I love to linger over meals. So it’s always been a goal of mine to create a family space where meals are savored and conversation is flowing. Where the time together socializing is equally important as the food.
But you cannot expect your baby to sit for very long when starting solids. In fact, the first meal my twins, Adie + Max, ever had lasted about 4 minutes before they were over it and wanted bottles. This is normal. Roll with it. Learning to sit upright, picking things up, learning to chew and swallow—it’s all really exhausting!
As your baby gets older and their muscles stronger, mealtime will naturally extend. What started out as a 7 minute lunch may become 15 minutes a month later, or even 30 minutes two months later on if you are in tune with your baby. Not there yet? Below are some tips to extend mealtime in a nurturing way.
Tips for getting your baby to sit in their high chair for longer
- Serve a variety of foods that are both easy and challenging for your baby to self-feed in the same meal. This way if your baby is tired, there are some easy options on the table. Here 7 month-old Reed has purple potatoes 2 ways: a large piece to munch on as well as mashed to scoop.
- Serve family style, even if that just means 3 small plates on the table in front of them. This way if your baby wants more of a particular kind of food they can reach for it and ask for more.
- Offer a straw cup and items of interest at the end of the meal. As a meal wears on your baby may get impatient with what’s in front of them. They may also have tired from having to use the skills needed to drink from an open cup. (Graded control is hard!) Make the meal a bit more pleasant for everyone by offering a straw cup and/or other items of interest (a new spoon to chew on, etc.) toward the end. Should help keep things quiet during clean up, too.
Unless you have a specific feeding issue on your hands, don’t listen to anyone who says your meal must be X minutes long or shorter than Y minutes. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to family meals / family time. What matters more is that you are in tune with your baby, responsive to their needs (and yours!) and that you structure things that gradually get you to your desired long-term goals.
And when in doubt, just give your babe some corn on the cob. Should buy you about 10 minutes.