Baby spitting food out how to stop

Tips to Solve Common Eating Issues

When you’re feeding a child, serving 3+ meals per day, struggles are inevitable. It’s common to have minor hiccups along the way, and many times you can move past them with a few simple changes. Whether it’s difficulty chewing or biting, overstuffing, pocketing, or food throwing, you are not alone.

Today, I’m here to help solve 6 common eating challenges.

  1. My child isn’t chewing her food.

Babies begin with a simple up and down reflexive motion of their jaw that comes under their own control between 5 and 9 months. From there, they advance to a diagonal jaw movement starting around 7 to 9 months, and later to a circular movement, which is fully developed by about 24 months. Watch for your child to increase the number of chews, size, and rhythm, and to advance from up and down to eventually a circular jaw movement by age 2.

Chewing skills starts with mouthing. If your baby doesn’t put teething toys or tools in her mouth yet, or your child never did that, start there. Give her a variety of stick-shaped teething toys, like the Dr. Brown’s® Nawgum™, to chew on daily. If she won’t put it into her mouth on her own, help her. Our goal is to place these tools between the gums or molars on the sides of her mouth.

If your child won’t chew on a teething toy or tool:

  • Bring this to your child’s mouth and wait for her to open and accept it. This should be enjoyable and should not feel forced. Try singing, playing games, and moving up from her hands, arms, and shoulders toward her mouth. Once she will allow it in her mouth, place it on her gums in the molar area. Hold it between her gums and wait for her to bite down. If she won’t bite, give a little gentle downward pressure to her lower gums and upward pressure to her upper gums.

If your child is chewing on teething toys and tools, but won’t chew food, try these strategies:

  • Dip stick-shaped teething tools in puree, roll tools in a soft smashable solid (like avocado or banana), or roll in crumbs of a meltable solid (only with this texture after she is crawling), and help your child place this on her molar area for chewing. As described above, hold the tool between her gums and wait for her to bite down. If she won’t bite down, apply a little gentle downward and upward pressure to her gums.
  • Offer stick-shaped foods that are soft (starting after she is sitting up) and meltable (after she is crawling). When you offer these foods, guide her to put them between her molars. By placing between the molar areas, your child will naturally learn to bite and chew with her teeth vs. smashing with her tongue.
  • Once your child is crawling (around 8 to 9 months), place small pieces of soft smashable solid (a small cube of soft fruit or vegetable about the size of your pinky fingernail that you can easily squish between your fingers) or a meltable solid (a small piece of a dissolvable puff) between her gums on the sides. When you place a piece of food to the side, she will bite down, and will shift her tongue to the side you place the food. When she shifts her tongue, her jaw will shift, advancing her chewing skills. Alternate sides to teach the back and forth motion of the tongue and jaw.
  1. My child won’t bite into bigger pieces of food.

Babies are typically able to take a controlled bite from a soft solid beginning between 7 and 12 months.

Teaching a child to take bites and to chew also starts with mouthing. If your child hasn’t done that or if he skipped that step, start there.

Once your child is regularly mouthing and chewing on tools, help him to learn to bite by offering stick-shaped foods. If he needs help, guide these over to his molar area to take bites.

If your child is chewing tools regularly, but is still not biting pieces off:

  • For a baby or younger child, offer a stick-shaped food and hold it for your child very close to the top, so he is only able to bite off beyond your fingers.
  • For an older child, make a line on the food so your child can see where to bite. You can use a toothpick to draw a line, or a fork to make a dotted line. I like to tell kids these are the teeth marks, and then ask them to bite on the teeth marks.
  • Teach your child about bite size. You can show a picture of a mouse and tell him that a mouse “takes small bites” and a picture of a lion who “takes very big bites.” Talk your child about the best bite size for his mouth, and then rehearse by having him identify mouse vs. lion bites on himself and you.
  1. My child is overstuffing her mouth.

First, work on improving your child’s oral awareness (the ability to understand and feel food in her mouth, and the borders of the inside of her mouth). Children learn this through mouthing, typically by 5 to 9 months.

