Creating the right environment for successful mealtimes

The Setup: Highchair Hijinks

Creating the right environment for successful mealtimes with your child to enjoy meals and snacks is one of the best ways to build positivity around food. It’s a great way to help them learn the motor skills and eating habits that make for happy, healthy mealtimes.

That’s a mission at the heart of everything we do at doddl. It’s all about finding the right tools for the job – things that fit your little ones, your lifestyle, and your dinnertime destination. Obviously we’re biased, but we think it all starts with the cutlery. Our ergonomic set won Gold for ‘Best Cutlery’ in the Weaning Week 2020 awards, so we’re chuffed to hear others agree. It helps your little ones get to grips with their food in smile-inducing fashion. Hands on, healthy and honing those vital skills.

That’s the cutlery covered for you, but what about the highchair? We’ve been working with Paediatric Speech and Language Therapist and feeding specialist, Stacey Zimmels, to understand exactly how the place you choose to park your child whilst they dig in to dinner can make all the difference.

It’s a balancing act…

Eating requires some pretty skilled movements – hand and mouth coordination, and fine tuned mouth muscle control to get those spaghetti hoops or carrot sticks to their destination. And that, surprisingly, comes from the core of your baby’s body. Our babies need central stability and support to get it right. As Stacey says, you wouldn’t eat a sandwich standing on one leg. So why leave your baby feeling off balance? That’s where the high chair comes in…

Have their back…

Whatever chair you choose, it should ideally have a high back. Your little one needs to sit well supported to best learn those vital skills – so a booster that comes halfway up may not cut it. If your baby is yet to sit unsupported, you might even want a model with a slight lean back to keep them upright.

Don’t let them slump down either. A padded insert would work to give them some additional support, or just rolled up towels to pad them in safely.

And their feet…

Just like you wouldn’t want to eat balancing on one leg, Stacey points out, you wouldn’t choose a tottering bar stool over a stable chair for your date night dinner. Too much to concentrate on, and the same applies to your baby.

Dangling feet make it all the harder for your little one to stay balanced, and we already know how important that is. The more tired and unstable they are, the harder they will have to work to feed themselves. There’s only so much a set of doddl cutlery can do!

If your choice of high chair doesn’t have an adjustable footrest, you can always make use of a shoebox to help, just pop it under their feet. Plus, you can cut it down as they grow so it maintains that stability they need.

Get in position…

 Start with your little one in the right position, and you can’t go wrong. Unless it’s just one of those days where nothing goes right. Let’s be honest, we all have them. To stand your best chance, make sure they’re sitting at a 90-degree angle. That means legs straight out from the hips, not leaning too far back or forwards. Once again, the rolled-up towel is your friend if you need a little extra support.

Next, make sure you’re not making them reach for it. The tray or table needs to be pushed right up to them, so there’s no problem reaching all that delicious grub. And forget those old etiquette rules. Elbows on the table are actively encouraged. They help support those vital motor skills, and make finger feeding or picking up a loaded spoon so much easier.

Make it work…

There are hundreds of high chairs on the market, from cheap and cheerful basics, right through to expensive models with all kinds of bells and whistles. Hopefully Stacey’s tips will help you find the must haves – a high back, and a footrest – and the maybes – plenty of adjustability, with room to grow.

Like all resourceful parents, creating the right environment for successful mealtimes and the ideal eating experience is possible using a few accessible objects, so don’t sweat as long as you get the basics right. Your little one will be scooping up the peas like a pro in no time.

To get more insights from Stacey you can visit www.feedeatspeak.co.uk or follow stacey @feedeatspeak and to shop the full doddl range visit doddl.com

Recent Posts

Mar 24, 2021

Weaning and worried about your baby choking? Read on.

If you’re thinking about, or in the process of weaning with your baby, there is plenty of advice out there

Read More

Feb 16, 2021

Cow’s milk protein allergy: “How do I know if my baby is milk intolerant and what can I do to help?”

Stacey Zimmels from FeedEatSpeak is a feeding & swallowing specialist and Speech and Language Therapist. The most common form of

Read More

Feb 1, 2021

Why the doddl toddler knife is different to a ‘standard’ children’s knife

About our toddler knife.. We love our knife, we genuinely do. Alongside the rest of our cutlery we spent months

Read More