Do you have a food thrower? I bet the frustration of seeing your lovingly prepared meal all over the floor is causing you to boil up inside!
I will start with the bad news: food throwing is an inevitable part of your little ones introduction to food. Babies love the opportunity to interact with food, they are curious and want to get involved as a way of exploring what it is all about.
There are a few reasons why your baby or toddler is throwing food, so it might help to stop, look at your baby’s cues and think about why:
- They are learning cause and effect
- They are not hungry / full
- They don’t like the food, eg: taste, texture
- They have been sitting too long / bored
- They find it difficult to hold or eat
- They are tired
- They want to get a reaction from you (applies for toddlers and older children)
Here is what I like to recommend to clients to minmise food throwing behaviours:
1. Don’t react. By staying cool, calm and collected you will be sending a message that you are not phased by this behaviour. This also helps to reduce extra attention around the behaviour, which can lead to more throwing in the future.
2. Show patience + explain. After a minute or so, pick up the thrown food off the floor, whilst saying something like “Your food is on the floor. There is no more left, that’s what happens when we throw our food. Food belongs at the table, so let’s pick it up now”. Offer the thrown food no more than 2-3 times.
3. Try an extra plate. This works well for older babies, so can be introduced from around 10-12 months. When you see baby going to throw the food, hold out the extra plate and say something like “if you don’t want it, you can put your food on this plate, not on the floor”. It may take a few attempts for them to get it, so patience is again required, our little ones are still learning.
4. Follow the Division of Responsibility. This is a model that outlines both yours and your child’s roles when it comes to mealtimes. Your roles centre around what, when and where food is offered, whereas your child’s role is about deciding how much food to eat and whether to eat anything at all (Ellyn Satter Institute, 2023). It can be a incredibly powerful way to remove yourself of the emotions that come up for parents when their child is refusing certain foods or meals and allows our children to develop a good understanding of their own bodies.
5. Eat together as a family! Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of shared family meals. They play a role in improving nutritional outcomes, transmit important cultural traditions and provide an opportunity for positive role modelling from caregivers and siblings (Cameron et al., 2013)
I hope you have found some new tips to add to your mealtime toolkit. If you need extra guidance with starting solids, I can support you in 2 ways:
- 1:1 consultation: perfect for families looking for tailored support, these consults can be customised to your little ones unique needs. Click here to start with a 15min discovery call.
- Mealtime Magic group session: a 60min webinar style workshop, with a focus on starting solids, introducing allergens and setting up positive mealtime behaviours. Perfect for a group of friends with babies of a similar age. Click here to book your group session.
Cameron, Sonya & Taylor, Rachael & Heath, Anne-Louise. (2013). Parent-led or baby-led? Associations between complementary feeding practices and health-related behaviours in a survey of New Zealand families. BMJ open. 3. e003946. 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003946.
Ellyn Satter Institute (2023). Raise a healthy child who is a joy to feed.https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/how-to-feed/the-division-of-responsibility-in-feeding/