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Our 11 month old has gotten fairly good at knowing what she may and may not touch around the flat (e.g. a dangerous table, curtains etc.). When she approaches or actually gets her hand on such stuff, we tell her "no", move her or the thing, and offer an alternative. This has resulted in her looking at the forbidden things and apparently deciding to go somewhere else.

However, when it comes to biting into the table at feeding time, this approach has not worked so far. We move her head away from the edge and tell her "no", but offering a real alternative has escaped us, which I suspect why it is failing.

When she is picking up food and eating it herself, it is basically a non-issue, so maybe boredom is involved. However, feeding faster can only go so far (not to mention its negative aspects) and turning a meal into fun-play-time also seems counterproductive. We encourage and laud proper eating, but it seems to be an insufficient alternative behavior.

We had a similar issue with a placemat that she would begin to "peel off" the table and eventually flip over (with everything that was on it). On that front, we caved and no longer use it. I would rather avoid a similarly evasive solution, such as feeding her away from the table, because I suspect that she would transfer the behavior to the high chair she is sitting in.

What to do? Continuing and hoping that the "no" catches on eventually? Introduce consequences such as stop feeding or take a break? A possible issue with taking breaks, that I am anxious about, is that she may learn that her complaining will lead feeding being resumed.

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Consider baby-led weaning (Rapley & Murkett, 2011). In this method of weaning, the child is feeding herself by picking up small bite-sized pieces of solid food. The child is typically much more attentive and alert when she is in control of the feeding process, and is more interested in the food. She is also less distracted and less interested in side activities, such as the ones you mentioned as problematic. Other positive side effects of baby-led weaning are better fine motor skills and better control of food consumption.

Have family mealtimes, with children and adults eating together. Young children learn by imitation, and will naturally pick up mealtime habits from adults and older children. This will lead to better behavior at the table.

REFERENCES:

Baby-led-weaning babies are included in family mealtimes from the start, eating the same food and joining in the social time. This is fun for the baby and allows her to copy mealtime behavior, so that she will naturally move on to using utensils and adopt the table manners expected in her family. Babies can begin to learn about how different foods are eaten, how to share, how to wait their turn, and how to make conversation. Sharing mealtimes has a positive impact on family relationships, social skills, language development, and healthy eating.

(p.70)

Rapley G, Murkett T. "Baby-Led Weaning: the Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow up a Happy and Confident Eater." Experiment; 2011: https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Led-Weaning-Essential-Introducing-Foods/dp/161519021X

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At some point our son was not happy anymore, if he could not "take part" himself in the feeding process. He wanted to do something at his own.

Because you wrote, that the behavior is not a problem, when the child is feeding itself, this sounded familiar to me.

We gave him his own spoon. Even if we fed him. He was happy with it, even he was not able to reach the food with it. But he had fun to train the movement and to chew a little on this spoon until the next filled "parental" spoon was coming.

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