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How to Teach Your Baby to Stop Throwing Food on the Floor

by Amanda on June 11, 2008
category: 0 – 1 year (baby)

My 12 month old daughter started throwing her food on to the floor when she was done eating. We don’t even have a dog for her to watch eat the food. It made our kitchen floor a mess. I had no idea how to stop her from throwing food on the the floor so I asked McKenna, one of the authors here at The Mom Crowd. She told me that Ace was throwing her food on the floor when she was done, because she had no other form of communication with me.

McKenna said that I needed to do 3 things:

  1. Teach her to put her food in a special place on her tray when she is done.
  2. Tell her “No, we don’t throw food on the floor” and pick it up.
  3. Teach her how to sign “all done.”

I had never done any sign language before only because I wasn’t sure if I really needed to teach it to her and I was being lazy. Hopefully, if I gave her a way to communicate with me, then she wouldn’t throw her food.

breadtray.jpg After about a week of being diligent and saying “no,” teaching her to put her food in the cup holder of the tray, and signing “all done” my daughter did it! She signs “all done” when I ask “Are you done?” I immediately pull Ace out of her seat when she signs it. An added bonus of signing “all done” is that she looks adorable when she signs it.

She has also learned where to put her food when she doesn’t want it anymore. She very rarely throws food on the floor now. It still happens occasionally but it isn’t every single meal.

I love that I am able to communicate with my baby who isn’t saying many words. I wasn’t a huge believer of signing until just recently. I went back to McKenna and asked her to show me some more signs. We are working on signing bread now. Ace will get it.

McKenna’s wrote a post on signing called, “Ready, Set, Sign” if you are interested in reading more about baby sign language.

Did you have a problem with your little one throwing food on the floor? How did you handle it?

7 Responses to How to Teach Your Baby to Stop Throwing Food on the Floor

  • Gravatar
    Comment by amelia
    June 11, 2008 @ 7:37 am

    I’m a huge fan of signing. We are starting to use some with Graham now that he is 9 months old. He hasn’t started using them yet but he will. Ewan did a bunch of signs and it was awesome to communicate with him!

    We start off with “more” and “all done”. Those seem to be the most practical in the beginning.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Julie
    June 11, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

    OMG another awesome post! Aly is 19 months old and I’ve been having this problem since she started eating table foods. Oh man, it’s been driving us nuts! I just showed your suggestions to my husband and we are definitely going to start using them. She can actually already indicate when she is “all done” but she starts throwing food early in the meal so I’m not sure why. Thanks for the tips!

  • Comment by Amanda
    June 11, 2008 @ 11:05 pm

    @Amelia – It IS fun to be able to communicate. I am addicted to signing now.

    @Julie – I am so glad that the suggestions may be able to help you! It took a lot of work to get Ace to start putting her food away, instead of on the floor. Anytime she put it there I would cheer and then take it away. Sometimes Ace signs all done when she is finished with that course of the meal. I think the saying “No, we don’t throw food on the floor” in a stern voice helped too. You can do it! You have to be consistent at every meal time, but she will get it!

  • Gravatar July 15, 2008 @ 11:10 pm

    [...] found a post about teaching kids to not throw food. The website is a little loud color-wise, but I’ll try the suggestion and see what happens. [...]

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Elli
    August 14, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

    My 15 month old has been throwing his food on the floor for a few months now, he knows how to say all done but he sometimes throws it when he has only eaten two or three bites. Not sure what else I can do? Any ideas?

  • Comment by Dawn
    August 14, 2008 @ 1:48 pm


    My 13-month old son does that occasionally, too. I think he either wants to play the “if I drop it, Mommy will pick it up!” game, or he’s just being plain ornery. I know if he had more words, he’d be clear about his intentions. :) My tendency is to ignore the food on the floor, wait a minute or so, and offer him a new bite. I try not to make much of a fuss about it. I might be naive, but it seems that when he can’t elicit a reaction from me, he stops dropping the food and starts eating again. Distractions are good too. I’ll say something in a funny voice to catch him off-guard, or talk to his older sister for a minute. Sometimes I’ll dance in my chair. (Makes me glad I don’t have a camera in my kitchen catching all the shenanigans. :) )

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Elli
    August 22, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

    Thanks Dawn, I will give that a try. I must admit I ignored him when he started biting furniture and he stopped doing that after a few days so maybe this might work too.

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