Tantrums at mealtimes.....help !

Hi all - just wondered if I just have a stroppy little madam (in the nicest possible way!) or it is something else. My DD is 13 months and has always been a good eater since weaning with the odd exception. She has also always had a few minor tantrums where she knocks her water / spoon / food onto the floor in a bit of a meltdown. However this last week she has been a nightmare and her tantrums have got worse ! She is teething at the moment and I know this is probably affecting her appetite but the tantrums were so bad today I had to take her out the highchair and calm her down and walk away myself at brekkie as she got me so mad by deliberately throwing food over her head etc etc etc !

I am worried that if I don't tackle this now I will have this forever but at the same time know that her teeth will not be helping. Anyone had anything similar and what did you do ??? Thanks S


  • My 1st son is only 6 months, however before having him I nannied for 6 years, the girls went through a stage of tantruming at mealtimes, spitting food out, throwing it etc, I found the best way with them was not to react, completely ignoring the behaviour was hard but it was the only thing that worked, I would just carry on with whatever I was doing, eat my breakfast and maybe say 'ooh this is lovely' and afterwards clear up the mess, without even acknowledging that they were shouting etc.

    We started by taking them away from the situation to calm down, but eventually we found the method that worked for us.....good luck x
  • B had another little phase of this recently and Ive realised that it was his way of telling me he needed to move on with his feeding.

    e.g. He will shove loads of food into his mouth given the chance so Ive always cut things up for him into smaller pieces (like toast or a sandwich) and control whats on his tray to minimise this. I realised that he didnt want to have his food this way anymore as he kept asking for mine and biting into it like a big boy. So now for lunch for example I make us both a wrap and I hold his for him and he bites into it. He now eats so much better image

    Less recent was the spoon. I would "help" him with preloading and it made him mad and he would flick food everywhere. I realised he just wanted to do it all himself like a big boy so I left him to it and he now has a spoon in each hand and eats well on his own.

    So it could be that she is expressing her frustrations to you and it may be that you just need to work out what it is she is frustrated about to help her move forward :? While trying to work it out, the way I dealt with it was to not pick the food up (and encourage it if it were a game), say a firm NO (and he would laugh :evil: ) and if it descended into a meltdown I would remove him from his highchair until he calmed down and then start all over again. I did this because he wouldnt calm down while sat in the chair so there was no point pursuing with the meal with him in that state. At one mealtime it took 3 goes!!

    But then the teething will always throw things out! She could just be in pain when eating and getting frustrated with that and the throwing food etc is her way of telling you it hurts.

    Not sure if any of that helps. But I understand how hard it can be!! Just remember, it's another phase... and it will not last forever although it feels like it at the time image

  • Hi Mummabear - this is a great help as for the first time today i think you are right and she wants to feed herself with a spoon and fork and yes when I try to pre-load it this is when she has her biggest tantrum and throws the fork everywhere. The problem is that she is not good at getting food on the spoon etc so it is a frustrating learning process !!! Her tooth has come thro today so I am hoping that and me being patient encouraging her to feed herslef more will settle her. Thanks so much for you help though makes me feel so much better.! S XX
  • Glad to be of help hon!

    I can elaborate a bit on the spoon thing too if it helps more. In the beginning.. he would only want to do it himself for a few times, then got bored and wanted help again (particularly if he was tired) so I would put a bit on there for him and let him go for it again - they then see this as them doing it with a bit of help! Or he would just put the spoon down and use his hands when he'd had enough! Slowly the help disappeared and he mostly uses the spoon the whole time now. It does get messy while they learn :roll: (even messier!!) but let her explore. And most important, follow her lead, then you have more chance of there being no frustration and the tantrums. Lots of praise helps too of course.

    Just make sure that what you offer her is in the easiest form to get on to a spoon for a beginner. So e.g. yoghurt or avocado, stir it up so it's nice and soft and easy to get on the spoon. Even if you start with offering things like this for her to do herself, and then stick a spoon in everything else for her to explore. I found B ate less to begin with but he never starved! You mght just have a phase where you need to help them at the end to take what they need, or offer a snack shortly after.

    Enjoy the transition. It's lovely to see them develop their independence!

    Also glad to hear the tooth came through, that should certainly help matters too x
  • Hiya - she is definitely trying to feed herself and as you say she gets bored after trying to get food on the spoon after a while and then will let me feed her some. She is getting OK with yoghurt (although very messy as you say !)but she gets sooo frustrated with the main meal and then starts to use fingers and then follows the normal meltdown.........!!!!! I will follow your advice and try to be patient instead of getting all wound up ! One tooth is thro but I see another one coming and her dribbling was sooo bad today that we are not out the woods yet ! Thanks again. S XX
  • As you have no doubt see with her other developments, it doesnt take long to master something so it wont be long til she masters the spoon with the main meal without going into meltdown. They try so hard bless them! Plus since she is teething at the same time she has set herself a bigger challenge image

    Im now finding even some things just arent easy with a spoon so Im going to look for a fork for B. Ive also seen a "foon" or maybe it was a "spork" (cant remember which!) but it's a spoon type fork. That might be worth a go too!

  • Ok so just had another dinner session. She starts to feed herself then has a mini tantrum bashing the spoon into the bowl and flicking it everywhere whilst crying, I gave her a little bowl with some in which helped for a bit but then when I saved the bowl from being thrown she had another screaming fit..... she does eventually eat most (via me shuving it in inbetween crying) and eats her yoghurt fine but has so many full on screaming fits that it bought me to tears tonight.............I've never known it so bad........please tell me it will get better ??? She is absolutely fine now she is down from highchair and is busy giving me all the contents of one of my cupboards !! Any more advice ? S XX
  • It sounds like she is trying really hard but getting so frustrated while she works it out. Oh hon.. it can be so hard for us while we wait it out with them to get through their own frustrations. But she WILL and it WILL get better I promise! You know that, you just need to hear it again. How many times have you felt this way before through her other milestone developments? B is a spirited little chap so I go through this with him pretty much at every new milestone and it feels so hard whilst youre in it, but afterwards once they get it you get to feel so proud of them. Focus on that to get you through.

    If she is prone to throwing the bowl or plate off the table I can recommend using the ones with suction so they stick on the tray. I have these! It helped with not only B not being able to throw the food everywhere, but also made me a happy mummy to not be covered in it! Plus he then seemed to learn that they were meant to stay on the tray so now things that arent suction are safe! I sometimes also used little bowls - like the size of their mini yoghurt tubs - when he first started doing it all on his own. It made it more achievable before the frustration set in. B seemed to get tired of doing it himself when he was first learning but once they get better at it they become more proud of themselves and just do it for longer because it's not so challenging to them anymore.

    Keep at it with her. You probably only have a few more days before she is a master at it!! If it gets too much during a meal then there is no harm taking her out of her chair for a few mins to calm down then starting again. In one meal session with B I had to do this 3 times while he was learning this new skill.

    Youre doing great!!! x
  • Thanks hun - you are a great help. I have calmed down a bit today and she had meals a bit better (with the odd scream !) and ate a full dinner which she hasn't done in about 2 weeks. She seems to behave herself a lot more when DH feeds her as well - think she knows she can play up with me....!! Thanks again. P.S - I tried the suction bowls but she could pull them off......!! she is very strong...both physically and mentally !!S XX
  • Sounds like you might have a spirited little character on your hands too image

    Im glad yesterday went better for you both x
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