As your baby gets older, they become more curious about the world around them and start throwing their toys and even their bottles. But most importantly, why do babies throw their bottles? There are several reasons for this happening – read on to find out what they are PLUS some prevention tips I used when my daughter went through this stage.
Babies throw objects such as bottles as a way of communicating their emotions or understanding cause and effect. A baby throws their bottle because they’re not hungry, want attention, or find it funny! They begin to do it as they start to explore the concept of object permanence.
- Emotions such as frustration, excitement, or boredom could be the reason your baby throws their bottles.
- Babies throw bottles to get attention or because they find it funny or as a form of communication.
- Throwing objects helps your baby to explore the concept of cause and effect.
- Not reacting, telling your baby that throwing a bottle isn’t acceptable behavior, or letting them play with cause-and-effect toys teaches them what objects can be thrown.
Why does my baby throw bottles?
Here’s a great demonstration of a baby throwing bottles on the floor:
There are several reasons for it to happen.
1. Your baby is excited
Growing babies are dealing with several emotions such as frustration, boredom, and excitement. If your baby suddenly gets excited while drinking from their bottle or sippy cup they display reactions such as throwing objects. In this case, it could be the bottle but you’ll see them do it with toys or food, depending on what’s closest to them at the time of excitement.
2. The baby is frustrated
Frustration is another emotion that could trigger strong reactions from your baby. During feeding time, your baby could experience the following frustrations:
- Fast or slow milk flow rate from the bottle
- Battling to get a proper latch on the teat
- A dislike for the taste or texture of the infant formula
- Hunger after finishing a bottle
If your baby cries and squirms when bottle feeding, this could be a warning that they’re frustrated. The result could be them throwing their bottle onto the floor!
3. Your baby finds it funny
Older babies start to find things funny, especially if they get a response from a parent, sibling, or caregiver while throwing objects. The more you laugh when they throw their bottle, the more your baby will do it for the fun of it.
4. Your baby might be bored
If your baby is bored with feeding, they may throw their bottle away. This could happen because they’re no longer hungry, want to experiment with solids, or are simply bored with holding the bottle! Babies from 9 to 12 months can start to lose interest in their bottles particularly if they’ve been introduced to the sippy cup or solids.
5. Desire for attention
Babies and toddlers are natural attention seekers who love tossing things, including their bottles – it is a natural way for them to learn about their surroundings. They’re trying to catch your attention especially if they’re seeking nurturing or cuddles from mom or dad.
6. Babies are learning about cause and effect
Exploring cause and effect is a new and essential skill for developing babies. From six to nine months old, babies begin to understand cause and effect, associating an action with a response. Throwing objects such as bottles, toys, or food often gets a reaction from parents or siblings and babies love the attention!
7. Babies want to communicate that they’re finished with the feeding
One of the simplest reasons for your baby throwing their bottle is that they’re finished with feeding and want to get on with doing something else. Throwing objects is another way of communicating with their parents and tossing the bottle could mean they’re no longer hungry.
At what age do babies start throwing things?
From the age of around 12 months old, babies start to throw things to the floor. From early toddlerhood, they begin to understand the concept of object permanence – that is that an object still exists even when not in sight.
This is an important developmental milestone in your older baby and an essential component for:
- Language and memory development
- Pretend play (think peekaboo here!)
When choosing glass or plastic baby bottles for your toddler, consider that they may start throwing their bottle around at this stage!
Is it normal for babies to throw their bottles and other objects?
It’s normal for babies to throw their bottles and other objects when they become a toddler. They’re experimenting with cause and effect, understanding object permanence, and dealing with a range of emotions that need to be communicated.
How do you stop a baby from throwing the bottle?
While your baby needs to throw objects as part of their developmental process, throwing bottles shouldn’t be encouraged. You can stop them from doing this by:
- Using appropriate words: By saying, “We don’t throw bottles because they’ll break” reminds your baby that this behavior isn’t acceptable.
- Not reacting: Refraining from laughing or giving them cuddles or hugs shows your little one that throwing the bottle isn’t the right way to communicate their need for attention.
- Teaching them what is acceptable: Showing your baby what can be thrown such as a ball teaches your little one not to throw their bottle.
- Understanding their emotions: Being aware of your baby’s frustration, excitement, or boredom and teaching them to communicate through other methods prevents them from throwing the bottle.
As difficult as it can be at times and believe me, I’ve been there as a parent, staying calm is vital to avoid both you and your baby getting overly emotional. While teaching your little one alternative ways to throw their bottle, you’ll need to remain firm but gentle as they learn to deal with another milestone.
I read up a lot about the need of setting boundaries for children – here is one resource I recommend.
Will playing cause-and-effect games help?
Playing cause-and-effect games can help your toddler to distinguish between what objects can be thrown and which ones shouldn’t be. Letting them experiment with cause and effect with appropriate toys and activities fulfills their need to learn an essential skill without having to throw the bottle for the same reasons.
Cause-and-effect games help your baby to develop fine motor skills and critical thinking while encouraging them to manage their emotions in a more constructive manner. These games will also satisfy their need for curiosity!
Watch this video which demonstrates different cause-and-effect activities for babies.
Throwing objects is part and parcel of being a toddler but it doesn’t mean you should encourage them when they throw their bottles! Identifying why your baby is throwing their bottle will help you to find the best solution to prevent it from happening again.
Look out for signs such as when your baby cries when a bottle is finished to prevent them from throwing it out of frustration. Encourage them to use their throwing skills with objects such as balls and playing cause-and-effect games. Soon, your little one will realize there are far better things than bottles to throw on the floor!