If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve likely noticed I’ve been documenting the mealtime struggle of food throwing with Joey, my sweet 18 month-old toddler. I love baseball, football, basketball, etc. any sport that involves some type of throwing. But I don’t consider mealtime a sport, much to Joey’s dismay. Although we’re still working through this stage [and yes, I consider it a stage because deep down I know he won’t be throwing food at me when he’s 15], I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that have limited Joey’s food throwing. Here are my top 5 ways to stop your toddler’s food throwing:
Tip #1: Turn your back. This one is SO much easier said than done. You better believe I wanted to yell, “great throw Joey,” when I saw a carrot go across my dining room table and into the living room. But like most toddler behaviors, the smiles, laughs, and praise mean that it’s more likely to be continued. Also, the no’s, stop, and don’t do it mean that it’s more likely to be continued too.
Tip #2: Give your child your undivided attention. I realize that this is the exact opposite of the previous tip. But I notice if I am cleaning dishes, cooking, or talking on my phone when Joey eats then the food throwing increases. Can you blame him? I wouldn’t want to be ignored while I ate a meal either! I suggest sitting down with your child and model the behavior you want them to imitate at the table—and heck, enjoy a family meal, even if it’s just the two of you!
Tip #3: Limit the food on their plate or tray. The more the merrier, right?! Not in this case. The amount of food on your little one’s tray might simply be overwhelming to them, tempting them to try their hand at food throwing. Not everyone likes an all you can eat buffet at each meal.
Tip #4: Make sure your child is REALLY hungry. It’s sometimes hard to gauge when Joey is hungry because he can’t come out and say “I’m hungry Mom!” just yet. To make sure Joey has somewhat of an appetite when it comes to mealtime, I limit the snacking to at least an hour or 1.5 hours before a scheduled meal. This has cut down on the food throwing substantially!
Tip #5: Redirect their attention. I’ve started making food throwing a learning opportunity for Joey. “Joey, lets put the green apple in this bowl!” “How many apples are in the bowl now?” Also, while most of the kid-friendly food I serve can go directly on Joey’s tray, I started using compartment plates and letting him eat meals with a fork and spoon. Both of which have distracted him enough that he’s not showing off his right-hand curveball with the ravioli for dinner!
If all else fails, I’d suggest ending mealtime. There’s no use in continuing to give your child ammo if it’s just going to end up on your floor. This doesn’t mean your child is excused from the table or their highchair. Continue eating your dinner [or breakfast, lunch, and dinner in my case] to set the example that just because they might be done eating it doesn’t mean everyone else at the table is.
What am I missing? Are there any other tips or tricks that help with the food throwing debacle in your home?