Say Goodbye to Food Flinging: A Parent’s Guide on Stopping Toddler Food Throwing!

As a parent, mealtime with a toddler can often feel like a battle of wills. Despite your best efforts, it seems like no matter how many times you tell them to stop, your little one insists on throwing their food, leaving a mess and making dinner time anything but enjoyable. If you’re feeling at your wit’s end and wondering how to put an end to this messy and frustrating behavior, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies on how to get your toddler to stop throwing food and make mealtime a peaceful and enjoyable experience for the whole family.


Throwing food is a common behavior in toddlers that can be frustrating for parents. It may start as a playful game, but it can quickly become a habit that is difficult to break. Not only can this behavior lead to wasted food and meals, but it can also be dangerous if the objects being thrown are hard or have sharp edges. If your toddler has developed a habit of throwing food, you may be wondering how to get them to stop. In this guide, we will discuss the reasons why toddlers throw food, as well as strategies and tips on how to put an end to this behavior.

Understanding why toddlers throw food

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to understand why toddlers throw food in the first place. At this stage of development, throwing can be seen as a form of exploration and experimentation for children. They are learning about cause and effect and want to see what happens when they drop or throw objects. Throwing also provides a sense of control for toddlers who are still learning to communicate their needs and wants effectively.

Additionally, throwing food can also be linked to other behaviors such as testing boundaries, seeking attention, or even simply boredom. As parents, it’s important to observe your child’s behavior and try to determine what is triggering their throwing habits.

Tips for preventing your toddler from throwing food

Now that we understand some potential reasons behind the behavior, let’s explore some practical tips on how to prevent your toddler from throwing food.

1. Set clear expectations

It’s important to establish clear rules and expectations around mealtime with your child. Let them know that throwing food is not acceptable and explain why – such as it being wasteful or potentially harmful. Consistency is key here, so make sure you stick to these rules and calmly reinforce them when necessary.

2. Be mindful of portion sizes

Sometimes, a toddler may throw food simply because they are full and don’t want to eat anymore. To avoid this, be mindful of portion sizes and only serve small amounts of food at a time. This can also prevent your child from becoming overwhelmed with too much food on their plate.

3. Engage your child in meal preparation

Involving your child in meal preparation can not only make them feel more independent and empowered, but it can also make them more interested in eating the food that they helped prepare. This can reduce the likelihood of them throwing it as they will feel a sense of responsibility.

4. Make mealtime fun

Sometimes, children may throw food as a way to get attention or simply because they are bored. Making mealtime fun and engaging can help prevent this behavior. Try using colorful plates or utensils, playing music, incorporating games or stories into the meal, or even having themed meals.

Strategies for dealing with food-throwing during mealtimes

Even with preventative measures in place, there may still be times when your toddler throws their food during mealtimes. Below are some strategies you can use to address this behavior:

1. Remain calm

As challenging as it may be, it’s important to remain calm when your child throws their food. Getting angry or frustrated will only escalate the situation and potentially reinforce the behavior as a means to gain attention.

2. Don’t make a big deal out of it

In most cases, toddlers throw food as a way to test boundaries and see how you will react. By overreacting or giving them tons of attention when they do this behavior, you are reinforcing it as an effective tactic for getting attention. Instead, try to ignore the behavior, calmly clean up any mess, and move on with the meal.

3. Use distraction or redirection

If your child is throwing food out of boredom, try to redirect their attention to something else. For example, you could give them a small toy to play with at the table or involve them in a conversation. This can help shift their focus away from throwing food.

4. Avoid power struggles

Sometimes, toddlers may throw food as a way to test their limits and assert their independence. It’s important not to engage in a power struggle with your child over this behavior. Instead, calmly remove the food and let them know that mealtime will continue without it.


It’s common for toddlers to throw food as part of their development and exploration process. However, it’s important for parents to set clear expectations and use strategies to prevent this behavior from becoming a habit. By being consistent and staying calm, you can help your toddler learn more appropriate ways of expressing themselves during mealtimes. Remember to observe your child’s behavior and be patient – with time and patience, your child will learn how to eat without throwing their food

The Importance of Teaching Your Toddler Table Manners

Toddlers can be notoriously messy eaters. It’s a stage of development where exploring food and their surroundings is a natural part of growing up. However, it’s also important to start teaching your toddler table manners early on. Not only does it make meal times more pleasant for the entire family, but it also helps lay the foundation for good social skills and behavior in the future.

One key element of teaching table manners is to address the habit of throwing food. It can be frustrating and even infuriating when your little one constantly throws food on the floor or at you during meal times. It makes a mess, wastes food, and can even be dangerous if they are throwing hard objects or utensils. So, how do you get your toddler to stop throwing food?

Setting Clear Expectations

Before you can start addressing the issue of throwing food, it’s important to set clear expectations with your toddler. This means consistently reinforcing what behavior is acceptable at the table and what is not. Explain that when food is served, it should be eaten or politely refused if they don’t like it. Throwing or playing with food is not allowed.

Consistency is key in establishing expectations. If you let your toddler throw food one day but scold them for it another day, they will become confused and inconsistent in their own behavior.

