Getting My Child To Stop Throwing Food- A Winning Method

Getting my child to stop throwing his food was consuming my life. I’m going to start this off by taking zero credit here for ANY good eating habits my son has picked up lately. I’d basically given up due to a busy family period, and he was living off his diet staple- fried rice, pureed apple and Sustagen for Kids (a meal replacement drink). I hadn’t offered or exposed him to new foods in months. I left that up to daycare, where his meals are fully catered. I was busy desperately trying to have him eat the old favourites he USED to like!

But I will tell you a quick background story.

Have you heard of Homestay? It’s when you offer room, board and a cultural experience to an international traveler. Over the years, I have had a total of 14 au pairs and Homestays, all bringing their own dynamic and experience to our household.  I highly recommend it to ANY busy parent with a spare room and active children, and suggest this homestay site to use.

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful au pair called Nicola come and stay for a few weeks, who is a special needs teacher in the UK. She works with children with severe disabilities and medical issues and when I told her of Parker’s ‘behavioural problems’, she laughed delightedly (somehow in a British accent). I couldn’t place that laugh- until I remembered that time I sat the kids down to watch Mary Poppins.

In her three short weeks, she had my son wrapped around her little finger. She cemented Parker’s love of books. She also had him packing away ALL his toys, responding when called, and performing other delightful toddler tricks for her at the raise of an eyebrow.

Now let’s discuss what we came here for- cutting out the food throwing. It all came to a head when I prepared my child six (yes, 6) separate things to eat and he tossed each over his shoulder with a delight, a grunt, and deep satisfaction normally reserved for a javelin thrower at the Olympics.

So Nicola asked me to create this.



To make your own ‘Finished Basket’:

I used a basket from Woolworths which originally came prepackaged with fruit inside.

I created the design in his favourite colours on the design website Canva, which is exceedingly user friendly, quicker than doing it using a computer program, and took around 1 or 2 minutes. I use it for all my signs around the house.

Then I stuck it on with Clag glue I stole from my daughter’s pencilcase. However next time round I will blu-tack it on so it’s removable for washing, and so I can stick it on a new basket without having to print off a new sign.
Parker has NO CHOICE over whether to use it. If he throws food, he is handed back the food and gets lots of praise when he places it in the basket. It took around two weeks for the throwing to stop completely.

He is given the choice over what he puts in his mouth, and that is about it.  If he doesn’t eat what he is offered, that is ok, but the ‘Finished Basket’ stays on the table with him until he is allowed down from the high chair.


I choose how long he stays in his high chair or at the table, what he is served, and what entertainment he gets while in it. This is generally his Gemiini speech therapy videos, or the interminable Wiggles.


He chooses when he is ‘finished’ by placing unwanted food in the basket. I often find peas in there, entire meals, and even his hand creeping back in to sample discarded snacks from 30 seconds earlier.
And best of all- I no longer find food on the floor! Success!!



Nicola with Parker

What are your mealtime tips for difficult eaters? Leave a comment below!
Sarah - July 11, 2015

That is GENIUS! We don’t have an issue so much with food throwing (mine are a little older) but with throwing toys they are bored of. A ‘finished’ basket would at least mean they put them in one place!

    Kat Abianac - July 11, 2015

    Yes, I can see how you could definitely adapt it with a bigger basket! It’s a progressive step towards ‘cleaning up toys and putting away’- getting them to do the ‘cleaning up’ part!

Erin H - July 11, 2015

I cannot wait to try this. I love reading your blog. You have an amazing way with words. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Kat Abianac - July 11, 2015

    Thanks very much! I promise I shall try 🙂

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