- Feeding for baby’s first year
- 5 Times it’s okay for your kids to go hungry
- The problem with “leftovers”
Ahh… snacks. Such wonderful handy little things if done right. Annoying and counterproductive otherwise. Because food is such an important thing for the body and, honestly, seems to consume so much time and effort throughout our days, here are my thoughts on snacking.
Babies and Snacking
Since my babies are newborns I develop a snacking strategy. Or rather, a non-snacking strategy. Newborns? Snacking? They don’t even eat food! When my babies are nursing exclusively I made sure that every feeding was a generous feed. Not a minute or two and off to snooze land. As babies get older they need more than just milk to keep them going. When they are introduced to solids, no matter if it’s purees or baby led weaning, I try to choose “set times” where they eat.
Read: Can I breastfeed on a schedule? (Answer, yes you can or no you don’t have to!)
And each time they are at the table for meals, I try to focus on getting them a good serving. I believe this helps their mood and sleeping patterns. For example, from around 6-12 months, my babies eat solids 4 times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime snack. They eat an ample serving each time, and I believe that is one reason they are content and well-rested. Who can sleep well on an empty belly?
Toddlers and Snacking
Snack to sustain not to pacify
I’ve always avoided giving my kids snacks just to get a happy demeanor. It’s one thing to offer a snack because they are genuinely hungry or have blood sugar issues, it’s another to offer them a cookie so they’ll stop throwing a tantrum. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are good times for snacks as they help the kids get to the next meal without being too hungry. And children whose bellies are full are apt to behave better. When giving a snack, try to give them something that will sit heavier in their stomach.
If it’s a light fruit, pair with peanut butter (it’s good fat). Cheese sticks, fruit and cottage cheese, or crackers and a type of spread are good snack ideas that will actually be substantial in their little bellies. While adults may like a diet of eating a small meal every three hours to increase their metabolism and lose weight, this is simply an unsustainable practice with small children. It will disturb their ability to sleep through the night (if they’re hungry) and it means they won’t ever really be hungry enough to eat each meal well.
Set times, set places
A good idea for snacks is to have set times (not rigid, but generally speaking) and set places. It’s not a great idea to let kids roam around the house with food because it’ll make a mess, attract pests, and doesn’t promote good habits. Instead try giving them snacks at the table or kitchen counter.
This will fit well in the routine, be less mess, and the kids will be more likely to finish eating when they are full since they aren’t playing/eating at the same time. We do a morning snack at the beginning of independent play time and an afternoon snack after they wake up from their naps (they all nap at the same time).
We all come to the table or high chairs and have a quick snack, then they can get back down to play. This helps keep them satisfied until dinner. I don’t mind giving them a substantial snack either as long as it doesn’t see to routinely interfere with dinner.
Offer healthy snacks over sugary treats
I am not against the odd cookie or cake. I think they’re fun, yummy, and great for a treat! However, a treat is not a treat if you eat one every day. Instead of giving them something that will cause their blood sugar levels to rise then crash, give them something that will sustain them. Some possible snack ideas include:
- cheese (sticks or slices)
- cottage cheese
- peanut butter
- whole grain cereal
- dip (hummus or avocado)
- apple slices
The times and foods you choose will depend upon your family’s preferences, but the key to developing an easy family food routine is consistency!
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Horizon Organic focuses on quick and easy organic snacks and mealtime solutions for busy families. I got our snacks at Publix, but they can be found at various supermarkets all over the country. Follow Horizon Organic on Twitter and Facebook.
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