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By sox - Posted on 05 July 2007

Over the past two or three months, Elliot's been having a bit of trouble getting into the carseat after daycare and getting into his high chair for a meal. It doesn't happen all the time, but enough so that it's a bit hard on all of us. The carseat one has been getting better because we've been trying to give him a bit of warning, and also talking to him about what toys are in the car that he can play with when he gets in his carseat.

The highchair transition, however, is still an issue. It's a more stressful one for me because of the relation to food and how I so don't want Elliot to have any eating issues (yeah, I know, far from it). With the carseat, I'm much more apt to 'help' him into it when he's have a bit of trouble, because, well, I'm the adult in this relationship, we're leaving now, and I know he'll be fine as soon as we start moving. With the highchair, my gut feeling is that I don't want to force him into it. That said, the few times that we have forced him in, within 10 minutes he's eating and smiling away as if nothing happened. But it still doesn't sit right with me. And that 10 minutes of him struggling and crying goes by VERY slowly.

The other reason it's harder is I have a few rules around eating that I don't want to bend -- namely that I don't want him eating on my lap. During the rough 'highchair entries' I'm sure he'd probably be happy to sit on our lap and eat, but it's just not something I want to start. That, and I'm not a big fan of him eating when he's not sitting down (unless we're outside playing).

We've tried offering him the choice of getting into his highchair or his booster seat, to give him more control of the situation, but it doesn't work. The booster seat is just as repulsive to him as the highchair. So what usually happens is we wait...until he's ready to get in. This usually takes about 15 minutes, but a couple of times it's been about 30 minutes. And although this method sits a bit better with me than forcing him in, I can't help feeling that we're having a battle and he's winning it.

I would love to know why this is happening, but when he can't talk it's difficult to know. It also happens infrequently compared to how many times he gets into the chair without so much as a blink, which makes it harder to figure out. I think it's partly the transition aspect, he's usually going into his highchair after a period of play, but I think also it's a hunger thing, because he tends to do it more when he's really hungry. It's as if he's so hungry he doesn't know what to do. Which is why I haven't thought about the option of just letting him skip the meal -- I do believe he's hungry.

Since I probably won't figure out why he's reacting this way, I've decided to try to stop focusing on why he's doing it, accept the fact that he will keep doing it for a while, and instead I'm going to try to focus on how to handle it with the least stress possible. This morning I think we had a bit of a breakthrough. When I went to put him to his chair, he made it obvious he didn't want to go in (he clutches my shoulder and shakes his head vigorously). So I went with the wait method. I drank my tea, had my own breakfast, did some dishes...and he still didn't want to go in. Again, I was pretty sure he was hungry, as he kept pointing to his plate of food.

I decided I couldn't wait forever, so I told him I was going to put him in for a short time, and if he still didn't want to eat, I'd take him out. We've tried this before, but he still struggles and cries. The difference this time was when I put him in and he started struggling, I leaned forward and gave him a hug. He immediately went limp and stop crying. We sat there for quite a while with his head nestled into my neck -- when I tried to pull away, he'd hold me close. So we stayed like that until he happily pointed to his plate of food, making it obvious to me he was ready to eat. Then he happily sat in his chair for 20 minutes and ate a huge breakfast.

So I still forced him in, but it felt better because I was able to comfort him more quickly. We'd tried to comfort him before when he'd been struggling, but only with words and a bit of physical contact. The full on hug seemed to treat him right. For this morning, anyway!