Toddler Dinners: Now with Colic!

So dinner time has taken a crazy turn I hadn’t really thought of before.  We now are having to have family dinner with a colicky infant. A “I don’t want to be put down or stop being moved” baby at the hour of 6 pm. It is insanity. The hours from 5-8 in our house are pure madness already.

With Landon as an infant, he went to bed at 6. We used to get home around 5 and play with him until about 5:45 when he would meltdown and we would start bedtime routine and he was down by 6-6:15. People thought we were crazy but we never had the “witching hour” even though he was pretty colicky as well. He went down and we had dinner together. It was glorious. Over the years it has moved back so our usual routine (pre new baby) was:

5pm: Get home
5-5:30pm: everybody play…usually outside
5:30pm – start dinner prep
6pm: Dinner
6:30pm: Pre bed TV
7pm: Start bedtime

Now enter Oliver. He usually hates his last nap of the day. I am lucky to get 45 minutes out of him before he is just cranky. Sometimes this means wearing him while I cook and eat or Kevin holds him while I play soccer in the backyard and then whip up something quick for dinner while he jiggles him. Now some nights I can get dinner on the table by 5:45. I scarf mine down and take the baby for bed. Kevin mans the toddler. Family dinner turns into man on man defense.

I feel like it is making Landon worse at the table too. With people in and out and some nights just him (we just can’t pull together a whole family meal), I wonder if he is acting out for attention. I can’t say I blame him. We spend most of our time consoling a crying infant in that time frame…so he just wants some attention too. I wish I had a fix but I think it is what it is for now.

But my question to you, family with multiple kids including infant, how do you do it? What is your routine? Tips? 


  1. I sure don’t have any words of wisdom (as I have a 14 year old and a 4 year old…so our toddler/infant time was separated by many years)…but I just don’t think I’ve told you how great it is that your toddler eats so well. I can definitely see where he would act out for attention (because even 10 years of age different doesn’t stop that!), because that’s oh-so-normal. (Even negative attention is attention, right?) I hope things get better….as I think family meals are so important! Have a great week!

  2. Hannah was a swing baby. Loved it. So we always tried to work it so we could get her in the swing for enough time to eat dinner, even a fast one together.

    I will tell you that it is going to get easier – their routines will slowly start to adjust to each other and it will work. Until then it is definitely a man to man game. I tried to have Clint make sure he was taking Hannah every other night so Maddie didn’t feel neglected by me but since I was the milk machine (as you are) it was hard to always make that work.

    Now nights are just as crazy but in a different way since both kids can STAND in the kitchen and whine at me for food the entire time I cook 😉

    • Yeah the swing is hit or miss. The one we have down there, he tolerates for a few minutes. He is just going to cry. We did try to put him in the cradle swing in his room and just let him cry in there. He seemed to watch the mobile longer in there with no distractions. I think I just feel guilty there because we don’t see him all day either and just send him away. Ugh. I know it gets better. Hell it does day to day…just wondering if I am missing some revolutionary tip for now.

  3. My kids are 16 months apart so I know the juggle all too well. The only way I’ve managed to maintain my sanity and spend some times with my kids is to cook on the weekends. I recently took a job that has me getting home at the time we should be eating dinner so it’s become an important matter of survival now.

    I cook two large meals on Sunday and then warm them when I get home from work. I try to make one thing in the crockpot or oven (depending on the outside temps) and one meal that actually requires attention. It’s taken some time but I’ve managed to get my cooking/cleanup time under an hour most weekends. It cuts down on our grocery bills too and ensures that we eat all the leftovers. My husband and I try to time it so I cook when the younger one goes down for her nap or he’ll take them both out to run errands.

    I can’t promise you that it’ll get easier only because I haaaaated it when people told me that BUT I can promise you it will become manageable. Hang in there mama!!!

    • yeah maybe I can get my act together for that. We thought about it last night that we should have grilled the pork loin for the week. DOH. We did make carne asda last week and reuse it a lot all week. I don’t think the cooking time is the problem really. It’s the eating time with capt. cranky.

  4. This was us for the first five months of Cate’s life…exactly. She cried all the time, Brady’s behavior took a turn for the worse and dinner was just pure chaos. Sometimes, I just had to put dinner on the table to feel like I got something done right that night. It gets so much easier…but you don’t want to hear that. So, here is what we did. One of us ALWAYS ate with Brady. The other stood with the crying baby or got her ready for bed. Some nights, we put her in the swing or chair and just let her fuss because Brady needed our attention too and no matter what Cate was going to cry. I will tell you that menu planning has really helped and leftovers make things easy. Wine helps too!

    • yeah. we sometimes just let him cry but then Landon says “you need to help him, mama” which is sweet and hard to explain. I don’t want him to think we would let HIM cry. I have explained it as babies cry to cry and he did it too but I don’t know how much is getting through.

  5. Oh, we DEFINITELY have this issue too – 7 months now! There have been some days where my baby is fine during dinner, but that is very rare – we too usually eat around 6, and he’s in bed at 6:30 so he is just melting down by dinner time. The exersaucer was a huge help once he could go in there, sometimes, but a lot of nights he’s just done, no matter what you do – so we do the one person eats with the toddler while the other one holds the baby thing most nights. Oh, fun. We do always make sure one adult is eating with the toddler, or at least sitting with her. Dinners have been kind of a nightmare with her a lot of the time for a long time, but she was that way even before the baby was born – mostly on weeknights she’s just not hungry b/c they have a way bigger snack at dacyare than we usually would give her. No solid advice, sorry, just commiseration.

  6. Simple. I had AJ almost exactly 2 years after I had KP. Their birthdays are 2 days apart. I ate LOTS of dinners at the table, topless, one handed, with an infant attached to my boob. Everyone eating at the same time.

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