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Tips on Dealing with High Chair Shenanigans

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messy baby biting a plate in a highchair

We’ve all laughed at those moments in movies and on TV commercials when a baby gleefully slings spaghetti or pureed spinach at the wall. Of course, that was before we got an eyeful of applesauce courtesy of our own little darling.

Unfortunately for your kitchen floor, making a huge edible mess is part of every baby's self-feeding process. Your child isn’t trying to drive you nuts - he’s merely mesmerized by the pulpy texture of mashed sweet potatoes. Food, like everything else in his life, is just one more thing to be explored. Mealtime is also one of the first scenarios when baby gets to test out the fabulously fun law of cause and effect: Every time I drop a Cheerio on the floor, Mommy bends over to pick it up! Fascinating! Add to this the fact that different types of food squish in different ways, and you have Baby Science 101.

Short of shrouding the furniture in plastic and wearing a raincoat to lunch, there’s not too much you can do about spills and stains. But you can take steps to make mealtime more laid-back - just be prepared to lower your expectations and have a keen sense of humor.

Timing Is Everything

If your baby is hungry when you sit him down to eat, he’ll be much more likely to put the banana chunks in his mouth than in his hair. By the same token, keep meals short and sweet. When his tummy is full, his bananas are no longer appetizing - which means he’ll find another, messier use for them.

Invite “Friends” To Dinner

Some babies fuss and fling their food because they can’t stand to be restrained in a high chair. If that sounds like yours, it might help to have an assortment of toys available for her to bang on her tray and “share” her yogurt with; these will momentarily distract her from the fact that she’s being held captive. Of course, make sure the toys can be washed easily in hot soapy water!

Choose Utensils Wisely

Here’s one time when it doesn’t pay to be cheap. Even if they cost a few dollars more, look for plates with suction cups on the bottom (more challenging for baby to overturn) and brightly colored spoons and “forks” with chubby, nubby handles that are easy to hold. He’ll probably use his hands anyway, but at least you can say you tried.

Plan a Less-Mess Menu

Sure, there are all sorts of superhealthy foods you want to introduce your child to at some point - beets come to mind. But trust us, it’s OK to save the most permanently staining/difficult-to-clean items for later, when meals aren’t quite so explosive. Have you ever tried to sweep up zillions of dried quinoa grains (which stick to surfaces with the intensity of superglue)? I have. My daughter would have been fine with Cheerios, believe me.

Take Pictures

Okay, so this tip won’t exactly tidy up your snacking routine - but you’ll treasure those snapshots of your squash-faced cutie forever. And the mess will be nothing but a distant memory.

 
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