Meals and Throwing Food

Updated on April 26, 2010
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
8 answers

My thirteen-month old likes to throw food on the floor constantly from her highchair. She turns her plate over and makes such a mess! Is there any way I can prevent her from doing this or to minimize how much food is on the floor? I understand babies start dropping things likes toys to get you to pick them up but when it comes to food, it is a little frustrating! Thank you!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the advice. I think not reacting like I have been to my daughter's food throwing is a good idea. It takes more energy to react anyway and she will just keep doing it. Floor mats under the high chair are a good idea, I just might buy one. As for putting Alyssa in a chair instead of a high chair, this wouldn't work for me yet. I think my daughter is too wobbly not to mention too short to sit in a dining room chair. I used to use the Bumbo seat but it's too low to the floor and with table food instead of baby food, I need her in a high chair. Thanks again!

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answers from New York on

Give her just a little bit at a time, when she starts tossing it over the side, wipe her hands and face and take her out of the high chair. Don't be afraid to tell her no to throwing food on the floor. She'll get it and quickly. But stop her BEFORE there's a big mess on the floor.

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answers from Minneapolis on

If she throws her food, take it away. She's obviously more interested in playing than in eating. She'll figure it out quickly. You shouldn't raise your voice or anything - simply take the food away and say, "I see you're done eating." If she cries, than you can give her two chances. Tell her, "We don't throw food. If you want to eat, you need to eat your food." Then you can give it back to her. If she does it again, take it away again.

Also, have her sit with you at the table rather than in a high chair. She should be learning proper table manners already at this point. Meal time can come with expectations about how to behave, even at 13 months.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

To make clean up on the floor easier they now offer at stores (like Babies R Us) floor mats to put under feeding chairs. Only put a few pieces of food at a time on her plate. It is tedious, but it reduces the amount of food that ends up on the floor. Remember to take some pictures too so you can remind her how fun it was to feed her at this age :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My daughter (20 mos) does this too once she is done really eating. I just take the remaining food away without saying a word. She will let me know if she is still hungry and I give her another shot at eating...if she still plays with it by throwing...she's done! She likes to turn plates and bowls over too, so whenever we are eating here at home I put the food directly on her highchair tray (just so the temptation isn't there!). The floor mat is a great idea too...I'm going to look for one myself!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We got suction cup plates and bowls, but that only stops them from dumping the entire thing on the floor. My son now likes to vacuum so he constantly is tossing food on the floor to run it over with his toy one. We went out and got a battery operated vacuum to help with the messes. It is very frustrating, but I think it is just a phase.

Good luck



answers from Nashville on

This is a totally normal, if annoying, developmental milestone. She is learning about gravity and physics and cause and effect. So just understand that she is not doing it to be "bad" or defiant or anything.

That's not to say it isn't totally annoying! I found that if I gave my son less food at a time he wouldn't throw it. If he had a huge pile of what looked like unlimited food to him, most of it would go on the floor. If he got half a dozen puffs or peas or whatever at a time, he ate them instead and only started throwing once he was done. So I just kept putting a few bites at a time in front of him and he did much better.

When he did do it, I didn't really react and just took the food away. I could usually tell if he was actually done or not. If I knew he still needed to eat I would give it back in a minute.

If it was something dry and easy to clean, I occasionally let him get in a few throws. :)



answers from New York on

I definitely know how frustrating throwing food can be, but hang in there. My son went through the tip the plate, throw the food, toss the cup phase as well. It was not fun. Everytime he would drop something or go to drop something I would react. Either by saying, "Put your hand down." or "Don't throw that food." get the picture. It never worked. So, I turned to my mom for help. She simply said, "Stop reacting." Toddlers love a good reaction from mom and dad. It gives them a litte power and also becomes somewhat of a game. My mom told me that the second we saw that he was going to throw food we should immediately take his plate and cup away and say, "We don't throw our food. Food is for eating." I then was to wait a couple of minutes and then place a piece of food in front of him and offer him a sip from his cup and explain that until he could sit at the table like a big boy he would not be getting his plate and cup back. We tried it. He dropped his food. We did not react at all. We did not bend down to pick up the food on the floor. We simply took his plate and cup, let him deal with that for a minute and then gave him a piece of food. Yes, meal times were longer because of this one piece of food at a time strategy, but after doing this for about a week we are now the proud parents of a non-food thrower. Well, 98% of the time at least. :) Good luck and remember don't pick up that food right away.


answers from Norfolk on

When my son started doing this I seriously considered feeding him in the bath tub. When the weather was nice, I fed him outside. Just give her a little at a time. When the throwing starts, the meal is over.

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