Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Starting family mealtime early

Maybe I sound old-fashioned, but I am a BIG believer in family mealtime. Growing up as an only child, there was no option to have a separate kids’ table or kids’ meal, and I ate with my parents nightly—always in the dining room, and never with the television.

So when I started my own family, this was high on my list of priorities, and I figured—and research has suggested—that starting family meals early is the best way to ensure their success. The Stokke Trip Trap chair has been a huge help in making family mealtimes work for us, and its clean-lined design and ergonomic contours blend easily at our kitchen or dining room table.

We had started with a typical high chair when my son first began eating solids, and believe me, they do have some fantastic benefits. Being able to take the top off a tray and stick it in the dishwasher, for one. Or simply wiping down the plastic seat cushion after a particularly messy meal.

But once we got our Trip Trap, mealtimes just seemed so much more interactive. Henry was able to be pushed right up to the table, which made for more cleanup, sure, but also meant he was learning to eat with us, next to us, and like us. I realized that that very alluring plastic tray, despite all its convenience, was more like a barrier between us. And while the plastic seat was easy to clean up, who would want to eat dinner sitting on cold, wet plastic—while strapped in, no less! The cushions that come with the Trip Trap chairs are soft cotton, and have lately been sporting some super-hip patterns. And they’re easily machine-washed—they clean up well and don’t shrink.

We’ve just gotten our second Trip Trap chair for Sophie, who has been indignantly climbing up onto Henry’s and refusing to get off for months now. She was using Henry’s old high chair—money is tight in this economy, so we tried to make due, but we soon realized it was an investment well worth making. They will both be able to use them for years—the chairs grow with your child and can even support an adult weight. Both the seat and footrest adjust so that your child can be at the perfect height, and the footrest curbs restlessness at the table—i.e. no more swinging legs and fidgeting.

And we now have our family dinner times again, with everyone pulled up around the table, joining in conversation. Ours usually starts with, “So what was your favorite part of today?”


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