After some reading, I understand that dropping stuff is a natural part of baby's development.

What I couldn't find after some research, was whether or not I should keep giving the objects that he drops back to him.

I currently give it back to him 3 or 4 times to make sure he's dropping them deliberately, and then stop giving them back to him.

Any advice?

(I'm talking about when he's in a highchair or other place where he can't reach toys once he's dropped them.)

2 Answers 2


Dropping things over and over again is a known phase. It's a great learning opportunity. You can choose what message to send your toddler and what you want to teach. For example, you might take them out of the highchair the minute they drop anything. Generally, parents who adopt this rule come to regret it, because the minute the child wants out of the highchair they just drop something. (We put our cat out any time he scratched the furniture; he started scratching things when he wanted to go out. Sigh.)

The particular set of things I wanted to teach our kids were:

  • you can control the world around you. One minute you have a toy up here with you, then next minute it's down there. Isn't that cool? Want to repeat the experiment? Great, here's your toy again. (For best effect the toy needs to spend a little time on the floor to let the toddler "soak in" what has happened.)
  • you can ask me to do things for you, such as picking up things you dropped, and I will.
  • you can share your joy in discovering things with me, and I will generally join in
  • when I say "all done", we're all done. (Always using the same phrase helps them to learn this, as does physically removing the object they were dropping to somewhere they can't see it.) You may prefer "that's enough" or "game over", the point is to have a consistent phrase you can use in other circumstances once it has been learned.
  • food is not for dropping, dropping food is not fun and I will take your food away if you start using it as a toy

You may have a different set of things you want to teach, like "mealtimes are not for playing" or "I am not your servant" or "three times is enough for anything". That's cool, this is your family, you choose what the lessons are. The mere existence of this phase gives you a wonderful opportunity to set the tone of your family life. And since you are likely to have friends with a different tone, you also get a learning opportunity of your own: how to interact with people who parent differently from you and suggest you follow their conclusions and do what they do.


If that's the game you want to play with your son, great.

On the other hand, if the toys he's dropping morph into bowls of applesauce and spaghetti, you might want to separate playtime from mealtime.

  • 2
    @user I think you're misunderstanding this. What he's saying is that your son dropping something is inviting you to play a game. If you want to play the game with him, then play (pick it up). If you don't, then don't. However, the next stage after dropping toys is dropping food; so at that point usually you need to find a way to deal with it so that he's not too unhappy and you're not constantly cleaning up huge messes. He's answering your direct question ("whether or not I should keep giving the objects back").
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 14:06

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