Playing With Food
During the early months of self-feeding, many children will make a mess of their highchair and of themselves. If they mix their food with their hand, children should not be criticized or punished. This is a normal part of learning how to feed themselves.
But when it comes to throwing food, you can draw the line. Have a rule that: "We don't throw food, drop food on the floor, or put it on our body." Also, go over the acceptable behavior with your child: "What I want you to do is to keep your food on your tray or in your mouth."
When your child throws food, give him a consequence. Take him out of his highchair, and put him in time-out in a playpen for 2 minutes. Then let him return to the table. If he throws food again, assume he's had enough to eat and put him down for keeps. He'll get the idea.
To deal with some of the normal sloppiness of young eaters, put down some newspapers and offer small portions at a time. Praise your child when he eats without making a mess. Some people also think a dog comes in handy.
If you have other questions about your child's eating behavior, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.