  • Help your child improve her oral awareness by brushing inside her mouth (on the top and sides of his tongue, inside her cheeks, and along her gums) with a finger brush or child sized toothbrush. Do this with tooth brushing and/or just prior to meals to wake up her mouth and get her ready to eat.

  • Just prior mealtime while you are preparing a meal, give your child a stick-shaped teething tool for chewing practice. Make this part of your mealtime routine.

While your child is working on improving oral awareness and sensation in the mouth, help her to learn to take small bites by only offering just 1-2 bites on her plate at a time. It sounds simple, but most of the time, we just need to break the habit and allow the child to practice this skill. Keep her full serving of food over to the side, and add new bites to her plate as she eats.

For an older child, talk about small bites one at a time, and use pictures (like the lion and mouse described above) to help her understand the difference.

For any age child, offer foods with stronger flavors. These provide more sensation in the mouth. When a child can feel the food, she’ll be less likely to overstuff.

  1. My child pockets food in her cheeks.

With pocketing, I’d recommend the same strategies as described above with mouth stuffing. Start with the mouthing, brushing, and chewing practice. Again, the key here is oral awareness and that starts in infancy with mouthing.

With pocketing, again offer 1-2 bites on the tray at a time, but this time also offer a cup of cold water for sips between bites. Cold water is best because it can increase sensation and be alerting for a child’s mouth. Practicing sips between bites will get the child accustomed to the feeling of a clean mouth.

Teach an older child to use her tongue to clean her mouth between bites. Show her how you move your tongue to the side and then push it into your cheeks to clear food out. I like to tell a child that the tongue is like a broom, cleaning the food around the mouth. Cue your child to “use your broom” when you notice pocketing. You can also provide a touch cue to the outside of a child’s cheek to remind her to move her tongue to that side.

Use a mirror with meals or snacks every once in awhile. You can keep a small handheld mirror at the table, or move your table so a mirror is across from your child. Cue your child to look in the mirror to “make sure your mouth is all clean” between bites. If your child’s oral sensation is reduced, this visual cue will be very helpful.

  1. My child throws food during meals.

First, take a look at which foods your child is throwing and when. Is your child full and then begins throwing? Is he throwing a food he doesn’t like? Does he do this when his plate is full and he’s overwhelmed? If you can get to the bottom of why this is happening, then you can solve this struggle. If you’re unsure, try a combination of methods and see what works for your child.

Here are 4 reasons why food throwing occurs and how to help:

  • If your child does not want to eat a particular food:
    • Give your child a place to put the food. Use an “all done” Place a small bowl next to your child’s plate. When he starts to throw the food, re-direct him to put the food into the “all done” bowl. Verbally cue your child, “This is the all done bowl. If you’re all done with that, put it here.” Do not push your child to eat any of the food he has placed in this container.
  • If your child is full:
    • End the meal. When your child throws food, take that as a cue that he is done. If you don’t feel your child is truly done yet, try giving a reminder first, “If you throw your food, that tells me you are all done. If you throw again, we will be all done.”
  • If your child looking for attention:
    • Many times kids will throw food if they are looking for attention, both positive and negative. Ignore the behavior and bring your focus to something positive your child is doing, something else on his plate, or a new conversation. Without any attention, the food throwing should diminish over time.
  • If your child overwhelmed:
    • Try removing most of the food on the plate and offering just 2-3 simple bites. Make sure the table space around your child is clear and free of clutter.
  1. My child chews foods and spits it out.

Chewing and spitting out food is very common for toddlers. We often see children doing this with new foods, harder to chew textures, or when they are not hungry. If it’s happening every once in awhile, or for a brief period of time, it is completely normal. However, if this persists, or your child is not swallowing any foods, then further evaluation by a professional is warranted.

If your child is chewing and spitting out food, stop the behavior by changing her focus. Offer a sip of a drink, place a different food on the tray, or start a conversation to re-direct her. If she continues to do it, then end the meal. Say something like, “I can see that you are all done, let’s clean up.” Keep it neutral and avoid making a big deal about the spitting, as this can only increase the behavior (if your child enjoys the attention they get from the reaction). I like to go with a “two strikes rule. As described above, if your child continues after two attempts to re-direct or change things, then the meal is done.

