Highchair Food Toss

Updated on March 18, 2009
K.O. asks from Littleton, CO
17 answers

Suggestions on how to stop a toddler from throwing food off of her tray on to the floor? I've tried limiting the # of foods on her plate, putting stuff on a plate vs. right on the tray, and tried disciplining with no and timeout - nothing seems to work. She will even look me right in the eyes while dangling her milk or juice off the side and let it "slip" from her fingers.

I read some of the suggestions from the jan. post - and have tried a few of them - anything new out there other than taking food away? She also throws her juice cup off her tray from the stroller - tossing stuff seams to be a habit.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you all for your suggestions. We have already started trying some of them and I must admit that she is probably doing this 50% due to attention seeking and 50% discovery. While she is eating, I am typically preparing the adult dinner or feeding my infant, and not paying as much attention to her - which I need to refocus on, and adjust my dinner eating schedule to match hers, so that we can eat together as a family. I think this would probably help her. I need to slow down and appreciate her at this age, let the discovery continue (to a limit though, my dogs are going to get sick from all the stuff they are getting off the floor!), and focus on her while she is eating instead of using her meal time as my "get stuff done" time.
Your tips are appreciated and for those that take the time to read this - thanks.

Featured Answers



answers from Provo on

I went threw this stage with all of my kids. It is actually very common. It is a game of "cause and effect" for the child. It is so fun for them to get to be the boss. I know you said that you don't want to take food away, but if you don't play along with the game then she will quit. If she throws it, keep it. When she throws food off the tray, just pick it up and throw it in the trash. If she throws the sippie cup off the tray, just pick it up and throw it in the sink. When she throws things out of the stroller, keep it.
It does not take them long to learn that things will not appear again. A few meals is all it will take. Maybe she throws her food because she is not hungry. She will not let herself starve. Whatever you decide to do is entirely up to you. Don't let her see you frustrated. I know it is hard, but kids thrive on that. Just keep a sense of humor about it. "Nice try, but I think you are finished now." Sometimes a sense of humor is all that keeps you sane. I am the aide on the school bus with 13 preschoolers and that takes every ounce of patience that I have some days. Good luck!!

More Answers



answers from Provo on

my son is doing this too and it is so annoying! I have been trying to put him down immediately when he does it, and say no, but not freak out or raise my voice or anything. It helps me not to be angry, but it doesn't solve it. I think teaching him to say all done, or to sign it would actually help. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

guess what - this is normal toddler behavior. It is going to happen and you can't really stop it. The best approach is not to overreact. Time-out is way overreacting. Pick it up and ignore it and move on. It will get better. If she immediately drops the cup again as soon as you pick it up, just take it away and go on with the meal. If she screams, ignore her. When she calms down, then and only when she's calm and quiet you can give her the cup back. If she overturns her plate and drops the food, meal's over. Just say Oh, you're done eating and take her out of the chair.

She'll learn. It won't hurt her to have a few short meals!



answers from Denver on

It is very normal behavior. She is getting a reaction, which is the goal. My suggestion is to be consistent, if she throws food say in a calm voice. Uh oh, meal time is over. We eat our food not throw it and finish up. Eventually, she'll figure it out. She won't starve. .



answers from Denver on

Hi K. - I know how frustrating this is but be patient. It seems like she is being disobedient but really she is just playing a very normal toddler game. At this age, they are learning cause and effect. Anything that gets a reaction from you - positive or negative - is a positive on her scorecard.

The best way to deal with that game is to let it burn out by being boring. Treat it very matter of factly, no big emotions, no big reactions, no huffing or sighs, nada. That's why ending the meal right then works so well. What I would usually say to my boys was something like "All done! and then I would twist my hands in the sign language symbol for 'all finished' and then say something like "Food on the floor is so messy. Time for cleanup." Then, without a lot of fanfare or even eye contact, you clean her up, take her out of her high chair and send her on her way.
The way to fix throwing her cup from the stroller tray is to not keep it where it seems like a toy. Just say, "juice all done" and put it away. That probably isnt so much to get a rise out of you as she probably is just tired of it being there and doesnt have anywhere else to put it.

I hope that helps you! Being a mommy is really frustrating sometimes, just remember they are not out to get you!! :)



answers from Denver on

If she was hungry or thirsty she would eat and drink, instead of tossing it... so best thing is to let her do it and just ignore it.
When everything is on the floor just tell her all done and take her from the kitchen so you can clean up. She might throw a fit, but explain to her you threw all your food so now you are done.
Trust me she won't starve :)
And there is not need to punish, she is learning boundaries, as well as testing you. The more you give into the "game" the more she will do it.
The phase will pass...
Just wish it was easier on us moms :)

Good luck.



answers from Denver on

This is very normal behavior and the best thing to do is just ignore it and clean up when it's all over. She isn't being naughty, she is just checking things out. Kids don't understand stuff and so spend a long, long time learning. They are just checking things out so they look and taste and feel and hear and smell. That's all she's doing. Your child wants to know how far it is to the floor and what it sounds like when it hits and what you are going to do. You can get angry, but why? Actually you are going to have plenty of reasons to get angry for a long time and it will just wear you out. Step back and let her figure life out and love her.



answers from Denver on

Take the food away. She won't starve. You need to establish yourself as the boss of her.



answers from Colorado Springs on

What a blessing to have two little girls close in age! Exhausting, yes, but a blessing.

