I realize that most toddlers like to throw their food on to the floor, but Baby-Ko is definitely testing his limits in this department these days. I’ve started to sit him at the table, on a booster seat, without the tray. I place his food on an (overpriced, but darling and alphabet laden) place mat, in hopes that my royal highness will enjoy his cut up (overpriced, but nitrate free) chicken nuggets without picking up his (overpriced, but supposedly ergonomic or some shit) fork and chucking it across the room for no real good reason. 

Unfortunately though, there seems to be nothing I can say or do lately to stop him from throwing said fork and the entire place mat with food on all over the floor. I’ve begged, pleaded, tried to reason, tried to distract, sung, danced, and even bribed. Doesn’t matter: Without fail, meal time has turned in to a food fight. Literally.
But yesterday, it occurred to me that there might be one thing that will teach him a lesson: The Monster. The VACUUM Monster. Baby-Ko has neeeeeeeever liked the sound (or even sight for that matter) of the Vacuum. In fact, I rarely vacuum in his presence (oh, who am I kidding. I rarely vacuum AT ALL), just because it freaks him out so much and I feel bad. But last night, mean mommy surfaced and I decided to play hardball. After chucking his chopped spinach (which BTW, ain’t so easy to just pick up off of carpet), and mac and cheese across the room, I said “that’s it! Now mommy has to vacuum!” So I went and got the vacuum, and while Baby-Ko sat in his chair, I vacuumed everything around him. He did cry a little bit and said “no mo vack-oom,” but he eventually calmed down. I put it away and looked him in the eye and said, “When you throw food, Mommy has to vacuum. Okay? No more throwing food.” I kissed him on the head and put out strawberries. Without missing a beat he held one up and said, “Mo vack-oom. NOOO!” and stuffed it in his mouth. Friggin‘ genius. Mom-Mission Accomplished!
But alas, my hopes and dreams of being the smartest (but still dirtiest, of course) mommy on the block was thwarted, when breakfast time became battle time today. What started off as a calm and very un-messy meal, turned in to scrambled egg and melon hurricane. Before the storm hit, I praised Baby-Ko for keeping his food on his place mat and eating it like such a big boy (adding and naming every one of his friends that also eat like big boys).  But minutes later, toddler-ness kicked in and “eggies” went flying. 
“That’s it!” I said not effing around. “I have to vacuum. We do not throw food. When Baby-Ko throws food, Mommy has to vacuum.”  
“No!!” He cried as I got out the Monster. “Mommy no!”
But I did it. I got out the vacuum despite how scared he actually looked.  Suddenly I felt AWFUL.  Who am I, Joan Crawford???!?!  He clearly hates the vacuum. (It does make a really screechy kind of awful sound that bothers me too actually). I mean, I know this is just a phase – the throwing food everywhere – so should I be letting it go? Should I give up on trying to have a clean carpet? Is he too young to be taught a lesson? Is my vacuum method cruel and unusual punishment??? 
PLEASE parents, advise. Tell me what YOU do with your toddlers when they throw food, and clearly know they’re not supposed to.
Oh, and PS….  If you have suggestions on how to teach your kid not to eat markers, feel free to throw that in too….

FILED UNDER: A Little Life

Leave a Comment


  1. Friday, June 5th, 2009
    honestly, I think it is a good idea - the hard part is staying consistent while feeling like a monster. But be grateful you have something that actually works as a deterrent. With my son I usually have to go to just giving him one bite at a time to pick up and eat so he doesn't have anough ammunition to throw around. And when he really refuses to stop I have no choice but to just take away his food. Which makes me feel not only like the mean mommy, but also gives me guilt about starving my kid even though I know once he's calmed down I'll give it back. I vote you keep up with the vacuum - if he hates it that much he should stop throwing food in no time. Or he will learn to love the vacuum.
  2. Friday, June 5th, 2009
    I don't think the "vacuum method" is cruel - it teaches him that there's a consequence, one he doesn't like, when he throws food. I know how hard it can be, though, so I sympathize.

    If you feel too bad about it, though, remember this: in the grand scheme of things, this phase is pretty short-lived. Whether you use the vacuum or not, I guarantee that he won't still be throwing food when you send him off to kindergarten - or even at this time next year. :)
  3. Saturday, June 6th, 2009
    um, if he's truly scared...I'm gonna go with don't do it. Truthfully, we kept our son in a high chair in the kitchen until he was close to 2. Also, when he started to throw food we took that as a sign that he was done eating and getting bored/antsy so we'd just say, "oh you must be all done!" and then we took his food away. BUT, we told him it was his job to clean up any food he threw. So, once the meal was done, I'd get him down and make him pick up the food and put it in my hand. If he refused to pick it up I would literally take his hand in mine and have him pick it up. I only had to do this a few times and he figured out it wasn't that fun.
  4. Anonymous
    Sunday, June 7th, 2009
    Hi J-ko!, miss you and hope you guys are doing well....Seriously, I say: Stone if you throw one more, I am taking away your food, so he throws one more and that's exactly what I do, take away his tray! He will learn I'm sure! Love your blogs! xo
  5. Monday, June 8th, 2009
    Let mean mommy rule. There are consequences to actions, and baby is learning them. They MUST test this to see if there will be the same result each time. Give it a week, no more food throwing.
  6. Monday, June 8th, 2009
    Mean mommy rules! Baby has to learn there are consequences to actions. He has to see the same result several times to really get it. Give it a week, no more food throwing!h
  7. Thursday, June 11th, 2009
    Yikes, these responses scare me. To him, the vacuum is punishment-it scares him, not consequence. If he is truly scared, the all you are doing with the vacuum is traumatizing him. Kids need positive reinforcement. I have 3 kids (age 3, 12, 15). I know we all lose it sometimes, but, personally I would just take the food away when he throws it. Chances are, as another commenter stated, that he's done eating at that point. Remove the food, remove the problem. If he still seems hungry give him back one piece at a time. It is a phase and it will likely pass sooner if you pay it less attention to it. He knows he gets a reaction to you when he throws food-show him ways to get a positive reaction from you.