attachment parenting, dining with a baby, restaurant with a toddler, parenting tips

Parenting Tips: How To Train Your Baby to Eat With Adults at the Dinner Table

When I was pregnant with Soleil I was gifted a book that changed the whole course of where my parenting ideology would go.  The book was called the Continuum Concept and it is written by an explorer, Jean Liedloff, who lived with Aboriginal tribes in the deep rainforest of South America.  While living with the tribes she noticed that the children were very different than American children.  The tribal children were always worn on their mothers chest from the very beginning. They were never separated from the adults and learned right away how to "act" in an adult world.  These children never went through the terrible two's and they were active citizens of the community by the time they were toddlers.

In regards to eating out, I learned that children should be able to eat at an adult dinner and should be included in adult social activities instead of being left out.  So, I came up with my own plan. This is us below in the newborn carrier my girlfriend made me and it was my secret weapon for dining out for hours: 



I will never forget the first time I ate out with my 4 week old newborn in a fancy restaurant. I was at Sly's in Carpinteria.  I was with my dad, my brother, and Soleil's Dad.  I had Sol on my chest in my baby carrier.  We were having the loveliest time.  All of a sudden I noticed that another couple of new parents were in the back of the restaurant and they were taking turns taking their upset baby outside every 10 minutes.  They looked tired and frustrated.  As I went to the bathroom and saw where they were sitting, I realized what the issue was for that baby.  

The carseat was on the floor and the baby was in it and it was pissed.  So poor mom and dad and grandma and grandpa were taking it outside every 10 minutes because the baby was crying and upset in the restaurant.  I analyzed the difference between what I was doing and what they were doing and the difference was that, I had Sol included at the table, next to my chest were she wanted and needed to be, and all was right in her world.  She was a dream.  The other baby had been set on the floor and left out and it was bummed.

As Sol grew, I continued to keep her on my chest at all times.  As she became a bit stronger, she then would sit on mine or her dad's lap at dinner.  When she was strong enough to sit, she would sit next to us.  When she was about 1, I started to bring a little watercolor set and a sketchbook with us and she would contently paint.  And to this very day, for the most part, she sits with us without a screen, and hangs with us.  Bribing with ice cream at the end of the meal is awesome too!  I believe that my attachment parenting from the beginning was what set the stages for the years to come.  Here we are below at my friend's recent all adult birthday brunch.  Sol fits right in.


I brought this topic up on my Instagram page and so many of you lovely mommies responded to my question about how y'all essentially "trained" your babies to eat with the grown ups at dinner.  I think the more we women read ideas and routines of other women, we can learn so much from eachother.  Here is what everyone had to say:


We eat every meal with rielynn. She’s great at home and if we need to we give her a couple little graham cracker cookies while we finish. (She hammers food) At a restaurant we always try to let her cruise around for a bit before making her sit down so once the food comes she’s well behaved! We have to be realistic with expectations from early on and know they can’t sit for as long as adults


Baby led weaning has been huge for us. She eats what and when we eat. It’s made her a very adventurous eater at one. We also try to include her in conversation and always have music on when we eat at home. We can’t understand what she’s saying but she sure does talk to us. And we all dance. Dinners are some of my favorite moments!


Siena always ate “grown up” food rather than the kids meal junk most restaurants serve. I feel like all eating the same things made her a part of our meal and conversation and she behaved better as a result. When she was really little I would bring steamed peas and she would eat them one by one which took a really long time- bonus!


My kids have sat with us at the table since the beginning. As tiny infants they would “sit” in the babysitter on the table and we would talk to them. As they got older and started eating a bit they would get baby snacks like pastas or bread that they could pick with when we ate and their own food as well. They might not eat everything we eat but similar food to us and we always eat together. When I would go for coffee with friends when they were little they got snacks or an apple that would take them some time to eat and sit with us at the table.


