Food Throwing + Morning Nature Walk

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Hello! Happy Hump Day! How’s it going so far?

Our day started bright and early at 5:55 AM. Quinn was wide awake and ready to go after a good night’s sleep. (He was exhausted after daycare yesterday, so he went to bed a little earlier than usual last night.) We started our morning like we always do: A “baba” for Quinn and iced coffee for “Mama” on the couch with some cuddle action mixed in.

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A short while later, Quinn was hungry for breakfast, so I set him up in his chair with Chex + milk (he likes them soggy), strawberries, kiwi, cottage cheese, and some water with a splash of orange juice. He started out great with his breakfast, using a fork for the fruit and his fingers for the Chex and cottage cheese– but then he started throwing his food. Not just dropping it on the floor, but throwing it across the kitchen island. Hey, now. I’ve read all sorts of advice about food throwing, but we’re not having much luck. Maybe he’s too young to understand? We put Murphy behind a baby gate in the den when we feed Quinn, so that kind of helps because he’s not tossing food to the dog. And once Quinn starts throwing his food, we usually take over and feed him ourselves, which keeps the kitchen much cleaner, but it doesn’t give him the chance to practice feeding himself. Help! Moms, any advice to stop the food throwing nonsense?

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After breakfast, we took Murphy for a walk around the neighborhood.

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And then we read a million books. (The photo below is like a 1/4 of the books we read this morning!)

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Quinn also chased Murphy around the house with his learning walker. As you can see, they were both having a blast! Haha!

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After that, we got ourselves ready to meet some friends at the South Shore Natural Science Center.

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I subscribe to the Macaroni Kid South Shore newsletter and saw an event for a guided nature walk this morning, so I invited my friend Jenn and her son to check it out with Quinn and me.

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Quinn and I arrived a little early, so we explored the indoor “Ecozone,” which had all sorts of exhibits and aquariums with turtles, frogs, and other tiny animals.

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It also had a tunnel for making LOUD NOISES inside! #maniac

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The nature tour kicked off around 10:45 AM and lasted about an hour. The first stop was saying “good morning” to the chickens! Cluck, cluck! The kids also had the opportunity to feed them lettuce, which sent the birds scampering around the coop.

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Quinn was a huge fan of the chickens and lingered long after the group headed into the woods.

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The rest of the tour was a leisurely guided walk through the nearby trails with stops to explore trees, insects, and other interesting parts of nature.

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I’m so glad we went! It was a fun way to spend the morning!

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Question of the Day

Moms, do you have any advice for me? The food throwing drives me nuts! 

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64 Comments

  1. The more you react to it, the more he’ll keep doing it for your reaction to pick the food up, it’s a game. You just kinda need to ignore it, it eventually stops. I’ve been through it with both my boys. It is super annoying. 🙁 good luck

  2. No advice. Eleanor does the same thing and I feel like I’m giving in when I feed her but OMG the mess (our dining room is carpet :'( )!

  3. Could he be signalling that he’s done? You could try moving the food out of reach to see if he reaches for it…if he reaches for it, you give him a piece and he eats it, try moving the food closer to see if he eats more. If he just reaches for it to throw, maybe he is full. (I also tell my son “if you do not want it, you can put it here” and then I point to a spot for him to put it instead of throw it…he didn’t understand at first, but he does now)

    1. We assume my son if done if he’s throwing…”oh, you are throwing your food, food stays on our tray, so if you are throwing it, we are all done! I’ll get you cleaned up”…try that for a few days, and he’ll stop. You could also teach him the sign language signal for “all done”, so he can signal when he’s finished.

      1. Exactly what I was going to suggest! I’m a big believer in allowing my kids to eat intuitively. If they are throwing food, they are done even if they hardly ate anything. If they are hungry, they will eat what I give them.

      2. I always did that too. When the throwing starts I would assume they were getting bored in their high chair. All done!

  4. Quinn is so cute!! I’m not a mom (yet!), but as a family therapist and former nanny, I have a lot of experience with kids. Kids will do anything for a reaction from you, whether a positive or negative one 🙂 What often works really well is to look super disinterested/bored whenever the child does something you don’t like (so, throwing food), and to look super impressed/interested whenever they’re doing what you want them to do (practicing eating with his fork). I always tell my clients “What you pay attention to will grow”, so the more attention you give something (a specific behavior), the more it’ll happen. I hope that helps!!

  5. I don’t have kids, but I was a nanny during high school & college. When the kiddos start to throw, that usually means they are done eating. Take the food away and out of the chair. If they are truly hungry, they will be eating not throwing.

  6. I can’t stand food throwing either, it’s messy and wasteful. My youngest is 16 months and once she starts throwing food I take her plate away. If I don’t think she’s had enough to eat I wait a few minutes and give the plate back, if she’s still throwing the food, that’s it meal time is over. You can always offer a snack a little later. She hasn’t done this too much in awhile, it seems to be a phase they all go through.

