Healthy snacking is important for a variety of different reasons. Regular snacks help little ones learn when they’re hungry and full: all part of developing a healthy relationship with food. Additionally, snack times boost the intake of key nutrients that all toddlers with growing bodies, brains and bones need, from protein and healthy fats through to whole grains, minerals and vitamins.
Here are our golden rules for healthy snacking:
Regular as clockwork:
As far as possible try to serve snacks at similar times of the day so your little one comes to see snacking as part of their eating routine rather than as a ‘treat’ time
Voyage of discovery:
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a ‘rice cake rut’ and to offer the same food over and over, particularly if you’ve got a selective eater on your hands. But because snacks are small they’re a great way to try out new tastes. Be patient! Remember it will often take several attempts before a cautious little eater will learn to love a new taste
Little and often:
Don’t overestimate how much a toddler needs to eat. Remember their tummies are tiny – approximately the size of their clenched fist
Balance sweet and savoury:
To protect tiny teeth and make sure little ones are getting plenty of protein and fibre, try to offer more savoury snacks than sweet snacks.
Phase out screen time:
Avoid connecting eating with screen time and ‘mindless munching’. Instead, encourage your tot to sit down at the table and really enjoy their food
Involve your little one:
Get your little one involved in shopping for, choosing, preparing and even growing their snack food. They’re far more likely to be adventurous with trying new snacks if they’ve had a role in creating them
You and me time:
Make a conscious effort to use snack time as quality catch up time. A time to exchange stories about your day, to share some giggles or to plan the next adventure
With these rules, you and your little one will have a healthy relationship with food in no time! It’s to be expected that by one years old, toddlers should be eating three meals and two-to three nutritious snacks a day. Happy snacking!