Toddler Throwing Food on the Floor – Why and Tips to Stop

4 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Why is my toddler throwing food on the floor

As a parent, you may have experienced the frustration of watching your toddler throw food on the floor during mealtime. It would leave you wondering why is my toddler throwing food on the floor? Let us assure you that it’s a common behavior among young children, but understanding the reasons behind it can help you navigate this phase more effectively.

In this article, we will explore when toddlers start throwing food, the reasons behind this behavior, and provide practical tips for parents to address it.

In This Article

When Do Toddlers Start Throwing Food on The Floor?

When do toddlers start throwing food

Ah, the wondrous stage of toddlerhood, where little ones embark on a journey of self-discovery and independence. It is during this magical time, usually around 12 to 18 months, that you might find yourself witnessing a curious phenomenon: food art on the floor. Yes, dear parents, this is when toddlers start throwing food on the floor, showcasing their developing motor skills and their insatiable thirst for asserting their newfound independence.

As their tiny hands gain dexterity and their once wobbly coordination begins to stabilize, toddlers embrace the joyous exploration of their physical abilities. This newfound mastery over their limbs fuels their desire to experiment with various behaviors, making each day a delightful adventure filled with surprises. And what better canvas for their experimentation than the dinner table?

You see, at this tender age, toddlers are not just voracious eaters; they are scientists, little Einsteins in highchairs. They embark on a journey of discovery, pushing boundaries and engaging in captivating cause-and-effect interactions. That innocent carrot hurtling through the air and landing with a satisfying splat is their grand experiment. They watch with wide-eyed wonder as their action triggers a reaction, delighting in the fascinating world of physics unfolding before their very eyes.

So, fear not, weary parents, for your toddler’s food-throwing escapades are not mere acts of defiance or mischief. They are an integral part of their blossoming development, a vivid testament to their burgeoning motor skills and the irresistible allure of asserting their newfound independence. Embrace this phase as a whimsical chapter in your little one’s growth, and together, navigate the marvelous journey of toddlerhood.

Why Do Toddlers Throw Food on the Floor?

Toddlers throw food for number of reasons

Throwing food is not a whim or fancy for your toddler. There are several reasons why toddlers engage in this behavior-

  • Out of boredom
  • They are finished eating
  • Uninteresting food choices
  • They are tired and eating is too much work for them
  • Learning object permanence by throwing food and checking to see if it’s still there or not
  • Toddler throwing food may be a way to communicate their likes or dislikes
  • Attention seeking behavior
  • Testing boundaries
  • They are afraid of force feeding
  • Toddlers love to do one task repeatedly. It’s called ‘Play Schema’. It helps them to understand what’s going on by doing a task multiple times. Throwing is a part of play schema

Throwing Food Helps Them Explore Cause and Effect

Throwing food is a natural part of a toddler’s development, as it allows them to explore the cause-and-effect relationship. While it can be frustrating for parents, it is essential to recognize that this behavior serves a purpose in their cognitive and physical development. Also, they are fascinated by the action of the food hitting the floor and the sound it makes, providing them with a sense of control and accomplishment.

Top 5 Tips For Parents to Stop Toddlers From Throwing Food

What can parents do to stop toddlers from throwing food

Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate food throwing, there are strategies parents can employ to minimize this behavior-

1. Set Clear Expectations

Communicate with your toddler in simple and concise language, explaining that food is meant to be eaten and not thrown on the floor. Use positive reinforcement and gentle reminders during mealtime.

2. Offer Appropriate Alternatives

Provide your toddler with appropriate tools for exploration, such as building blocks or sensory toys, which allow them to satisfy their need for cause-and-effect play.

3. Encourage Self-Feeding

Promote self-feeding by offering finger foods that your toddler can easily handle. This helps them develop their fine motor skills and provides a sense of independence, reducing the desire to throw food.

4. Serve Small Amounts

Serve smaller amounts of food instead of piling their plate with large servings. The sight of too much food can also be a turn off for your toddler.

5. Don’t Pressurize

Don’t pressurize your toddler to eat. If you try to feed them forcibly, or foods that they don’t like, they will end up protesting by throwing the food. So, next time you are wondering why is my toddler throwing food on the floor, do a reality check once.

While the sight of food flying across the room can be exasperating, understanding the reasons behind a toddler’s food-throwing behavior can help parents address it more effectively. By setting clear expectations, offering alternatives, and promoting self-feeding, parents can navigate this phase while supporting their child’s development. Remember, patience and consistent guidance will go a long way in helping your toddler transition from food-throwing to more acceptable mealtime behaviors.


1. Is Toddler Throwing Food a Milestone?

Yes, throwing food is considered a normal milestone in a toddler’s development. It signifies their growing independence and exploration of cause and effect.

2. How Long Does the Food Throwing Phase Typically Last in Toddlers?

The food throwing phase varies from child to child, but it often diminishes as their communication and self-feeding skills improve. By the age of 2 or 3, most children have outgrown this behavior.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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