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You know the drill. You’re sitting down to dinner, and your toddler is happily chowing down on a plate of spaghetti when all of sudden he decides that eating from his fingers is much more fun than using utensils. And then there’s the inevitable mess that follows, somehow managing to get sauce on the floor, their shirt, and themselves.

If you feel like this happens every time you feed your little one, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to manage these messy eating habits, so everyone can enjoy their meal.

8 Ways on How to Manage Messy Eating Toddler Habits

Messy eating can be a frustrating habit for parents of toddlers. But it’s important not to give up and try these tips to help manage the mess.

Proper Timing

The first step to managing messy eating habits with your toddler is by preparing their food before they’re in the high chair or at the table. This way, they won’t be sitting and waiting, which may make them antsy during mealtime. You also want to ensure that your child has an appetite when it comes time for a meal, so keep this in mind as well! It’s important not to let things drag on too long because if it takes too much time, then your child will lose interest and might start fussing around instead of enjoying themselves while they eat.

Avoid Cleaning Up During Mealtime

Your child might enjoy throwing their food onto the ground as part of some elaborate joke only known by kids. Or maybe they’re simply not very good at eating neatly! Regardless, don’t give these antics any attention whatsoever. Ensure each scoop is placed directly in front of them and focus on what makes your little one so special.

Identify the Type of Food that Makes the Biggest Mess and Work on It

If there’s a particular food that your child is struggling to eat and, as a result, causing more mess during eating, you should work with them on how they can cleanly enjoy this meal. Determine what their problem might be, such as utensils are too big or scooping up bite sizes so large for their spoon. Then come up with a solution to fix it by either suggesting smaller bites or holding the utensil in different positions to have better control over its movement while guiding it through each mouthful.

A Spoon for Both of You 

Kids are very independent, and they don’t always like it when you try to limit their freedom. So how do we make feeding time more enjoyable for them? If you let your toddler feed themselves with a spoon while still doing the majority of the work, then this might alleviate some frustration that arises from not being able to fully free-feed at mealtime.

Mess-proof Your Toddler’s Dining Area

To make sure your toddler isn’t making a mess during their meal, there are several things you can do. First, they need an area that is comfortable for them and easy to clean up after they finish eating. This means clearing away any clutter from around where they will be seated or having some sort of shielding such as garbage bags beneath where food will fall if it’s dropped on accident (or by design).

Alternatively, you can move their high table to an area where the floor is easier to clean. Carpeted areas might be challenging to clean up.

Invest in Special Products

By putting suction cups at the bottom of your baby’s plate, it will remain stable and won’t be easily knocked over. With so many great reasons to buy bamboo dishes for your baby, what are you waiting for? 

The best bamboo bowls and plates are those that come in a variety of designs available from cool colors or fun patterns with suction cups that hold tight onto even highchair trays. 

The top bamboo bowl brands include;

  1. BambooBamboo
  2. WeeSprout 
  3. Bobo&Boo Plates

Sippy cups are great for toddlers that need assistance holding their own cup or utensil to avoid spills. Bibs with a reservoir also help keep any stray food from getting on other surfaces like chairs when eating by preventing drool or drips from reaching them.

You can buy sippy cups from these reputable brands;

  1. Munchkin Click Lock Bite Proof Sippy Cup
  2. Tommee Tippee Insulated Toddler Straw Sippy Cup
  3. The First Years Take & Toss Spill-Proof Sippy Cups

Serve Your Toddler Neater Food

Thicker foods are less likely to slide off your spoon, which is good for moms who have messy eaters on their hands. Finger food will also work well and can help you manage those messy eating toddler habits!

Remain Calm

It can be frustrating when your little one gets messy while eating, but try not to get angry. Instead of shouting or getting frustrated and cleaning up the mess yourself, just model what you would like him to do: “All done,” or even better yet -“No thank you Mommy.”


Conclusion paragraph: The key to managing messy eating toddler habits is being prepared. Keep a clean bib and washcloth handy in your diaper bag, so you’re never caught off guard by an unplanned meal time or snack for the little one. There’s nothing worse than having a nice outfit ruined because of spilled food! That said, don’t be too harsh on them either. It can take up to 4 years before they develop good table manners. 


Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash


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