Q: Our 18-month-old is a table terror! While I’m preparing dinner, she walks around acting like she’s starving, but as soon as we sit her in her highchair she takes a few bites and then wants down, screams, cries and will sometimes throw food. Through all this, our 5- and 3-year-old try to talk to us but can’t get a word in for all the chaos. We absolutely dread eating in a restaurant. How should we address her behavior?
A: I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: Until they are at least 3, maybe 4, and in some cases even 5, children should be fed before everyone else in the family sits down to eat, even if the everyone else in question consists of husband and wife only. Including a child this age in the family meal is an open invitation to trouble. As you describe, they can be relied upon to disrupt in all manner of creative ways.