Why Do Babies and Toddlers Throw Food To The Floor?

Why Do Babies and Toddlers Throw Food To The Floor?

Meal times with babies and toddlers quite often feel like a chaotic juggling act, and that’s because they are 😆 Yeah it’s super cute when it first starts happening……the face painting with their dinner that progresses to the food flying across the room. But let's be honest here… it gets tiresome pretty quick! The bright side is - there are steps you can take to make it better.

While it’s a common, unavoidable phase, it really is important to understand toddler food-throwing behaviour and how you can address this early to prevent it going on for too long. Dinnertime is one of the few times families all come together so making mealtimes a little more peaceful and enjoyable, is a win for everyone. 
In this blog, we’ll explore together the reasons behind this messy habit and share our practical tips to create calmer, happier mealtimes.

So what are the reasons toddlers throw food at mealtime?

  1. Exploration and Curiosity: Toddlers are naturally curious and love to explore their environment. Throwing their food allows them to see what happens when it hits the floor, what noise it makes, and what reaction they get from you.
  2. Attention Seeking: Sometimes, throwing food is a way for toddlers to get your attention. If they feel that their actions attract a strong reaction from you, they might continue to do it to maintain your focus and attention.
  3. Independence and Control: Toddlers are continually learning to assert their independence, and throwing food can be a way of taking control over their environment and testing boundaries.
  4. Disinterest or Discomfort: If a child is not hungry, tired, or dislikes the food offered, they might throw it to signal their disinterest or discomfort.
Why Do Babies and Toddlers Throw Food To The Floor?

The importance of preventing food throwing habits in young children

Jumping on to this bad habit early is important for many reasons - the main one being your sanity! Not only is it exhausting and frustrating to slave in the kitchen trying to create something your baby will love, but for it to end up on the floor - leaving you with a still hungry child AND a messy eating area isn’t the outcome anybody wants. I guess it could be worse right - they could be throwing their food in public! 
The second most important reason for nipping this habit in the bud - is for your child. Every new behaviour they display is purely learning and testing. It can seem like they are too young to understand - but we all know they are smarter than they act 😆

Why Do Babies and Toddlers Throw Food To The Floor?

So why is it important for THEM to learn better eating habits?

  • Setting Boundaries: Establishing clear boundaries helps toddlers understand acceptable behaviours, promoting respect and discipline.
  • Reducing Waste: Food waste can be minimised when children learn to appreciate and eat what is served to them.
  • Creating Calm Environments: Consistent mealtime behaviour creates a more relaxed atmosphere, making family mealtime a more pleasant experience for other children too.
  • Encouraging Positive Habits: Early intervention helps inspire good eating habits that can last a lifetime.

How to stop my toddler from throwing food during meals

Whilst every toddler and every household is different - having some effective strategies to prevent food throwing in toddlers is important - as consistency regardless of who is feeding can really help.

Here are our tips for handling a toddler who throws food.

  1. Create a Routine: Establish a consistent mealtime routine. Regular times and a structured environment help toddlers know what to expect, reducing anxiety and misbehaviour.
  2. Engage and Involve: Make mealtime engaging by involving your toddler in simple tasks like setting the table, setting up their dining chair or choosing between two food options. This gives them a sense of control and responsibility.
  3. Limit Distractions: Turn off the TV and put away toys and gadgets during meals. This helps your child focus on eating and the family interaction around the table.
  4. Offer Appropriate Portions: Serve small, manageable portions that are easy for your toddler to handle. If they are hungry, they are more inclined to eat the food than throw it if it isn’t over-piled. You can always offer more if they finish their serving. We love these 6 piece silicone dining sets as they are soft and gentle for babies to touch and even better - they suction to the table so they can’t be picked up and thrown!
  5. Provide Clear Expectations: Before meals, explain to your toddler what is expected of them during mealtime. Use simple, clear language that they can understand.
  6. Model Good Behaviour: Children learn by observing. Show them how to behave at the table by modelling calm and polite eating habits.
  7. Use Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward positive behaviour. Acknowledge when your child is eating well and following mealtime rules, reinforcing the behaviour you want to see.
  8. Stay Calm and Consistent: Reacting calmly and consistently is key. Avoid overreacting to food throwing. Instead, gently but firmly let your child know that this behaviour is not acceptable.
  9. Address Underlying Issues: Ensure that your toddler is not overly tired or hungry before meals. Address any discomfort or disinterest in the food by offering a variety of healthy options.
  10. Be Patient and Persistent: Change won’t happen overnight. Stay patient and keep reinforcing the rules and expectations. Consistency is key to helping your child learn appropriate mealtime behaviour.
Why Do Babies and Toddlers Throw Food To The Floor?

By understanding the reasons behind food throwing and implementing these strategies, you can create a more peaceful and enjoyable mealtime experience for everyone. This not only makes clean-up and time management that bit easier but also contributes to a happier, more harmonious household. Remember, every child is different, so it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your family. Keep a positive attitude, and celebrate small victories along the way!

Happy Eating xx

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