Toddlers Love Food Fights
When every other dinner time becomes a food fight a mom may feel like pulling her hair out. I know, I have been there too many times. A toddler throwing food can be a very frustrating and messy phase. Our sweet little toddlers lack the understanding and impulse control that is needed for a clean and relaxing dinner time.
Communicating is Difficult
Having a toddler is like trying to herd an unpredictable tornado. We follow the same routine each night to sit down at the dinner table and that is where the predictability ends. Sometimes my daughter eats like a well-mannered little girl and other times she pretends like she is going to eat her food then throws her peas at the cat.
One of the toughest parts about raising a toddler is that they are just beginning to develop their communication skills. So, it is often extremely difficult to identify why your toddler is throwing their food. It could be that a child in their daycare class throws food so your child now thinks that is a good idea. It could be that your child is not hungry at all or that your child does not like whats for dinner. All three could be the reason or a million other reasons that float through your their mind.
Rotate your Strategies
Since the reasons behind you’re toddler throwing food can be constantly changing and often unknown, we rotate through a variety of strategies to help avoid the mess. To be completely honest some nights these work and some nights they don’t but here are a few ideas to add to your rotation.
Remove the Distractions
The most important strategy that we have found is removing the distractions that you know are going to catch your toddler’s attention. As mentioned, a particular favorite game of my daughter’s is throwing her veggies at the cat. The cat only encourages the game by doing flips in the air and chasing after every stray tidbit. We now put our dogs and cat away during dinnertime to avoid the temptation. Maybe when our communication skills get a little better we will reintroduce the pets to family dinnertime.
Limit the Amount of Food
Another helpful tip is to limit the amount of food that you are putting on your toddler’s plate. It can be very overwhelming if you set a large plate of food in front of them. Then, before you know it the temptation to throw food enters their mind and we all know how well toddlers avoid temptation. The additional benefit to you here is that if your child does throw the food then there is a lot less to throw. Of course, if my daughter does eat the food I always give her a little more.
Try Allowing Them to Stand
As any Momma knows, sometimes your toddler just has a few ants in their pants. If it seems to be one of those particular days you may try letting your child eat standing up. To do this we allow our daughter to eat at a small kids table or at the coffee table in the living room. This isn’t an everyday solution and we don’t let our daughter walk around with her food, but it can be a nice change for them.
Hide the Food They Don’t Like in the Food They Do Like
You may suspect that your toddler is throwing the food that they do not like. They don’t care if those veggies are good for them! All they know is that they are yucky! We have found success in hiding foods my daughter doesn’t enjoy in the food that she loves. For example, maybe try hiding shredded carrots in the mac and cheese. The cheese covers the carrots and WA LA your toddler never knows.
Don’t Give In
Above all else we all need to stay strong and not give in. Toddlers are incredibly smart and pick up on all the tricks faster than we would like them to. If your toddler refuses to eat veggies and so you give in and give them more fruit (or whatever they do like), I can guarantee that they will throw their food again next time. If your toddler throws peas at the cat and you laugh (I’m guilty of this one the first time), I guarantee that they will throw food next time for attention. Stay strong!
Best of Luck to Us All!
Hopefully this gives you a few ideas to try to avoid your cute little one’s impromptu food fights. Every day is different and toddlers are constantly evolving so you will need to use a variety of tricks to help. With a little luck and a lot of patience we will all make it through the food throwing stage.