Do you remember the first time your baby accidentally tossed some food over the edge of the highchair? Were they rewarded with the “plop” of the food hitting the ground or perhaps your giggles at the cuteness overload? Or maybe the family dog went nuts over the unexpected treat? Yup; now baby will want to throw at every.single.meal. We want to help you decrease or prevent this act, and I have a few recommendations on how to handle throwing at mealtime.
Throwing Food: I know that it’s frustrating to see food fly off the tray on to the floor, as this is inevitably followed by the “all fours” clean up. Here are some ideas to help you keep your sanity during this phase of feeding.
Move the highchair: For some babies we need to change up the environment in order to make mealtime less monotonous and more motivating! Try rearranging the highchair to another part of the room, other side of the table or next to daddy to give meals some novelty.
Ditch the tray: Try removing the highchair tray and position baby at the table. Place their bowl/plate directly on the dining table, which will make them feel more connected with the rest of the family. As a bonus, they now have the opportunity to more closely observe how the rest of the family is eating and not throwing their food.
- Focus on development: When you feel like you have reached your limit with food on the walls, try to focus on how your baby’s fine motor skills are developing (trust me, it will help manage the madness!). As your little one grabs (and throws) a fistful of food they’re also developing the sensory skills needed to learn about textures, temperatures and colors. Finally, baby is learning the cognitive skill of cause-and-effect, which is very important when it comes to feeding.
Throwing Dishware: When a child tosses a plate or bowl that you lovingly prepared with delicious food it can be exasperating. We totally get it…this frustration is why ezpz was started! Below are some tips to help your baby overcome this behavior.
Use a Plate: When a child likes to throw plates, try using the ezpz Mini Mat. The Mini Mat is a small plate + placemat in one that suctions to the highchair tray or table. The suction feature makes it difficult for little hands to toss and throw. Parents rejoice!
- Use a Bowl: For introducing new foods like purees, cereal, pasta or soup, the ezpz Tiny Bowl (5oz) and Mini Bowl (8oz) are great choices. They also suction to the tray or table!
Throwing in the Right Language: Some feeding therapists recommend saying “uh oh” with a shocked facial expression to help minimize throwing. But this animated voice and gesture may actually encourage the throwing game. I teach parents to say, “Food stays on the plate” and then place the item either on the plate or in a separate container. Here are some additional tips on how to do this successfully.
Splash Mat: I teach parents to say, “Food stays on the plate” and then place the item back on the plate. But if you don’t have a splash mat that food can be contaminated with dirt, dog hair or worse! I recommend purchasing a Splash Mat by BapronBaby, which is a cloth mat that goes under the highchair and keeps mealtime floors clean.
- All Done: During mealtime, it’s important to constantly monitor baby for their fullness cues. As baby grows and develops their intake will fluctuate. During mealtime look out for these cues and ask if baby is “all done.” Then, you can take the plate away before any throwing behaviors start out of frustration.
I hope my tips will help you and baby get through the throwing stage and dive deep into the eating stage! What are some of your mealtime ideas to decrease food tossing? #ezpzfun #startingsolids #makingmealtimeezpz
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.