Is Your Toddler Throwing Food ?

Some Helpful Advice

If you are having problems with a toddler throwing food, you will find some practical tips to deal with the problem on this page.

Read through other questions and answers in the rest of the
parenting advice area. Different topics can often shed fresh light on your own tricky situations.

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A Toddler Throwing Food On The Floor, Should I Just Ignore It ?

I'm wondering if you have any advice on what to do when my son throws his food and sippy cup on the floor while eating.

Maybe These Suggestions Will Help

With a toddler throwing food about, may well be attention seeking. This is hardwired into every toddler's brain I'm afraid, and one of the biggest mistakes that parents make is to try to stamp attention seeking out.

I go into greater detail about this in the Attention Seeking section of the site.

How should you react? Don't. The best thing you can do is ignore it.

I think this is one of those situations, like putting ornaments out of the way, where you just have to work around your toddler. Don't let your son handle the cup and keep the plate away from the highchair. If he throws finger food on the floor, calmly pick it up.If he grabs the spoon while you are feeding him and throws it on the floor, calmly pick it up.

Continue giving him his food, even if he (literally) throws it back in your face. You want to show him that his negative attention seeking attempts are just not working.

Why not have a picnic lunch one day (indoors if the weather is bad - put a rug on the living room or kitchen floor) and use a child's toy tea set to eat and drink off.- Make a big thing about it being a special treat. You could cut sandwiches into fun shapes with those plastic play dough cutters, or use cut out a star, square, triangle etc.

- Let him choose which shape he wants and what to have in his sandwich.

- Play passing the cups, ask him to make you a cup of tea etc.

- If he likes dressing up, encourage this too.

See if your toddler throwing food is still an issue, or if he wants rather to join in the play - because this type of meal is play to a toddler, but cooperative play.

Toddlers absolutely love fun picnics like this. I would put money on this being a huge success and him not throwing his food and drink around.

Afterwards make a big deal about what a good boy he was eating his food so well and give him a sticker. The point is to create a reason to praise and reward him.

You don't say how old your child is. If he's old enough, set up a reward chart. This then gives him the attention he needs in a positive way and you can say to him "would you like a sticker?" before the next meal.


(NOTE:) Trial and error are really important in coping with any toddler who throws food, or indeed any behaviour problem. Observe and judge when your toddler is old enough to understand the concept of a delayed reward.

I remember trying in vain to get my son (who was 2 at the time) to sit still for a haircut. My promises of a trip to the toy shop straight after the hairdresser's was meaningless to him and we had to abandon haircut. He still hates it so much now at 3-and-a-half that the only way to get him to sit still is by feeding him multi coloured sweets and playing a 'guess which colour I've got in my hand?' type game.)


If waiting until the end of a the meal is beyond him, why not give him 2 or 3 stickers during the meal itself?

I can understand how having a toddler who throws food around must be stressful for you, so see if there is another adult who can feed him sometimes, so you don't feel you are handling this all on your own. See if this changes your toddler throwing food on the floor. Also see the link below about keeping calm when you feel under pressure.

Related pages that will help:

Ignoring Problem Behaviour

How To Stay Calm

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