With our second child Phoenix-boy(6) we discovered playing UNO to keep him occupied over dinner-family dinners started lasting longer which made for more conversation with both Trinity and Phoenix. I just replaced our UNO deck-the deck had many meals and little grubby fingers made for stinky cards🤣


We love baby led weaning! The basic idea is that they feed themselves from the very beginning of a transition to solid food. It definitely extends mealtime. I love BLW because it fosters independence and trust.If we’re eating out we bring her favorite coloring supplies, reserved just for eating out. All that said, sometimes eating out with a 1.5 y/o ain’t easy and we often have to take turns letting her explore.


When we go out, we try to go to restaurants with a view of some sort so it keeps my 3.5 year old entertained and gives us all something to talk about. I also bring some “new” (old) toys that she hasn’t seen in awhile so I can pull them out if need be. Stickers also work great at entertaining at the table. We just never make screen time at the table an option, so that’s all she knows.


When Emma was Little and started eat at 6months She sat in the High chair with us at the table, between me and my husband. So She could see that was a family moment. A moment for us where She is a part of.I let her touch raw food that was going to eat (veggies for ex.) I Remember I let her taste everything. In the wait I gave her Bread. Always with us, never before. Now She is 3 and we Cook together so then we eat our "work" and She enjoy a lot. Maybe when we go out She brings some Toys or books but no technology.


You are an amazing Mother. For us, I have always set the expectation that they will sit through the meal with us. I have always been home with my children and now homeschool, and due to my dear husbands work schedule, I spent a lot of time alone with the kids. There wasn’t any restaurant I wouldn’t take them to, even if it was frowned upon by the establishment. They’re children, not monsters. I set the expectation from when they were babies, that they sit at the table and eat with us. When the finish, I have a deck of cards that are dry erase and have little drawing prompts on them. I’ve had those for years and they still work great. I think it’s the same way for all the things we do, travel, hiking, camping. You cannot expect your kids to know how to do these things if you wait till they’re older to do them. Start young and lovingly hold the expectation. Oh, my kids re 7 and 4. ️


My daughter, who just turned 2, does best when we include her in our conversations and treat her like she is an equal part of our group. For example, she wanted a coffee at breakfast one day. Rather than tell her kids can’t have coffee and potentially create a toddler tantrum, we just play along by getting her a mug with “coffee” (warm milk). Then we ask her about it throughout the meal- “How’s your coffee? Is it hot?” Talking to her as you would another guest at the table.Doing things to keep her engaged and involved tends to eliminate the need for any toys or distractions. Be creative and follow your child’s lead. They will have fun and so will you!


We did BLW, which worked so well for us, and always sat at the table together, so sitting while eating is expected :) (I have to admit it is much harder with two to keep them both seated!) We play music during dinner and will dance in our chairs as a distraction when the girls start getting antsy at the table, and the girls (usually) have a good time. We try to keep it fun and silly! We also never stopped going out to restaurants after having kids because we wanted them to know how to sit nicely when they are out in public too! Our youngest (16mo) is not as patient as our older one (now 4yo) was, so I'm sure personality plays into it a lot as well! Our older one will now ask to be excused from the table when she is finished (most of the time) and brings her dishes to the kitchen :)


Hey babe! We have, since the second they could sit up, just Plunked them into the stokke trip trap high chair. People were always impressed that we sat at the table and had meals.... but really, having them with us on our level not separated in a standard “highchair” was the key. It modifies so they use it into their adolescence. Super expensive, but we found our second one on Craigslist for a steal. 🤷‍️works for us 95% of the time. And having 2 kids under 3 happy at meal times is worth every penny.


Everyone’s probably said this but feed them & eat together? Aya grubs so we just feed her some of what we’re eating & she’s pretty entertained w that. Also involving her in the conversation & we taught her how to cheers 🤣 plus the crayons they give at restaurants, done! She’s only 2 but we go out & take her every where w us! No real phones or screens, only fake calculator phones for her ️🤣


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