Reader FAQ: Toddler Throwing Food

By : | 3 Comments | On : June 7, 2013 | Category : Fussy Eaters, Tips & Tricks

Kids will be kids, and there will be times when their behaviour is just plain random and confusing but will often go back to normal without changing anything. Sometimes, the answer to your problem is over a coffee with a friend, posting the question in an online mother’s group, or secret forum. A fellow mummy with experience can often provide that little bit of wisdom, the glimmer of hope that you have been looking for or at the very least, a new idea to try.

We certainly don’t have all the answers. So these FAQ blog posts are to be seen like this…  if our closest friends were to ask our advice, these would be our answers. But don’t let it stop with us, If you have an idea that might help others, we would love to hear it. Leave a comment after this post, or join our Facebook page to talk to other parents.

“Help, my 13 month old son is throwing food from the highchair”

Almost all babies go through a period of throwing food.

Usually throwing food is a sign that your little darling is either not hungry, testing your boundaries, or too tired to eat. So try and think about when the throwing of food started, and look at your routine to see if you have made any subtle changes recently that might have thrown things our of whack.

Here are a few suggestions for when this delightful phase starts: 

  • Always feed him when he isn’t too tired/ or over tired.
  • The first time food is thrown, try not to laugh, or react at all really. Sometimes it is simply your reaction that encourages the behaviour.
  • Make sure he is hungry. The easiest way to do this is to limit snacking and to schedule meal times properly.
  • Continue to spoon feed him healthy nutritious food to start the meal (when he is hungriest and most alert). Following this you can try giving him a tasting plate of finger foods for the remainder of the meal. Once the food throwing starts you can remove the plate and let him down from the table knowing he has had a really good meal.
  • Ask him to place any food he doesn’t want in one corner of the highchair tray and gently praise him for doing so (don’t go over the top or all food will go here!) When you see him throw something, move his hand to place the food down, praise, and carry on. If he then picks up another piece to throw remove the food, dinner time is over. Continue at each meal.
  • Try not make too much fuss about the throwing, he will be trying to get your attention and see what reaction you give, if you give none but she knows you aren’t pleased and her food is removed the behaviour should stop in a few days.
  • He may be teething or going through a period of growth and isn’t interested in food. Keep offering nutritious meals and this phase will soon pass.

Click through to see our earlier posts for more information on Fussy Eating, Developing a Mealtime Ritual, or Raising a Good Eater.


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  1. posted by Alexandra on September 20, 2013

    Hi, my 10month old is now refusing to be spoon fed so I’ve started offering finger foods however most of the food ends up on the floor. She generally takes a bite then starts playing with the food and drops it or throws it. It can be very frustrating and I’m concerned she is not eating enough given how active she is. I’m not sure what else I can do!

    • posted by Allie on September 22, 2013

      Hi Alexandra, Babies will often go through phases of food refusal. My personal opinion would be to continue trying to spoon feed your daughter, perhaps give her a spoon too, changing the temperature and texture to try and find something she likes – be mindful of snacks etc throughout the day and keep to a mealtime schedule so you are sure she is hungry. Once she had had enough, you can then offer a “tasting plate” of age appropriate finger foods for her to try. She can experiment with these finger foods and develop her chewing skills. We have a post on “The tasting plate” here:
      Fussy or picky eating can be extremely stressful and even heartbreaking. For strategies specific to you and your child we would recommend seeking advice from a dietitian, speech pathologist or occupational therapist trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding. They assess and treat children with feeding difficulties by intergrating posture, sensory, motor, behavioural/learning, medical and nutritional considerations.
      I hope that helps, please keep us posted, Ax


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