Modeling Good Behavior

Children learn by observing those around them, especially their parents or caregivers. This means that as adults, we need to model good behavior at meal times as well. If you constantly throw food or make a mess while eating, your toddler will think this behavior is acceptable.

Make sure to sit down at the table with your child during meals and demonstrate proper table manners yourself. Use utensils correctly, eat slowly instead of rushing through a meal, and engage in polite conversation. Your child will pick up on these habits and be more likely to imitate them.

Be Patient and Consistent

As with any behavior, it takes time for children to learn and fully adopt new habits. Be patient and consistent in reminding your toddler of the expectations at the table. It may take several reminders before they start to understand what is expected of them.

It’s also important to stay calm when addressing the issue of throwing food. Yelling or punishing your child will only make them more resistant to change. Instead, calmly remind them of the rules and redirect their behavior if necessary.

Make Meal Times Fun

Meal times should not be a source of stress or tension for both you and your toddler. To make it more enjoyable, try incorporating fun elements into meal times. This could be using colorful plates, having a special “eating song” or making funny faces with food.

You can also involve your toddler in preparing meals, which can create a sense of ownership and pride in what they are eating. Talk about different foods, where they come from, and encourage your little one to try new things.

Reward Good Behavior

Just like adults, children respond well to positive reinforcement. When your toddler displays good table manners by not throwing food, make sure to praise and reward their behavior. This could be something as simple as saying “Great job using your fork!” or giving them a small treat after the meal.

By acknowledging their good behavior, you are reinforcing positive habits that will hopefully continue in the future.

What If The Behavior Persists?

If despite your best efforts, your toddler continues to throw food during meals, it’s important not to lose hope or get discouraged. Remember that children go through different stages of development and some may take longer than others to learn certain behaviors.

In some cases, throwing food could be a sign of an underlying issue such as a sensory processing disorder or behavioral problems. If you have concerns about your toddler’s behavior, it’s best to consult with their pediatrician or seek advice from a child development specialist.

Teaching your toddler table manners, including not throwing food, is an important part of their overall development. It takes patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement to make lasting changes in behavior. By setting clear expectations, modeling good behavior, and making meal times fun, you can help your toddler develop good table manners that will benefit them in the long run. Remember to stay patient and never give up on teaching your little one these important life skills.

1. How do I get my toddler to stop throwing food?
There are a few strategies you can try to help your toddler stop throwing food. These include setting clear rules and expectations, offering small portions of food at a time, and being consistent with consequences when the behavior occurs.

2. Why does my toddler throw food?
Toddlers may throw food for a variety of reasons, such as testing boundaries, seeking attention, or exploring cause and effect. It’s important to understand the underlying reason for the behavior in order to address it effectively.

3. What should I do when my toddler throws food?
When your toddler throws food, it’s important to remain calm and not overreact. Use a firm voice to tell them that throwing food is not acceptable behavior and follow through with consistent consequences if it continues.

4. Can I prevent my toddler from throwing food?
While you can’t always prevent your toddler from throwing food, there are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood of it happening. This includes offering a variety of healthy options, creating a calm mealtime environment, and providing appropriate tools for eating.

5. How can I teach my toddler not to throw food?
Teaching your toddler not to throw food takes patience and consistency. Start by setting clear expectations and using positive reinforcement when they follow the rules. You can also involve them in meal preparation and provide opportunities for them to practice using utensils correctly.

6. What if my toddler only throws food sometimes?
It’s normal for toddlers to go through phases where they may throw food more often as they test their limits and explore their environment. It’s important to remain consistent with consequences during these times and continue teaching proper mealtime behavior.

In conclusion, as parents, it can be frustrating and overwhelming to deal with a toddler who constantly throws food. However, by understanding the reasons behind this behavior and implementing effective strategies, it is possible to get your toddler to stop throwing food.

Firstly, it is important to ensure that your child is provided with a calm and positive mealtime environment. This includes setting consistent rules and boundaries, being patient and empathetic towards your child’s emotions, and avoiding power struggles.

Secondly, offering a variety of food choices and involving your child in meal preparation can make them more interested in eating rather than throwing food. Additionally, providing appropriate serving sizes and using child-friendly utensils can also make mealtime more enjoyable for your toddler.

Furthermore, addressing any underlying sensory or developmental issues can also help reduce food throwing behaviors. Seeking guidance from professionals such as pediatricians or occupational therapists can be beneficial in identifying and addressing these issues.

It is also essential to remember that children at this age are exploring their independence, which may manifest in the form of food throwing. Encouraging positive behaviors through praise and redirecting negative behaviors can help promote self-control and reduce throwing behaviors.

Overall, patience, consistency, and understanding are key in successfully getting your toddler to stop throwing food. With love,

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Lian Chikako Chang
Welcome to Littldata! Our mission is to help parents streamline their family logistics with practical tools and insights. Whether you’re managing school schedules, extracurricular activities, or family outings.

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Hi, I’m Lian Chikako Chang. I’m a data researcher and mom living in San Francisco. At Littldata, my goal is to help parents figure out their family logistics by sharing calendars, maps, lists, and spreadsheets–as well as research-backed blog posts and data graphics.

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