Throwing food and utensils

Oh, we're done with all that vegetable-steaming and mess, our children are cutlery-wielding, spaghetti-chomping angels... at least some of the time.

Throwing food and utensils

Postby RegansMom » 24 Apr 2012, 09:35

This came up on the New to BLW board. I hope it's okay -- I'd like to post it here as well in case someone with more experience can answer it.

My 1 yo throws all unwanted bits of food and utensils aside, usually onto the floor. We haven't made a big deal about it. I don't think she's doing it to get a rise or be naughty. Her thought process seems to be "I'm done with this; get it out of my sight."

Will this go away naturally on its own (when she sees that no one else at the table is throwing anything on the floor), or do I need to intervene? I really don't want this to turn into a habit that's difficult to eradicate later on.

Spoons and forks are the most tricky, because I end up running out of silverware. I've tried holding onto the spoon/fork with her, but it feels like it's going against the whole BLW. I like her to feel like she's in full control of her food, but then after almost every bite, we lose the utensil (I'm not quick enough to catch it).

Any words of wisdom?

Thank you!
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby issi » 24 Apr 2012, 21:54

Can you suggest somewhere else to put unwanted bits? Snarfy has a tablemat with animals on and all unwanted food goes on the crocodiles! Not sure if she's get it at her age - I can't remember.
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby Violet_Cue » 25 Apr 2012, 00:28

We ignore it (when he seems to be looking for some reaction... like his cup makes a great crash...) then pick it up a few minutes later.

We limit how much he has (as sometimes it is just being overwhelmed by what is on his plate.)

He does know he shouldn't... DH makes a big deal at times... so then he will hold food out to the side and shake his head no... we then praise "that's right! We don't throw food on the floor" We also offer our hand and ask for it if he doesn't want it.

His cm has dogs, so I think he spends a lot of time feeding them... our cats are less interested (but it seems to be an experiment.)

He doesn't throw things away if he actually wants them (unless there is too much on his plate.) Cutlery is different, and usually once it is gone it is gone...or if it is for loaded spoons I have three or so going, and pick up from the floor when it wouldn't be reinforcing baby drops, mom fetches.)

Basically i try to reinforce what is positive behavior, and ignore (and therefore not reinforce) what we don't want in the long run. No long term tales of how this will turn out...
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby RegansMom » 25 Apr 2012, 01:23

Thank you for the suggestions!

I've tried encouraging her to hand me the spoon or food she doesn't want, but the concept of putting it somewhere versus flinging it seems lost on her. I'll keep trying, though. I love the crocodile idea, although I haven't even thought of using a mat. Goodness knows where she'd fling that. We're still eating directly off the high-chair tray.

And, I'll definitely praise the good behavior once there is some to praise.

Thank you again!
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby TeakettleSlim » 22 May 2012, 13:54

My 28-month-old has just started in big with the food/utensil throwing in the last couple of months. We have a policy of not returning dropped things to her right away so she knows she won't get them back. Not sure if it's helped. If she really does need it back, I ask her to go pick it up. She usually does and doesn't seem to mind, so it's not much of a deterrant. :) She does the rip-the-bib-off-and-drop-it thing, too, and I try to catch that BEFORE it goes on the floor and tell her to give it to me when she's all done. That one does seem to be improving.

The REALLY annoying thing she's started recently is that she will ask for food or water, then deliberately dump it on the floor as soon as I give it to her. NO rhyme or reason to it as far as I can tell. Infuriating when it's something like sliced strawberries. I try to get her to help clean it up when she does that-- get a towel, guide her hands to help me wipe it up. A bit coercive, but I do it gently-- I want her to understand what the consequences of spilling are. Not sure that's worked, either, as the other night she poured her water on the floor then immediately requested a towel to clean it. I guess it's a step in the right direction, but *sigh*.
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby CPinho » 23 May 2012, 00:41

Ou 14mo old does the same things, mainly when she is done eating, but we have sort of given up trying to tell her "no"; anyway usually I explain to her why she shouldn't do that (more work for mom and dad, messy floor, etc.)- she is still too young to understand, but I am hoping one day she will get it.... and even then, she will probably still do it :)

Dad and I now have our routines - after dinner one cleans up the baby, the other cleans up the floor :)
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby manderson » 03 Oct 2012, 00:16

Praising the good behavior has definitely helped with my 14 month old. I encourage him to take the loaded fork or spoon, use it and then return it to me. I encourage him through words and sign language. When he does return it, I get very excited and praise him (sometimes I even clap). He looks thrilled when this happens. I know praise can be a tricky tool, but I prefer this to only using punishment or ignoring all behavior and not expecting anything much of him. I've learned that when I set expectations that are realistic and clear he is capable of living up to them.

