Are foods routinely ending up on the floor and not in your child’s mouth? Is your kid getting a kick out of throwing their cup or dropping their utensils at mealtime? Find out how to address this pesky behavior.
Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
Are foods routinely ending up on the floor and not in your child’s mouth? Is your kid getting a kick out of throwing their cup or dropping their utensils at mealtime? This can be so frustrating and a total mess…but we’re here to help!
This is developmentally normal behavior, but that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying. Here are 5 ways you can address this pesky behavior:
If your baby is 4-8 months old, you can tap the tray and say, “Food stays on the tray.” Don’t pick up whatever they have dropped because that may make it seem like a game or a positive reward for the behavior.
If you have an older baby or child, explain that when they drop things it means that they are all done. Once you have communicated this boundary and they drop something, calmly and swiftly end the meal. If they say they’re hungry a few minutes later, tell them when the next meal or snack will be. We know holding this boundary is really, really hard, but when you don’t hold the line and give them food a few minutes later, you’re signaling that throwing food means they can eat “on demand” throughout the day.
And with kids of any age, reinforce the positive behaviors when you see them. This might sound like, “Look how well you’re keeping your plate on the tray!” or “Look how hard you’re working on using those utensils.”
If cup throwing is a major thing happening in your house, it’s also helpful to man their cup at mealtime. When your kid asks for a drink, hand them the cup and then calmly take it back. Do this until they’re skilled enough to handle the cup on their own.
Looking for other ways to bring harmony to the dinner table? Check out our article on How to Get Your Kids Excited About Mealtime and listen to our podcast on Picky Eating and Mealtime Struggles. And our Feeding Your Baby Solids course is a fantastic resource for raising independent and intuitive eaters. It’s filled with practical tips that you can watch at your own pace and on your time – even while doing the dishes!