Tips
Tips

Part 2: How to Stop Babies From Throwing Food on the Floor (and Cups, Plates, Utensils, etc)

Last month I shared three successful techniques for stopping your child from throwing food, cups, plates, etc on the floor. To read that post click here. At that time I promised that I’d share more techniques this month. But first a quick re-cap on why kids throw food and how to choose the right technique for your child.

Almost every child goes through a stage where they throw onto the floor anything within reach from their highchair – food, plates, bowls, cups, utensils, etc. The good news is that you can nip this behavior in the bud and make it disappear.

There is a difference between intentionally throwing food on the floor and unintentionally knocking things over onto the floor. Babies and toddlers are learning the skill of eating. It takes until at least 3 years old before a child is proficient at eating. Kids unintentionally knock things over because they are clumsy and inefficient at self-feeding. This is normal and expected. Accept your child’s messiness as a part of learning the tricky skills of self-feeding. Intentionally throwing food, plates, cups, etc is different than being messy. There are several ways to stop this behaviour. The trick is to find a match to the root cause of your child throwing food, as well as, your child’s temperament (personality)

  1. Tip:Remove the tray from your child’s highchair and pull your child’s chair up directly to the table. Use It When: The cause of your child’s behaviour is the developmental phase where they’re learning about gravity. When your child is in this phase, any opportunity to drop something will be taken. So the answer is to simply remove the opportunity. When you pull your child’s chair up to the family table, your child can no longer see the edge to throw food off (they aren’t as aware as we adults are of the edges of their peripheral vision)
  1. Tip: Allow your child to choose how much to eat at each occasion. Trust your child to know when they’re satisfied. Babies are born knowing when they’re hungry and when they’re satisfied. It’s normal for kids to eat a lot some days and very little on other days. You’ll make sure that your child is getting the nutrition that they need by offering foods at about 5 – 6 meals and snacks each day. And, watching their progress on their growth charts. Respect and trust your child in this way. The result is that meals will end with everyone in a good mood (and with less mess to clean up).Use It When: Throwing food is the only way that you’ll “hear” them say “I’m full”. I see this again and again. Well-meaning parents won’t accept that their child has eaten enough at a particular meal or snack. They feel that their child needs to eat more (usually due to concern that they aren’t meeting their nutrition needs). So even though their child is giving clear signals, either using words, sign language, or body signals, parents keep pushing their child to eat more. Kids keep escalating their “I’m full” signals until they throw the food on the floor. Throwing food on the floor usually causes their parents to finally allow them to stop eating.

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Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps moms and dads support your picky kids to get good nutrition today…and instill a life-long love of healthy eating. Find out more at www.KristenYarker.com

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