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Teaching Mealtime Manners

Manners & Responsibility: Teaching Table Manners
Manners & Responsibility: Teaching Table Manners
Girl pouting

Dining with a 1-year-old can run the gamut from a pleasant tea party to feeding time at the zoo. In any case, eating together as a family, with the television turned off and other distractions at a minimum, is an important aspect of socialization. If you keep in mind the cardinal rule of feeding children (your job is to fix it, and his job is to eat it), dinner will automatically become more pleasant. If you eliminate struggles over what your child is going to eat, how much he is going to eat, and how fast he is going to eat it, you may even find that he eats better.

Encourage your child to be independent at the table, and then help her to succeed. Make sure food is presented in a form she can handle, and don't argue about what she does with it on her plate or how she gets it into her mouth. Finger feeding makes her feel competent, and practicing with a spoon and a fork is even better. Most 18-month-olds can use a spoon competently; handling a fork comes soon afterward. At about the same time, your child will probably become more adept at drinking from a cup, but still keep a supply of cups with lids and spouts on hand.

One of the best ways to improve your child's attitude toward food is to involve him in its preparation. By 1 year of age, your child is capable of performing tasks that make him feel like an important part of the process. He may be content to use his toy cookware to imitate your actions. If not, let him tear lettuce, take a turn whisking salad dressing or eggs, or put rolls in the bread basket.