My 2 1/2 year old makes a horrible mess at meal time, any tips?

Megan - posted on 11/16/2009 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 2 1/2 and I also have a 13 month old son and they sit in highchairs for meals & snack or else its all over the house and she freaks out cause her brother wont leave her or her food alone. But in the high chair she makes a horrible mess and she is quite old enough to know better, she throws food on the floor and if I make the mistake and keep their chairs to close she'll dump all her food onto her brothers tray.. I am at wits end any help out there?

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Anna - posted on 11/16/2009

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We have a plastic tarp under the high chair to protect the carpet. I think it's natural for kids to want to explore their food so give her a chance to play with her food sometimes eg put her in old clothes and let her have a messy outdoor picnic and let her do what she wants with the food.

If you think she is actually trying to misbehave at mealtimes, ie not just having fun, she is probably trying to get attention so it's best to ignore it as much as possible or it will just encourage her. Or else be consistent with some kind of punishment, eg 2 minutes in time out.

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Sarah - posted on 11/16/2009

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I would get a booster chair for your daughter to sit at the table and the 13 mos old sit in the high chair. Give her a spoon and fork to use and work with her on teaching her how to use them and then encourage her to use them. If she starts throwing things on the floor then give her a time out. In oder for her to come back to the table she must agree that she will not do that again. If she does do it again she gets another time out but is also done eating. The next time she can eat is at the next meal (I don't count snack time as a meal). As you stated she knows better, so what you are trying to do is to start teaching her table manners (chew with mouth closed, use silverware when we eat, say please and thank you, say excuss me when we burp, etc.) I think having her at the table in a booster chair will help (but may not be overnight). The table is where the adults eat, she is now big enough to eat with mom and dad (but also has to follow the rules that are used at the table). This is also important that you and your husband eat at the table. You are the most important people she will model after. Seeing you do it will encourage her to do so also.

Amber - posted on 11/16/2009

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My daughter did this too. When she would throw things I would take her food away. If she decided she was hungry give it back and tell her NO throwing. There were times when she wouldn't eat anything at meal times and found out real quick that if i throw food I don't eat. Eating was much more important to her and she quit.

Cheryl - posted on 11/16/2009

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I would suggest giving her one thing at a time in other words if you have yougurt,fruit,nuggets etc. Just let her work on a 1-2 nuggets n when she is done give her 1 -2 more etc. I work in a preschool for two years and had several children that were extremely messy and for clean up time I had to mop the floors etc I started doing this and it worked out they would eat what they had on their high chair and not wasted by throwing it on the floor but you have to be consistent for about a month or two maybe a third month depending on your child and you'll see results! Good luck girl!

Kyle - posted on 11/16/2009

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Get a dog!! Mine cleans up messes pretty well! LOL just kidding. Have you tried putting her in her chair and telling her we don't throw food and if you can't eat without throwing your food then you will have to wait and try again later. and if she starts throwing her food then take her out of her chair and tell her she can try again when she is ready to eat the right way.

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