  7. My son went through this too and it def passes. We def ignored and even started giving him less at once. He was throwing sometimes Bc he was done. Sometimes Bc it was fun and sometimes Bc he didn’t like it. Who knows lol.

  8. We try to ignore our 21 month old when she does it. We also realized that when she starts throwing the food, she’s usually done. We take away the plate, ask her if she wants more or wants help eating and if she says no we put the food away.

  9. Oh! And it sounds a little wacky, and it took a few tries, but we give her an empty bowl with her food. We tell her that if she wants to throw anything it has to go in that bowl – it’s definitely helped keep the kitchen cleaner!

  10. My 20 month old still throws food :/. Good luck! My child also climbs up onto the table since we transitioned out of the high chair. When our dog was alive, she gained a lot of weight once we had kids, because she ate all of the food off the floor!

  11. Oh man! No fun! What has worked for us is saying, “Uh-oh… we keep food on our trays…” (genuinely and with empathy) and taking all of the food away… As in.. no more, not even a snack until the next meal. 🙁 It only takes a time or two but it does take commitment. They’re smart little guys so they figure it out fast b/c they want their grub. With number two she works better with me saying,” Do you want another try?” and typically then she keeps it on her tray but oh man… not fun!! 🙂 hang in there. Eventually he won’t throw it. ha ha – encouraging right?!. 😉

  12. Take the food away! He’ll catch on really fast. ha!
    What would you do if he took away your iced coffee! haha!
    And ditto the reaction/trying to get your attention that just reinforces.

    1. We tried taking his food away, but then he wouldn’t eat. At all. For days. We thought he’d eventually get hungry and stop, but he never really did. It was like a hunger strike!

      1. No way! Wow, stubborn cutie you got on your hands there! Let’s hope that’s not a sign of things to come…haha!
        I’d still take it away. If he’s not growing right now, he doesn’t need much food, so he’s not hungry. Our pedi says kids hunger cues are the best and haven’t been altered by media, emotions, society, family, etc. Forcing your kid to eat is the worst. I try to remind myself of that often. I actually try to mimic my dd when it comes to eating….she only eats if she’s hungry. me…not so much! ha! It’s dinner time, so I should eat, right?!!? Not always. Anyway, just something to think about and def ask your pedi!

  13. I was going to write what some others have written, that when the food starts getting thrown around he may just be done. I find that when my little guy starts to get sloppy and dropping food on the floor, that he’s pretty much done so I just take the food away.

    Also, maybe give him his food in smaller portions, only putting smaller amounts on his tray and when he’s done add more to see if he’s still hungry?

  14. I agree with a few of the moms here – we simply take her plate of food away and if she reaches/asks for it, I give it back and see if it happens again. It often means that she’s full.

  15. My son (I have 16-month-old twins) always throws his sippy cup as soon as he is done with all the liquid in it. So I recently started the game of praising him when he puts it down nicely. So far that is doing well.

    If he is throwing food, I would take that as a cue that he’s done eating. I would take it away, or give him praise for eating a bite then ignore the throwing. I just introduced plates to my kids and they are eating the food off of them pretty nicely (I am pleasantly surprised by this!), but once that plate gets turned upside down it is done and the meal is over.

    I am also recommending this book that was recommended to me: Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense. I am finding that it really helped me get a grip on the feeding thing and not worrying too much if they don’t eat a lot at one meal or they just play with their food at another–it’s all part of the learning curve. (Side note: I got the book from the library because a lot of the first part of it is about breastfeeding.)

    1. We figured out the sippy cup throwing (praising him when he puts it on his tray), but it doesn’t seem to work with food. Thanks for the book recommendation!

  16. Don’t worry! It won’t last long and I’m pretty sure it’s a rite of passage into toddlerhood. That said, you’ll need to train him to Not throw his food. I have two boys, one who’s 3 and the other is Quinn’s age. When our little one starts throwing his food, I assume he’s done and quickly take the food away and say, “No, we don’t throw food. All done.” He’ll eventually learn that if he throws food, the consequence is that it’s taken away. We also teach the sign for “all done” so he has another way to tell us.

    Good luck! 🙂

  17. Thank you for bringing back memories of when my daughter was little! Nature walks and nature centers were some of her favorite things. She would have loved the little trip to the science center. 🙂 Thanks for making me smile!

  18. It drove me crazy as well, and I tried everything mentioned without success. I took over feeding my son as well, because I couldn’t stand the mess. It soon passed as phases usually do and he can feed himself just fine. So don’t stress too much it’ll pass!

  19. My little dude did this too (now 21 months) and for some reason it drove me BONKERS! I was irrationally frustrated by it, I admit, but it was so annoying. It didn’t matter if he was hungry or not hungry and he even did it to his favorite foods (blueberries on the floor…dude…they are like $1 a piece!!). I had one tough week where I would firmly say “No, we don’t throw food” every time he did it and take his plate off of his tray. I’d ask him if he would like to continue eating (and not throwing) and then give it back. If he threw more, I actually took him out of his high chair and said he needed to take a break. It was annoying because it prolonged the meals and I felt like things were always a mess. But, we took a break… I’d let him play for a few minutes and then I’d tell him we were going to try to eat again and back in the high chair he went. We did this for every meal and every darn piece of food thrown. I also started using a plate or bowl at this time (before I just put his food directly on his tray). Figured we’d try to kill 2 birds with one stone and teach him how to not dump food off his plate or throw that too. It took a solid week of doing this consistently but suddenly it just clicked and now he is fun to eat with again! And if something does happen to fall while he is eating now he looks up and says his version of “sorry mama.”

