thread: What to do about a child that throws food on the floor?

  1. #1
    Registered User

    Jun 2006
    Where the sun shines brightly!

    What to do about a child that throws food on the floor?

    It all started about 3 weeks ago. My 14+ month year old who has always adored food, and barely made any mess (coz it all went in his mouth) and cries whenever he sees anyone eating has started the delightful habit of throwing food on the floor. He then leans over the high chair to check out the mess. He even throws off the food he really enjoys and then gets upset when there is no food on his tray to eat.
    He does this in his room too - everytime I go into his room after a nap he has thrown his water bottle, blankets, and his toys onto the floor and is standing up just staring at it all.
    My first thought was that this is just a stage, that he will grow out of it, but he just seems to be doing it more and more, and I am getting really sick and tired of putting my love and time into making yummy home-cooked meals that just end up on the floor.
    I have tried saying 'No' loudly and firmly when he does it - which does not seem to phase him. I have also tried ignoring it, as I figured he may just be trying to get my attention. Last night I lost it a little and gave him a slap on the hand. Afterward I felt bad, but I didn't know what else to do...?? He will surely start waking up during the night if he doesn't get enough food into him??
    What have others done in this situation?? Is there a 'right' way to handle the situation?

    Any advice would be really appreciated!!


  2. #2
    kirsty_lee Guest

    I will be watching this thread closely, I have been wondering how to put a stop to this also. I can't even put a bowl with like sultanas or something on her high chair cause she will just throw the whole thing off the table. I've got to put them directly on the high chair table. She will still throw a few on the ground though which is just really frustrating. Plus her sippy cup etc as well

  3. #3

    Mar 2004

    I put a sheet out and let them sit on the floor to eat.
    Once they finished I would shake the sheet out in the garden for the birds and chooks and then chuck the sheet in the next load of washing.

  4. #4
    Registered User

    Dec 2006

    I also have this problem... must be a common stage???? I also worry that she isn't eating enough, cause everything I give her seems to end up on the floor

  5. #5
    Registered User

    Feb 2008
    Country Victoria

    Bron - but when they are on the floor, how do u get them to sit there and eat it and not end up with food all through the house?

  6. #6
    Registered User

    Jul 2006

    Um, get a dog!

    I understand your concerns about him eating enough, but I don't think he'll starve himself. My DS went through the same thing for a few months, but is now pretty much back on track. I really, really think that kids pick up on your stress, so if you're fretting about his eating he's likely to eat even less!

    And you know what? He's a boy, they love creating mess .

  7. #7

    Mar 2004

    Bron - but when they are on the floor, how do u get them to sit there and eat it and not end up with food all through the house?
    I just sat down with them.
    I probably did end up with food all though the house on the odd occasion. if the weather is nice then eating outside is a good option - the ants and birds will eat up the 'mess'.

  8. #8
    Registered User

    Jun 2006
    Where the sun shines brightly!

    Well, as horrible as it sounds I'm glad to read I'm not the only one with this problem!!

    Bron - that is not a bad idea. I was actually saying to DH last night that we will have to start putting a sheet down under his high chair when he eats!! Sigh....
    Can't wait til this phase is over....

  9. #9
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Feb 2006
    South Eastern Suburbs, Vic

    Aiee I'm too tough for you guys - I would take the food away after a few strikes, and take bub out of the highchair - dinner over. Then we might try for dinner take 2 30min later.

    I know for the eldest (who is older than your bub), I find it works giving him just a bit of food at a time, so he knows it's a valuable commodity, and then he's less likely to chuck it about. Your bub could think completely differently there though.

  10. #10
    Registered User

    May 2006

    Hi there..
    My DD went through this stage too..and it was very frustrating to keep cleaning the cooked meals off the floor...but i got one of those rubber brooms with dustpan set..which made it easier to clean.. i didnt make a fuss when she did it bcoz i knew she wouldnt understand and i didnt want to give her any attention for it. The phase passed after about 2 months . I would give her small amounts of food at a time..so if some went on the floor..there was still some to give her..then when there was none left..meal time over.

