34 answers

How Do I Stop My Toddler from Throwing Food on the Floor During Mealtime?

My daughter is 15 months old and has a habit of throwing her food to the floor during every meal. My husband and I say "no" and "please give to mama/dada". We've limited the amount of food on her tray, but that doesn't seem to matter. She throws food she likes and food she doesn't like. We even have her pick up the food off the floor and put it in the trash-which she happily does. But nothing is working to get her to stop. She will look at us, hear us and then very deliberately drop/throw another piece of food on the floor. Its very frustrating and I'm looking for advice on how to help her with this problem. I wonder how appropriate it is to "discipline" her when she is only 15 months old. I would appreciate any advice you have to offer!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

As annoying as it is - IGNORE IT. Toddlers at this age & stage are seeking out response. SHe's not deliberately trying to make you mad, she sees that she does something and you respond with full attention. She'll stop eventually.

1 mom found this helpful

I would actually try to ignore or distract her. My son does the same thing, and I'm guessing that they just enjoy testing themselves and us. Saying 'no' or anything negative might just tempt her to continue.

My two cents...:)


She is doing this for the reaction...cause and effect...she doesn't want to make you angry but she enjoys knowing what will happen when she does certain things...it's a phase and just keep saying no or feed her until she listens but it will stop. As far as discipline for a toddler...as in all, the punishiment should fit the crime...tell her stop throwing food or she is all done...if she throws more food, get her out of her chair, say "all done" and go about the clean up routine...after a couple times, she'll get it...my son was 12 months when we moved in with my in-laws..they have a spiral staircase that can't be gated off...everytime he would start to climb the stairs we would pick him up, say no and put him in the pack-n-play...no yelling or explainations needed...he caught on, for awhile it was a game, he'd run over there to see what would happen but after about a week or so he left the steps alone...now he is 20months and the temptation gets to him every once in awhile but for the most part he knows not to touch and when he does he knows where he is going... goodluck!

More Answers

Taking the food away, and waiting 20 minutes or so before returning it or just ending mealtime altogether is the best solution. My youngest son was a chronic food thrower, but since I've taken this approach it has almost stopped completely. I did have to convince myself that doing this was not depriving him of enough to eat. But after a few meals I finally figured out that if he throws food at the beginning of mealtime he's not very hungry, and if it's well into mealtime, he's usually had enough. When kids are hungry they will eat.

1 mom found this helpful

As annoying as it is - IGNORE IT. Toddlers at this age & stage are seeking out response. SHe's not deliberately trying to make you mad, she sees that she does something and you respond with full attention. She'll stop eventually.

1 mom found this helpful

But a cheap plastic tablecloth to use as a drop cloth and forget it. When a toddler does something that ALL toddlers do, and have since forever, think about how you can use it as a learning experience, rather than teaching her not to do it. "Up, down, splash, wet, mop, wash, throw, far, near", etc etc etc. I promise you she will not still be doing this on her wedding day!Let her develop the way nature intended and ENJOY her. Laugh a little.
Sue S

1 mom found this helpful

At her age she really shouldn't be disciplined. I'd start putting just one item on her tray and if she throws it instead of eating it, give the next one to her saying something like 'this is for your mouth and tummy. can you put it in your mouth?' If she starts to throw it, grab her hand and take it away. Start all over. Pretty soon she'll catch on.

1 mom found this helpful

It's all about positive discipline. When she's about to throw something on the floor say"No, food stays on your tray/table" then take her hand and have her put the food on the tray, the second the food touches the tray yell"hurray!!" and make a really big deal of it. Keep doing it every time,until she doesn't need your hand to guide her hand to do it. while doing this , if she drops a piece on the floor, ignore it. She's playing a game with you. She gets attention from both you and your husband when she does it and sometimes she even gets to play with the garbage can- how exciting. Sometimes you have to step back and look at the problem through their eyes- she doesn't know right from wrong, she knows attention, bad or good. So , make her want the good kind of attention, positive feedback and then she'll do things to get it.This works with everything. Don't make a big deal out of the bad stuff, tell them it's wrong but then show them the "right" thing and praise, praise, praise it and they'll do it.
Good luck.

Yes, it is appropriate to discipline her at this age. I have 10 month old twin boys and at meal time one of them likes to trash about in his high chair. I sternly tell him "NO" and I refuse to give him his food while he's doing that. He does stop and then eat. You can also try putting the TV on (her favorite show, of course). but be firm about scolding her about throwing food on the floor. when she does it, just say "NO" to her. If you catch her in the act, say NO a bit louder and firmly so that she knows this is not a play tone. My boys certainly know the difference between a play tone and a scolding tone at 10 months old. You must take control now or lose it forever.

Enjoy your beautiful baby girl.

My daughter did something very similar around the same age. We would joke about it at the table, "Yup, gravity still works." It is just a phase. Keep on doing what you are doing and she will eventually hit a point where she will eat and mimic what the adults do at the table rather than throwing. Children are learning and developing so much at this age; skills and behavior seems to change almost weekly around her age.

Dear A.,
It is NEVER too early to start disciplining children. When they do something wrong, take action. Once you have said "No", my advice would be to slap her hand. I'm not suggesting that you hurt her, but make her aware that you mean what you say. She will quickly learn that there is a consequence to her actions. She is too young for lengthy explanations but she will realize that NO means "don't do that". Two to three times and she will quit throwing food; and I say 2 -3 times because she will test you to see if you remain true to your word. At this age, it is similar to training a dog or a horse. Excuse my analogy, but animals will never understand more than a few words, so other means of discipline are necessary like a slap on the nose or a crack of the whip. It's imperative to make them understand.
We went through a similar thing with our daughter at the same age. She had an attraction to electrical sockets, trying to poke them with her fingers - too dangerous. At home we had the plastic covers, but my fear was if we were out somewhere where they were not covered. She had to learn at home. Each time she would go to touch one, I would say No. If she didn't stop I slapped her hand. After a few times, she would walk to one and look to see if I was watching. When she saw me, she walked away. Then I decided to hide to see what she would do. Of course, her hand reached for the socket, and I said crisply, "No". She pulled her hand away, and that was the end of her attraction to electrical sockets.
It may be old-fashioned, but it works.

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