June 30, 2019 2 min read
Do you have a little food thrower at the table?
Not only food… but cups, bowls, plates and cutlery? You’re not alone! #SoMuchMess !!!
Babies and toddlers throw food from the table for a variety of reasons.
One is that it teaches them depth perception (judging how near/far objects are when they drop them) and object permanence (that objects exist when out of view – like under the highchair etc).
Other reasons include exploring their world and learning cause and effect. When they drop food on the floor, this is teaching them that their parent will come over (or the dog in our case!) and attend to them. These are especially apparent in the baby stages (up to 18 months).
As babies get older, it can become a bit of a game and turn into attention seeking behavior.
Strategies to use when the throwing gets tough!
1. Don’t react! Your little one will think it’s a game – and want to play it over and over. The best thing to do is to simply pick up the plate that they have thrown and put it back in front of them. You can say ‘let’s leave our plate here.’ They may not understand what you’re saying but repetition is key and they will learn from your action.
2. Use tableware that won’t break or make loud noises. There is nothing worse than hearing the sound of a plate hit the floor several times in one sitting. Silicone tableware is great for this purpose – no chips, breakages or loud noises when it hits the floor.
3. If your child is continuously throwing food/tableware then it could be a sign that they are bored. Try changing up their plates, bowls, cups etc. They may simply have had enough with mealtime, so in this case it is probably time to end the meal. There is always a next time.
4. Another main reason that older babies throw their food/tableware is that they simply may not like the food. And that’s ok today… so my advice is to have a ‘no thank-you bowl’ where you teach them where to put those foods (instead of on the floor). You’re teaching them what to do, rather than not what to do. You’re teaching them how to refuse food in a respectful way which gives them control and minimizes the mess (and anxiety!).
5. If you can, try and catch them before they pick up their bowl to throw it, and redirect their behaviour - the key here is to get their mind off it and to prevent it from happening.
Making mess is so important at the table (and frustrating for us as parents, I know!). By doing this they explore different sensations and get lots of sensory input. But there is a limit, and using these strategies above will help your baby navigate their way through mealtimes in a fun way.
Do you have a little thrower? What other strategies have you used to help at mealtimes?