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  • Kait Towner, LMHC, RPT, CCPT, IMH-E

Why Do Toddlers Throw Food?

Toddlers. We love them, but their behaviors can get on our nerves. One of the most irritating behaviors can be when they throw food. So why do they do it and what can parents do about it? Today's blog focuses on why behaviorally toddlers throw food in addition to discussing interventions to help curve the behavior.



Why Toddlers Throw Food


There are a variety of reasons why toddlers throw food. Toddlers are still relatively new to our world and learning how things work. Throwing food is a way that toddlers explore cause and effect. Their little brains are thinking “when I put this food in my hand and move it just so, the food flies!”


Toddlers additionally receive increased attention when they throw food. Behaviorally, children are more apt to engage in behaviors that elicit attention, be it positive or negative.


In addition, toddlers don’t have the ability to be in control over many decisions in their lives. Caregivers decide when toddlers get changed, eat, and determine their schedule as well. Throwing food gives toddlers the ability to gain control over a small aspect of their life, which can be as empowering for little ones as it is frustrating for caregivers!


What to do About the Behavior


From a behavioral standpoint, it’s helpful to remove the food that your child is throwing after their first throw. For example, when your toddler throws food, say “no thank you” and take away their plate. Over time, your child will learn that the food will stay for longer when they do not engage in the behavior.


In addition, when they are able to eat and not throw food, praise them extensively! This will encourage your child to engage in behaviors eliciting positive attention (compliments and praise) versus negative attention (throwing food).


Another option that preserves the sanity of caregivers is to purchase a full coverage bib for toddlers to use at mealtimes.


Think your child would benefit from child therapy? Contact me at (585) 206-1506 or kaittownerlmhc@gmail.com to discuss more!

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