If you notice your child is always spitting a certain texture, make that texture easier for your child to manage by chopping it smaller, cooking it down to a softer consistency, or by adding a dip or sauce to soften it.

No matter the struggle, you are not alone in this. Feeding challenges are common, especially in the toddler years. Sometimes the simplest changes can make all the difference.

If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed, these challenges are impacting your child’s health and wellness, or they are not going away, seek out a Clinical Feeding Evaluation with a Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist. During this appointment, the professional will watch your child eat and drink, and will give your personalized recommendations and treatment plan.

ChiKids Speech & Feeding offers home-based, in-person Feeding Evaluations and Treatment for families in the Chicagoland area, as well as virtual options for families across the US. To learn more, head to or @chikidsfeeding on Instagram.

About the author:

Catherine Callahan, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC
ChiKids Speech & Feeding, LLC

Catherine is a speech-language pathologist, pediatric feeding specialist, certified lactation consultant, and mom of three. She resides in Chicago, where she works at a top 10 US Children’s Hospital and owns her own business, ChiKids Speech & Feeding, LLC. In her private practice, Catherine offers in-home and virtual feeding evaluations and treatment for local infants and children; and through her social media and blog, she shares everyday feeding strategies and supports families and professionals across the globe.

Why is my baby spitting out food?

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Most babies go through phases where they spit out food, but it's important to keep in mind that they don't do it just to make you crazy. Even though it's never pleasant to be around a baby who spits food out regularly, you'll be relieved to learn that spitting food is totally normal and a necessary step of learning to eat.

To put your mind at ease, we put together a guide on how to deal with a baby spitting out food.

Why do babies spit out food?

To succeed in the process of making your baby eat independently, it's important to allow them to practice as much as possible so they can develop their skills. In most cases, this means that some food is going to be wasted in the process, and that's totally ok.

Babies need to learn how to make certain movements with their tongue and lips when they start eating solid food. Those movements are quite different from the movements required to bottle or breastfeed. 

Above all, babies need to understand that they need to chew and swallow the food and not to spit it out. As mentioned above, all children go through the phase of spitting food, but why do they do it?

There are several reasons babies may spit out food. First, they may do it when they encounter foods with textures they aren't used to. They may like the taste, but the texture may feel strange to them, their instinct is to spit it out. Of course, there's always the possibility they don't like the taste of the food you're offering them.

Babies may also spit food because the bites you are offering them are too large. If the food is too large, the little one's instinct may be to spit it out to prevent choking. Try to offer them smaller bites and use a small spoon whenever possible.

Moreover, babies have a tendency to swallow air while sucking and chewing, which means that their stomachs become very full, which makes them prone to spitting food out. 

Sometimes, babies spit out food because they're teething, which may lead to an increased body temperature, feelings of tiredness and a general not-so-brilliant mood. If that's the case, it's important to be patient and understand that the baby may only want to eat certain things that don't make them uncomfortable. Since the baby can't let you know what they'd prefer for breakfast, some foods are going to be spit out.

Babies may also be interested in getting your attention too and spitting food may be a way to do that.  Or they may spit the food out to let you know that they're already full. 

And finally, let's not forget that a baby's main job is to discover the world around them. Sometimes, they may find it quite funny to play with food and see the noises it makes as it falls. 

What to do when your baby spits out food?

There are not many things you can do to prevent the baby from spitting out food. The easiest and least frustrating way to deal with this issue is to let it be. Remember that your little one is only learning how to chew thoroughly, so intervening or letting them know you are disapproving of their behavior won't solve much.

When your baby spits out food, it's important to talk to them and acknowledge their behavior. For example, you can tell them things such as, "Wow, was that a big bite for you so you had to spit it out?" The more a baby is exposed to language that explains their actions, the more likely they are to learn.

