If your child is a picky eater, encourage your child to learn about different foods at mealtime. You need to maximise their concentration and avoid anything that might distract them. If they are not sitting comfortably or fully supported, they will most certainly be distracted.
Best toddler/child seating when eating
Many children sit on a regular dining chair at the table or a bar stool for meal times. This usually means the child’s feet are unsupported. Due to their small stature, they will be at a low level for the height of the table. They will then be using energy on maintaining their balance and posture and are likely to get tired and frustrated easily. I know when I have been to restaurants and the seating is low to the table I feel uncomfortable. It takes more effort to use my cutlery as I am having to stretch up more to get my arms on a comfortable position at the table. I also feel I can’t interact as well with my friends. If I am at a lower level even conversation and my interacted is impacted. Put me on a cushion and suddenly I feel much more engaged and content (my feet still touch the floor).
Bar stools are another matter altogether! Not only are they high so a bit difficult to get onto but they often move as well. I can never get my feet (if they reach) to sit on the bar. After a short while I tend to get frustrated and would rather stand.
Imagine how all this feels for a child who has the added difficulties of struggling with food. Mealtimes are probably not their favourite time of the day, so motivation is going to be low. They may have poor core stability, be struggling with the sensory aspect of foods and have limited concentration. The result is going to be a child who doesn’t want to spend very long at the table and will fidget and probably keep leaving the table and be very frustrated.
Check your child’s seating position
Providing a child with a stable base of support can make a big difference to meal times. The first part is to get them at a good height for the table. When they rest their arms on the table top with their elbow bent aim for as near to 90 degrees as possible. You can then work down next looking at hips, knees and ankles again we are ideally looking for 90 degrees.
Look at the seat depth. If it is too deep this will result in young children sitting with their legs extended, slouching or sitting on their legs as they try to create a stable base.
You don’t have to go to great expense. Some firm foam from a market can be used as a cushion to raise your child up to a good height at the table. It can also provide a back support to decrease the seat depth. A commercially available toilet step maybe sufficient as a foot rest for your child depending on their height.
Toddler high chair or seat cushion for better seating
An alternative chair like the one pictured below allows great adjustability for your child as they grow.
Using a Move ‘n’ Sit seat wedge can be really helpful. It is a great way to add a bit of height but also tilts the pelvis slightly so the child sits more upright. At the same time the air inside allows for a little movement. It is great for fidgety kids at the table. They come in junior and adult sizes.