Your toddler is growing and asserting independence when he/she can. Choosing what and how much to eat is one of the first things they truly have control over! Due to limited communicative methods at this age, throwing their food on the floor may be how they choose to communicate that they are done or that they do not prefer that food. These three simple tips are intended to reduce the stress of meal time and clean up by replacing the floor with a new safe place for unwanted foods, reducing mess potential, and reducing stress for your toddlers through food presentation.
- Done bowl
Pick a designated plastic bowl to serve as your child’s ‘done bowl’. Place this close to your child’s mealtime plate/tray and allow them the opportunity to determine when they’re done with food by placing it into the ‘done bowl’ rather than throwing it on the floor. Consistency and patience are key for this technique – but it will work! If food gets thrown on the floor, place it back in your child’s reach and ask them to place it in the ‘done bowl’. After you model the action, gentle hand over hand guidance may be required to help the child to place the food into the bowl. This action of placing the food into the ‘done bowl’ also helps your child to be more comfortable interacting with the foods by touching them with their hands and tolerating them in their space.
- Suction plate and bowl
The intent of this is quite self-explanatory (and magical). Stop the entire bowl of puree or plate of spaghetti from hitting the floor by using a toddler suction plate or bowl that will adhere to the counter top/high chair tray.
- Don’t visually overwhelm
Managing the portion size on your child’s plate will not only eliminate the size of the mess that could end up on your floor, but can help prevent a mess on your floor all together. By offering small and manageable serving sizes you will help your child to not be visually overwhelmed by the task at hand. Even a slice of bread is less visually threatening when it is cut into 4 triangles or fun small shapes.
If you have concerns for the limited array of foods your child tolerates or if mealtimes are especially stressful, visit the feeding therapists at Team 4 Kids in Surprise or Peoria to assess if feeding therapy is right for your child.