  11. #11
    Registered User

    Apr 2008
    The Purple House, Sydney

    Hmm. A bit like Nelle, I'm tough on this one- one deliberate throw and that's it, meal is over, and we try again half hour later. If it happens again, then the meal is over again. I asked my chn about this one and she said "if they are really hungry, they won't throw their food" which I think is pretty true.

    Mind you, that's for deliberate throwing, when he's doing it for a reaction or to make a mess, not the incidental messiness that comes with toddler meals.

  12. #12
    Registered User

    May 2007

    I ignore it.

    I figure its a stage, and if I make a fuss, he will just think its an even grander game!

    I give him small portions at a time, and figure if he's thrown it 3 times then he's not hungry any more.

    Then I get the dogs in!

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Oct 2007
    Sunshine Coast

    I remember hearing this is actually a developmental stage when they are learning about cause and effect, up and down, what happens if I drop this, how big a noise will it make when it hits the floor etc etc.

    I would be somewhat tolerant of it but if it is all dropping and no eating I would call it quits for that meal.

    Don't forget that their appetite starts decreasing in the second year because they aren't growing so quickly. DS used to eat WAY more as a baby than he did as a toddler. Also make sure that your DS isn't drinking too much milk and therefore just isn't as hungry for food because he is filling up on milk. I always used to try and get half of the meal into his mouth before offering a drink because even a small drink would take the edge off his appetite.

  14. #14
    Registered User

    Feb 2007
    In the jungle.

    I too heard that it was a developmental stage (from my wonderful mchn). So when DD1 started doing it at about 12 months, i just ignored it. She stopped soon enough, and doesn't do it (often) anymore. And if she does it now (20 months) it is more to try and get a reaction out of me, or she is bored and/or full, so i just take the food away, and don't make a big deal about it.

    ETA- DD often has one or two bites of food for dinner, but still sleeps all night. i too thought sh'd wake, but she doesn't. She eats well through the day, but not really much for dinner anymore. Toddler tactics has a good chapter about food/eating.

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Jan 2006

    We throw food, we stop eating. HOWEVER, we do have some small soft toys on the high chair tray so DS can drop them. And have a splat mat down.

    Some food spillage is expected, even with DS who loves food. I thought he was devouring his naan bread last night but I found some on the floor, dropped accidentally. Rice generally goes everywhere even without help. Deliberate spills mean no more food though.

  16. #16
    Registered User

    Feb 2009

    Thanks girls I thought I was alone on this one.
    It really bothers me that he does it because one, he is making a mess, two he is wasting food after all my efforts and three because I worry that he isnt eating enough.
    I am sure that if he was hungry enough that he wouldnt throw it but still... how can I not worry.
    He too throws his toys and anything he can find out of the cot
    Its drives me insane.

  17. #17
    Registered User
    Add fionas on Facebook

    Apr 2007
    Recently treechanged to Woodend, VIC

    Yep I think at that age it's cause and effect so I was pretty lenient with DD.

    But now she's had plenty of time to learn about cause and effect, so I'll stop dinner too because usually it's a sign that she's full. She's stopped doing that so much though and will instead try to put her bowl on the table (from her high chair) - that's her sign that she's finished.

    It was pretty funny though when she'd throw food on the floor and then pat mine or DP's head when we were cleaning it up as if to say, "good daddy/mummy for cleaning up." Cheeky blighter!

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Aug 2008

    I went to tough school on this one too. It is SO common - you should have seen the floors when I used to let 10 one year olds feed themselves! I don't even give chances - it's part of learning about cause and effect. They're too little to understand three strikes philosophy so they just end up getting mixed messages.
    Sometimes it's hard to work out how they grow between the ages of 1 and 2, when hardly any food goes in their mouth, but they all do. Don't fret too much about it. You don't want to end up with food issues.
    A plastic tablecloth under the high chair is good too. Hose it off, along with the baby!