Babies are notorious for their scientific experiments, including learning about gravity and cause and effect. Though some experiments are more socially acceptable than others, (e.g., making funny faces to make you laugh, shaking a toy to make noise), throwing food is definitely not on the top of that list.
When your baby throws food from his or her highchair, he or she is learning:
- Where does it go when I throw it? Will it come back up?
- Wow! I can actually throw that far!
- What sound does it make when it splats on the floor?
- Does it look or taste different after I throw it?
- Mommy likes to play this game with me. Each time I throw it, she picks it up and brings it back to me so that I can throw it again! This is so much fun!
Your reaction will send a clear message that you understand his or her curiosity, and it can be expanded on in acceptable ways of play. Remain calm and tell your baby that throwing food is not acceptable. If the throwing continues, state to your baby that you think they are full and that you will be taking the food away. Give your baby some toys that are acceptable to throw in a safe play area. This takes practice! If you are consistent, your baby will get the message and stop throwing food.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019