He signs "more" when he wants to eat more- I'm hoping that will help keep him in control of how much he wants to eat and at what pace, even though I'm loading the utensils for him. I'm not sure when he'll be ready to load them himself. Attempts to do so thus far have made me think "not yet" but I know he needs experience in order to learn...any thoughts on timing for this and method of teaching?

Also, when he drops his cup or utensil, I've been not returning it. Is this a no-no in BLW? It feels like it might be. In the case of the utensil, whatever food it was conveying becomes an option that is now "off the table." I'm not sure if that's too punitive or not. I've got mixed feelings about it. I wouldn't have done this when we started out with BLW, but he's had 8 months to experiment with food without much expectation for manners etc. He is still nursing. I know that he's getting enough nutrition. I'm not removing all food, just the one that went with the fork that was dropped. In the last week, when this has happened, I know that the food that went with the fork was something he did want. He got very excited when he saw the spinach loaf, as he has always done, and ate it happily...and then the fork was dropped after one bite...he appeared to be disappointed when the spinach loaf went away.

I do believe that with young ones actions speak much louder than words. He needs to see some effect to whatever action he's taken if he's to understand what my expectations are. A lecture is not going to cut it! ;)

It appears to me that in his case flinging or dropping food purposefully is his way of saying "all done," but I'm not always sure about the utensil dropping. It doesn't always seem like he's really done eating when he does this. Thoughts? I wish he'd sign "all done" to me. We've been using that sign since he was around 6 months old, but I'm not sure the concept makes sense to him and his signing back is pretty limited right now.
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Re: Throwing food and utensils

Postby RegansMom » 03 Oct 2012, 00:42

Hi manderson!

I'm the one who originally asked the question. My dd is now 17 months old, and I've experimented with a few things over the past 5 months. At first, I just ignored any food dropping. Whatever went on the floor stayed there, but I didn't take the food away, I didn't end the meal, I didn't say anything. For example, if she flung a carrot on the floor, the flung carrot was left there and permanently "gone," but I didn't remove all the carrots from her plate and I didn't even tell her she shouldn't do it. I took this approach simply because I, too, could never tell if the flinging was intentional or due to lack of coordination. I also hoped she'd just outgrow the flinging.

Well, she hasn't. Although, now she's older, I'm more able to tell what's an "I'm done" or "I'm playing" fling versus a mistake. And, when the playing starts in earnest (i.e., more food is being thrown or experimented with than is going in her mouth), I take the tray off the high chair and away entirely. I've found she'll lean forward or point to something if she really still wants to eat, which is rare. I've also started telling her "no" when it looks like she's about to throw something on purpose and tell her what to do with it instead -- either hand it to me (in the case of a plate or cup or utensil), or put it on the plate/in the bowl (in the case of food). Sometimes she does, sometimes she flings it anyway, in which case, I give her no reaction at all (I kind of shut down).

It is definitely not an exact science. I'm not sure I get it right all the time, but like you I'm still nursing, so I figure what's missed will be made up for later.

So, in answer to your questions, I would continue doing what you're doing, although if he's really excited about a food, like the spinach loaf (which sounds awesome by the way, so if you'd like to share the recipe, I'd love to see it), perhaps give him the benefit of the doubt and don't take it away until he repeatedly throws pieces on the floor.

I personally don't see how not returning a cup or utensil goes against BLW, just simply because it's dirty. But perhaps someone else more experienced could chime in.

As for loading the utensils, he'll do it when he's ready. I would hand him an empty spoon occasionally with a bowl of something in front of him and see if he shows interest or does anything remotely close to loading it, like moving it toward the food. I've also found that by letting my daughter figure out how to do stuff by herself, like loading the spoon, she seems to learn much faster and be more efficient with it than if I show her how. It's almost like her own way works better for her than my way of doing it. It's incredibly messy at first and I can remember thinking "that's not going to work," but after a few tries she was scooping like a pro, so I think it pays off in the end (or so I try to tell myself).

I think the most important thing to remember is "this too shall pass." One way or another all children end up sitting at the table and feeding themselves in a civilized manner, so there's nothing really that you can do terribly wrong. I think letting the child decide what he or she eats is the most important step. Everything else will fall into place somehow. It may not be tomorrow, but it will at some point. You just have to go with your gut and enjoy the ride. (Sorry for the cliche.)
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