If you know that your baby is in the spitting out phase and you're going somewhere where this behavior would be frowned upon, like a restaurant or your parent's house for dinner, follow these tips to limit the spitting out as much as possible. 

  • Make sure everything you offer the baby is easy to handle and to chew.
  • Only offer the baby small amounts of food at a time.
  • If someone makes a remark, a suitable answer would be to explain that the baby is still learning to chew and they're currently working on their swallowing skills.

It's essential to respect the baby's decision to refuse a certain type of food. Never force the baby to eat because that's a surefire way to undermine the health of the feeding relationship. Give your baby time to practice their chewing and swallowing skills, as these are not things babies can instantly be great at. 

Some pediatricians recommend baby-led weaning, which allows babies and toddlers to control what and how much they eat. This is a strategy you could try if you notice that nothing else works and your baby is spitting food out all the time. 

What to do if an older baby or toddler is spitting out food?

Sometimes you may find that babies that are close to one year old or even toddlers are spitting out food. If your baby has had lots of practice with finger foods and yet they are still spitting food out, here's what you can do:

  • Always make sure the baby is hungry when you're offering them food. They should have the drive to swallow the food they're putting in their mouth instead of spitting it out. This doesn't mean that you should wait until they're starving, but instead, consider spacing out meals (including breastfeeding or bottles) about two hours apart. 
  • Offer the baby foods that encourage their side to move side to side while also providing the opportunity to bite on something, like veggies dipped in their favorite sauce, for example. 
  • Lead by example. Babies are great imitators, so place food in your mouth, show them that you chew it, swallow, then open your mouth and tell the baby how the food went into your belly. Chances are the little one will want to be just like their mom or dad and will swallow the food instead of spitting it out. 

Sometimes, babies may spit out food because of a medical issue you're not aware of — they may have a sore throat, for example. If you believe the spitting may be because of such an issue, it's important to consult a pediatrician. 

If your baby spits out the food regularly when you're feeding them, you may be worried they may not be eating enough. The good news is that even though they're spitting out a lot of food, babies and toddlers are likely getting enough food. 

It's still a good idea to talk to your pediatrician, who will evaluate the baby's weight gain during the regular check-ups to see if everything is on track. Most of the time, it may look like a lot of food is coming out, but in fact, it might not be more than a tablespoon.  

Parents may be tempted to offer the baby a "top off" in the form of milk, but that may lead to overfeeding, which can, in turn, cause reflux and become uncomfortable for the baby. 

Bottom Line

Spitting is a normal phase for just about any baby who's learning how to chew and swallow while also getting accustomed to various textures and tastes. 

The best way to prevent the baby from spitting out food is by allowing them to explore food as much as they like and lead by example by patiently demonstrating to them how to do it right. 

Finally, it's always a good idea to introduce the baby to various types of foods one by one to give them time to get accustomed to a specific texture and taste before moving to another. 



The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.

Ana Reisdorf ,MS, RD

Ana Reisdorf has over a decade of experience as a Registered Dietitian and freelance writer. She has a passion for creating incredible health and nutrition content. She is the author of three books, as well as dozens of articles on food and wellness.

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Why is the child spitting out food? How to wean?


more than a year ago

Started to feed the child from 6 months with different purees and cereals. As the child turned 1 year old, I give fruits chopped finely. When she started to feed such food, she only eats a couple of spoons, and then chews in her mouth and spits it out. Sometimes the child completely ate what you give. Now the child is 1.7. Now I give small pieces of fruit. But also sometimes will eat everything, but mostly chews and spits out. How to wean not to spit? Am I giving my child too much fruit? nine0003




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Spits out food



28.08.2012 11:56

The child is 8 months old. While eating, sometimes he begins to make lips "prr" (like boys carry cars), food flies in all directions. Is it a certain stage of development or something psychological?


08/28/2012 12:40

Not hungry. I stopped feeding when the baby started to do so.


28.08.2012 13:00

Sometimes at the very beginning of feeding. nine0003


28.08.2012 13:13

Maybe the feeding time is not right, or the baby doesn't like the food.