Food-tossing is part of a toddler's job description. She's not being mean; she's just testing her limits. Or yours! Here's something (food) that she can control, that is fun to do, that attracts attention, and that gets a REALLY INTERESTING reaction out of Mommy, so why not toss the food and put on the show?

I just want to add to the other ideas moms have written that taking the food away isn't a retaliatory device to make your daughter starve! If she were hungry she'd definitely be eating her food, not playing with it (and this is a way to play).

Be friendly but firm, keep your sense of humor (!), and be in charge of the meal routine. "Sorry, no show today. Here - down you go. Maybe you'll be hungry at snack time. Let's find something GOOD to play with now." Don't give her throwing act any more attention than that. When she does it in her stroller, pick up the cup and put it away without comment.

She might want her cup/carrot stick/whatever back so she can toss it again (why not? It's fun). Just don't play the game, and stay happy instead. She won't starve, believe me, and when she sees you aren't putting on your part of the drama, she'll eventually lose interest and close the show.



answers from Pocatello on

Your baby is not throwing things off the highchair to annoy you, she is doing it because she is learing from it! Cause and effect, what will happen if I drop it slowly rather than quickly, what bounces and what splatters, etc. It is totally developmentally appropriate behavior, it's normal. You can do one of two things, continue to worry and get upset about it, or relax and let it go! If you have a dog he will be thrilled to clean up any spilled food for you. YOu daughter will outgrow this, but time outs and yelling are not going to be effective at this time, just explian that you are done playing this game and take her out of her high chair if it is causing trouble. Maybe a brake from the high chair would be helpful, you can feed her on your lap or let her sit on the floor and munch on some cheerios.



answers from Missoula on

K. O,

I would try feeding her, she may be missing you feed her and gets your attention when she throws her food, couldn't hurt to try feeding her and see if she reacts the same way.



answers from Austin on

I would avoid discipline at this age. Interact with her more while she's eating (singing, funny faces, etc), and if she throws food off, get her to help you pick it up afterwards so there is still a consequence without too much drama/reaction from you.



answers from Denver on

Hi! You are not alone...I also am a new Mom with two kids already...DD born on 12/11/07 and DS born on 1/12/09--13 months apart. I live in Westminster if you ever want to do a playdate or something. I suppose if this is our only issue, we must be doing ok with our kids, right? My 15 month old does the same thing. She drops her milk and says "uh-oh". She will even drop her food and say, "Bubba", our dog. Feeding the dog, what a smart girl. It's funny until it's not; I understand your frustration. I heard it's just a phase and indeed she has been getting better if I don't react to it, and say thank you when she decides to keep the sippy on the tray instead of on the floor. She HAS gone to bed w/ no dinner as a result of throwing it all on the floor--oh, well! Guess she wasn't hungry.



answers from Salt Lake City on

All of my kids did this. I never get the food & give it back to them. As soon as they start throwing things, meal time is over. They all get the point pretty quickly that throwing things tells mommy they're done. Within a few days for some - a few weeks for others, the throwing has stopped for us.



answers from Denver on

Don't just take the food away, take her out of the highchair, set her on the floor and tell her no more.

Then walk away. Don't put her in a position to throw stuff, have her take her drink from her cup then take the cup back. Don't let her continue to hold it and play the game. If you respond the game continues. For her Highchair, hand her only small portions at a time, the second she throws it instead of eating it I would take that as a cue she isn't hungry and get her down.
Just get her down and tell her "all done". If she pitches a fit, turn your back on her. Then 10 minutes later try again. She will get it, she will test you a bit and it is fun and all kids do it, just give it some time.



answers from Denver on

Hi K.,

I am the one who posted this question back in January :)

The good news: it is just a phase and my DS stopped it shortly after my post.

The bad news: in the past few days, he has regressed a bit and has started throwing food on the floor again.

I am again following the suggestions of taking all the food away when he does this and waiting a few minutes, before giving anything back.

This too, shall pass (again!)...

Paula :)



answers from Fort Collins on

I had the same problem with my daughter and it was really irritating so, because I have an ajustable height highchair I dropped the seat and put her at the dinner table so she couldn't push her plate off the edge. She still throws her cup but if she does that she doesn't get it back.... so try putting her at the table with everyone else. It worked for me. good luck

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches