Food Overboard!

Dear Mamas,

My 1-year-old daughter has gotten into an annoying habit that I’d like to break. When she’s seated in her high chair eating a meal she suddenly starts to throw food overboard by the fistful. She’ll take a handful of my lovingly prepared, bite-sized pieces and laugh as she tosses them to the floor. Our two dogs then run over and happily gobble it all up, which pleases her no end.

This new game is making me NUTS. How do I put an end to it without crushing her little spirit?

Losing Patience

Dear Patience,

You’ve got a little firecracker there, don’t you?! This is a girl who will always take charge. You’ve gotta love that, but I get that it can be frustrating at times.

I need a bit of background … does she throw food over immediately at the start of the meal, or is it later after she’s had her fill? Do you tend to put all the food in front of her at once, or do you dole it out bit by bit?

My suggestion is this: Put her in the high chair when you know she’s hungry for her meal. Then start with just a few bite sized pieces of food at a time. When she’s finished with those, give her a few more. When you notice she’s slowing down, dole out what you’re giving her one piece at a time. Hopefully, when she’s lost interest in actually eating it, and is ready to have fun by throwing it over, her tray is nearly empty.

IF she’s throwing it right from the beginning you’ll have to give this girly some tough love. Put 1 piece of whatever on the tray. If she throws it over take her out of the high chair. Don’t try again for at least 15 – 30 minutes. If she does it again, take her out again. Eventually she’ll be hungry and more interested in eating than playing.

But the dogs are going to lose out big-time.

Good luck!

~ The Mamas

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Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


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2 responses to “Food Overboard!”

  1. Michelle

    Great advice. My 1 year old son does the same thing (he throws his food at the end of the meal ;) I’ll take your advice, thanks.

  2. Paige

    Well, it looks like I have the firecracker that needs a little tough love. Thank you for your advice and I will try it right away.

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