28.08.2012 14:02

stop feeding a couple of times at this moment and it will stop doing so :) Just don't get angry, just calmly say that you don't play with food :)

nimbik C.S.

28.08.2012 15:10

This is the beginning for you, and he may be full from the last time. At this age, I already allowed the child to skip feedings when he clearly had no appetite. Nothing terrible happened. ;) nine0003

vkb V. I.P.

28.08.2012 15:37

And we used to do that at your same age - getting hit on the lips by dad, now we're a year and a month old, it doesn't do that anymore.

Scarlet flower *

28.08.2012 17:17

Cool advice, what are you and your husband doing for the things you don't like? is he with you?

Karyota V.I.P.

08/28/2012 17:28

What to do, give advice. Wait it out? don't give food? nine0003


28.08.2012 17:32

Mine just does it, without food. I would definitely fall behind with food, well, obviously she doesn’t want to eat if she spits like that)

Cariota V.I.P.

08/28/2012 18:21

No, he really dabbled. He spat out the first spoon like that. And we love to eat, even when the cold was with a temperature, he didn’t refuse to eat. When he spits out if he doesn’t like this one thing, and when he does prrr on purpose several times in a row and everything and everything around is in porridge, plus he was told it’s already impossible several times , and he continues and laughs at the same time - that's what he got for it. (He got it on his lips with a plastic children's spoon - he was offended and sobbed.) We immediately taught that it was impossible to indulge at the table. nine0156 And he didn't get it right away either :) It's hard to piss off our dad. But now when he does prrrr, I say it’s impossible - he stops.

Scarlet flower *

28.08.2012 20:08

If my husband did something bad to the child, I would immediately do the same to him. Children must not be touched.
Those who beat (slap well) use any physical impact, sign that they are powerless in verbal impact, and simply cannot explain in words. That is, you yourself are a fool, but you spank a child. nine0003

Karyota V.I.P.

29.08.2012 10:34

I don't think so. The child must know what is possible and what is not. And, yes, with a one-year-old child, we are powerless in verbal influence, because. He is still small!!! Even in the Bible it is written that the parent is obliged to discipline the children, and if not, then the child then winds ropes from the parents.
For us, the fact that he was spitting became a problem - he understands "it's impossible", but he does what he wants anyway, so he gets it. I am for punishment in the case (after verbal influence) and for violent coercion, if necessary. (for example, to drink medicine, but he, of course, does not want to)

Scarlet flower *

08/29/2012 11:12

Pevroe, you never know where it is written, do you keep the posts? do you have sex on permitted days? and so on? Or read what is convenient and appropriate?
second, to discipline does not mean to apply physical punishment, if you do, then you simply cannot do it differently, read weak and stupid.
There is also such a concept as DO NOT and DO NOT, do you distinguish between them? And how much should be impossible at the age of one? nine0156 And what is this strange fear that ropes will be twisted out of you? Don't screw up if you respect the boundaries. And do not violate)

Karyota V.I.P.

28.08.2012 21:42

I also did this from 7 months to 11 for sure. It’s cool, it was funny to me, I didn’t know that this was a problem, and besides, you can get it on the lips: -o

Cannibal Horse *

08/29/2012 10:36

The situations are different. Ours did this on purpose and it was impossible to feed him. It has become a problem for us. Enough words now. nine0003

Scarlet flower *

29.08.2012 11:14

So maybe you didn't want to eat? Go, you decide for him when he eats and how much?

Karyota V. I.P.

08/29/2012 11:30

Imagine, yes, while I decide when to eat. It is strange that a child does not make a decision on his own a year ... I feed according to the regimen 4 times a day. Therefore, he wants to eat for every feeding, since we only have fruits or fresh vegetables for snacks. If you feed him more often, he will grow a piglet with me, my son loves to eat very much. I don't have a little one. I wrote above that when we get sick, we eat as usual. Yesterday he ate his porridge, after 5 minutes I had to share a cutlet with him, and after another 5 minutes he pulled a piece of bread from my grandmother’s table and I had to divide a piece in half. nine0156 And I'm not cool or funny when I'm covered in porridge. And the author asked how to deal with the problem. I told how we are. Yes, I did. Yes, no more spitting. Our problem is solved.