  20. My daughter is about a month older than Quinn and she also throws her food. I’ve noticed that if there is too much food on her tray she will throw it. Also, she usually throws the items that she doesn’t like or is done with. If I only give two different food choices at a time she does a lot better. Good luck!

  21. The throwing food thing drives me nuts too! I have tried taking it away, ignoring it, and putting a plastic shower curtain under her high chair. If you find anything that works, PLEASE share! I feel like it is their (annoying) way of exerting their independence. A phase? Sure. Does it stink? Yes!

  22. I would guess he’s done. Or he’s testing his limits with you. My oldest was a very focused eater so we didn’t really have this problem but my youngest? Total food thrower. We have found that a combination of ignoring or making him be done has helped some. He still tends to want to play with his food though so I do make him help clean up any mess he makes.

  23. Not a mom, but a seasoned early childhood educator and parent educator here. I agree with all of the comments along the lines of “if he’s throwing, he’s done.” Also, you may want to consider serving him less food at a time, or only one thing at a time (i.e., first cereal, then fruit, then cottage cheese, or whatever order.) Sometimes kids get overwhelmed by too much in front of them and/or too many choices, and that could be why he is throwing. Also, you can state the rule, “we use our spoon for our food.” “We throw balls.” Also I second what someone said about praising him and paying lots of attention to him for using his spoon and eating his food, and ignoring the throwing. I recently read an article about referring to the toddler stage as the “boundaries stage” — this is only just beginning, I’m sure! Toddlers are tough, but they are also awesome. 🙂 Good luck!

    1. @catherine (FOOD SNOB): Also, one more thing. Do you sit with him and eat with him? That might also help. Some comments along the lines of, “see how Mommy uses her spoon for her cereal? Can you eat your cereal like Mommy?” Modeling is also powerful, and if he is looking for your attention, giving it to him outright (before the throwing occurs) might do the trick!

  24. My advice would be to just take Quinn down from the chair or take the food away from the chair when he starts to throw it. If he wants to eat he will stop. Kids will not starve themselves.

  25. Just keep taking the food away when he throws it. It might take awhile for him to stop because boys are STUBBORN!!! The best advice my pediatrician gave me was that kids will not starve themselves…they will eat if they are hungry.

  26. My daughter is Quinn’s age and does this too – she also loves to windshield wiper food off her tray – so annoying! We found giving her less food at a time helps and seriously some days we have to give her beans one at a time! Also, she tends to eat MUCH better when we eat with her!

  27. I have a 14 month old who throws food sometimes. It’s usually a sign that she’s done and as soon as she starts throwing, I take everything away. If I am pretty sure she’s still hungry though, then I just give her one bite at a time and that usually works. Quinn will grow out of it in a few months no matter what though!

  28. My son is 14 mos and does the same thing. Throwing food signals he is done eating though so maybe Quinn is done when he tosses? We did have to tie up the dog so she wouldn’t stand right next to the high chair while he ate. I swear they had a system so that the dog could perfectly time her mouth to be open for something to drop in 🙂

  29. Ugh that was a fun stage, I remember it well!

    We tried ignoring too, but it didn’t work. We’d tell her that food stays on her plate the first time, the next time give her a warning that we’d take her plate away if she threw again, and then followed through with removing her plate and cleaning her up until her next meal. And we wouldn’t give snacks until at least an hour after, so she didn’t associate throwing food with getting snacks. There were some tears, but she got it pretty quickly. They understand so much more than we think they do, truly!

  30. Lady, I STILL have to pick up my fork and feed my three-year-old on occasion, when she’s too excited to distracted to eat and starts throwing her food, or smearing it on the table. She still uses a spoon and fork perfectly well (as long as she’s not being silly). Just do what works. He’s not going to enter high school as a food-thrower, he will outgrow it, and probably fairly soon.

  31. You got a lot of good advice above. I’ll add… We had a similar issue, so I cut back the milk first thing in the morning and/or gave it to him with breakfast (advice from the pediatrician). This way, he’s hungrier and not already full from milk. I also have him help me clean up the food he throws (taking it to the sink or garbage can). Good luck. As with most things, this too shall pass.

  32. When ours starts throwing food on purpose we take his plate away and take a break. We give it back 5-10 minutes later and if he still throws food after that meal time is over. We are also teaching him to say all done rather than tossing his plate because it seems he gets naughty when he is full.

  33. I was skimming through these responses because we are dealing with food throwing too. It looks like the most common response is that they are done eating. I’m going to give it a try. If you have success with this or any other method, please post it so we’ll know!

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