All babies go through that stage at the end of the first year when they throw everything -- food, cups -- over the side of the high chair. It's more a test of gravity than a test of you.
But at my house, it didn't stop once the scientific principle became obvious. Instead, it became Charlie's favorite signal that he'd had enough -- of the food and the high chair. If I didn't remove the tray promptly after he'd filled his tummy, everything within reach was suddenly airborne. The standard advice, take the food away if he starts throwing it, didn't work because of course he didn't want it anymore.
What to do: "With my kids, I said, 'Okay, you're cleaning it up,'" recalls Christine D'Amico, a San Diego mom of three, ages 7, 5, and 2. "Have your child live with the consequences of his actions. Don't help until he's at least made a good attempt to clean it up -- even though it'll probably lead to lots of crying and whining."
Another idea: Create an incentive. An outing to the park, a game, even a DVD, can motivate your child to stop throwing food, says Stacy DeBroff, mom of two school-age kids and author of The Mom Book. "As they get closer to age three and more verbal, they get savvier about this cause-and-effect idea," she says.