Picky Eaters and Food Throwers
Babies and toddlers throwing food off their high chair. I get this question a lot. What do I do?? First, THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL. Second, yes it might be a game for your reaction, yes it might be because their done… it also could just be them being really up high and seeing what happens when their food hits the ground, wall or dogs.
If they are done… teach the sign all done. Take their plate and say "are you all done? Say all done" and model the sign with them.
If they are doing it for a game/attention/reaction… play a game with them and their food going in their mouth. Play with orange slices, play with pees, get them comfortable with food and making eating it way more fun than throwing it. And when they do throw it -- give no attention to it (and they can help clean up after).
If they are just curious… I would honestly let it be. My maelie drops food every single meal (mostly for the dogs). But she does it at restaurants, she does it at home, she does it at grandmas. It's annoying, but to me it's not "bad behavior" -- it just is. I can prevent by giving her small amounts at a time, using a splat mat under her, eating outside when we can, putting the dogs outside while she eats. But I just know clean up is inevitable and eventually she will stop.
Picky eaters? I was NOT a picky eater. But I do have one now. Here are some tips from a dietician!
-- get in a consistent routine: if they don't eat, that's fine. They know the next meal is coming in 2-3 hours. Have 3 meals and 3 snacks everyday, and they will eat what they need.
-- offer food & offer variety
-- cook with them & let them choose dinner ideas when meal planning
-- cut it differently (shapes, sizes) & cook it differently (raw, baked, steamed)
-- play with your food! (you heard me)
-- eat together
Never Use Food as a Reward or Punishment
The other day I was observing in a classroom during snack time. One of the children was putting up his feet on the table. The teacher said, "put your feet on the floor." He lowered them, then repeated. The teacher said, "If you put your feet on the table, you are done with snack." Lowered & repeated. So the teacher took away the snack.
The follow through was amazing. She said if you do x, y will happen. Did x, implemented y. It's not about the pattern, it's about the consequence she chose. NEVER EVER EVER EVER, take away food as a punishment or give food as a reward (very common). But ESPECIALLY as a teacher. It's actually against licensing. Good behavior doesn't = more food. Bad behavior doesn't = less food.
Rewarding with food for good behavior can actually be harmful. No one is perfect, this isn't meant to shame you. I just want to caution you and explain why.
RESEARCH over several decades tells us it's messes with our brain and teaches us to use food as a way to cope with unpleasant emotions (aka emotional eating). We think wow, I did so good on that college exam, I'm gonna go eat a tub of ice cream (GUILTY).