Scarlet flower *

08/29/2012 11:40

As far as I remember food is a physiological need and no one except the individual can know for him. And to accustom Mona to everything aha. The current is still incomprehensible, it seems that he ate porridge and seemed to spit, so did he need porridge then? nine0156 Will you solve problems like that? Believe me, porridge is not a small thing... nothing.

08/29/2012 12:02

The child was sick because I was the first to get sick. Probably weird too, right? And yes, we will solve some problems with a belt, if there is no other understanding. They were accustomed to the regimen from birth, they ate the mixture (oh horror), it is often impossible to give it, the mixture was replaced with food, the regimen remained. An individual is only a year old, we decide for him. And if an individual climbs into the socket and does not understand from the 3rd time that it is impossible with words, what will you do? nine0003

Scarlet flower *

29.08.2012 12:14

Kanesh I'll cut it so that half the room will fly faster than from the current, how else?
Young man, everything is clear with you. Play ping-pong, Gena)

Karyota V.I.P.

08/29/2012 22:27

Oh, relax :). There, the girl has a clinical case. From the moment they appeared, they didn’t specially accustom him to hands, he fell asleep (and falls asleep, probably) on his own with a pacifier. So it gets on the lips, and not only, probably ... But with my mother it's still better than without her. So it's not all bad ;). Although my mother remembered about the belt already a year ago :). What will happen by five ...


29.08.2012 22:43

Yes, I haven't met such people for a long time) I lost the habit, I wanted to make sure that everything was not so rotten.

Karyota V.I.P.

08/29/2012 23:02

I read a topic about bedtime... What scares me the most is that the girl has no doubts about her correct approach to education, and proudly recommends it. .. The problem is solved - the child falls asleep on his own, not that what do you have; the problem is solved - the child does not spit, not like yours ... etc. I don’t even comment on her posts anymore, so as not to injure my delicate psyche :))))


29.08.2012 22:35

If an individual climbs into an outlet, then there should be plugs. The rest - no comment, horror

Cannibal Horse *

08/29/2012 22:34

Yes, I really read you, in shock, to be honest from your "educational" measures

Cannibal Horse *

29.08.2012 11:05

At other times, it's also fun for me, but while eating, the flight of porridge somehow does not please me. nine0003


29.08.2012 22:33

Well, I don't know, it was really funny to me. Porridge - what is it, but blueberries ..

Cannibal horse *

29. 08.2012 23:08

Spitting - that's what :)), here at one time EVERY feeding was the game "knock down a spoon", and she pearled the child more than food. That did not cancel spitting :). Have experienced nothing. Now more than two - does not spit, does not knock down spoons. They explained that it was not necessary to do this, he became older - they were expelled from the table. It was funny too, but not every time for several months :))), sometimes tired


29.08.2012 11:13

The same thing) We call it the tractor starts) funny and funny)

Karyota V.I.P.

29.08.2012 11:30

Well, the first couple of times to ask not to do this, the third time to strictly demand, the fourth time to stop eating and drop out of the chair.

Creambird C.B.

29.08.2012 13:25

Have you read somewhere about the "psychological" spitting of an 8-month-old baby, or did you come up with it yourself? Just wondering. Is there such a "version" somewhere? nine0003

Utra Tumannaja *

08/29/2012 13:56

If I had known, I would not have asked questions.


08/29/2012 14:05

So I ask - where did you get this from? I have already gone through the "teeth !!!!!" stage three times, and the 4th time will be the same, it's like giving a drink. Whims...whims...whims. But then everything goes back to normal. But to "psychologically"? I hear it for the first time.

Utra Tumannaja *

29.08.2012 15:46

The child is actively exploring his body and everything around at the same time. Now he is spitting, then he will put his fingers into the porridge, therefore throwing the same porridge and so on. This is the normal development of a small child. At this moment, try to say briefly “no” in a serious voice, well, postpone feeding for 10 minutes, after this time sit down to feed again.

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