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    Childrearing #2

    June 22, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Keep Baby’s hands under the tray of the highchair when training Baby to eat solid foods.

    Now, some people think that babies are being “creative” when they play with their food and throw it all over the room, while screaming with delight. My opinion is that this sort of activity is just about as creative as modern art, which is to say not very creative at all. And much like modern art, the root of the problem is a lack of discipline, and possibly Not Knowing Any Better.

    In my mind, creativity is for the bathtub, playdough, and mud puddles. Definitely not the dining room. Nobody has to agree with me, but There It Is.

    Now, the point of training Baby to keep her hands under the tray is to, first, allow the early skills of chewing and swallowing to develop with limited distraction caused by other activities. A secondary reason is to encourage a pattern of peaceful mealtimes for the whole family. I am, simply, not very patient when it comes to being covered in food during mealtime. So the Hands Down Rule keeps the peace.

    Children will resist this discipline, and some will resist more than others. Both of my children had to be constantly reminded during the early days {weeks!}. But training was quite simple. First, we started Baby out with hands under the tray. Anytime they snuck out into the open, we simply said, “Hands down” and helped Baby get her hands back down.

    This comes in handy at restaurants, where there is no tray, and Baby begins to reach out for food. We say, “Hands down,” and Baby is reminded to keep those hands down.

    This rule doesn’t continue in our house much past the first birthday, because then Baby is old enough to begin to self-feed. But since Baby never got into the habit of throwing food or playing around with food, we have found {so far} that Baby will actually eat with her hands when the time comes, rather than spend mealtime playing.

    Some people’s children don’t seem to have a problem with trying to grab the baby spoon because they like food that much. Other people just don’t consider grabbing the spoon a big deal. This is not a moral issue. But if a mommy and daddy value a clean shirt {and floor, and table, etc.} before and after meals, the Hands Down Rule might be just the trick.


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