Lots of Baby Mealtimes Subscribers ask how to stop their babies from throwing off the highchair. Here’s a quick summary of the key things you need to know.
Question: How do I stop my baby from throwing food off the highchair?
  • Throwing food is a very common phase for babies.
  • At 6-8 months the throwing is usually related to a lack of skill in holding the food without accidentally dropping it. 
  • After about 9 months throwing food becomes more of a game.  
  • Babies like to see a bit of ‘cause and effect’ in action. They might like watching it fall off the tray or splatter on the floor. This is them being inquisitive and it’s very normal. 
  • If you get into a habit of picking up the food every time they drop it, then you might find your baby thinks you’re playing a game with them. They drop it, you bend down to pick it up. Hilarious!


If this is getting a bit frustrating for you then I’d suggest the following: 
  • Make sure your dog is outside and away from the highchair if you have one!
  • Offer a few foods on the tray at one time. Add more as they need it (and as they throw it). 
  • Ignore all throwing (as hard as this is!!) Try not to laugh or get visibly annoyed. 
  • Wait until your baby has thrown all of their food off the tray before bending down to pick the food up. Re-offer piece by piece as before. 
  • If they throw it all again then pack up the meal as calmly as you can. You can re-offer at the next meal. Use a splat mat under the highchair to reduce your frustration about having to mop the floors. I used a shower curtain which was cheap and big enough to contain the mess. You can fold it up and shake out the crumbs/food after the meal finishes. You can also easily chuck it in the washing machine when it gets too dirty.
  • Teach your baby where you want them to put their food instead of throwing it.


Teaching your baby to pack away:

  • Try having a spare plate which you can offer to your baby as she goes to throw the food. You don’t need to say anything about the throwing, rather say “you can pop that pea on the plate” and show her how you do it. Over time, you can move that plate onto the table, so your baby can return the food from the tray onto the plate.
  • You could also teach your baby to put unwanted food in the cup holder on their highchair tray or on a special coaster.
  • By having a clear pack away routine your baby knows that when they move food off the tray and back onto the table, you’ll trust them that they’re done. This means that they won’t feel the need to throw it to let you know they’re finished. This is helpful when they also start signing or saying “finished”, even when they’ve just got into the chair and haven’t eaten anything yet.
You can watch the videos on Dropping Food and Teaching Your Baby to Pack Away in the video gallery https://babymealtimes.com.au/video-gallery/.