Here are a few healthy older baby and toddler snacks, evening snack options, and some snack time rules for your daily toddler routine.
Know what takes up 50% of motherhood?
Cleaning up after the meals.
And finding snack crumbs in furniture.
For those first few years of life so much of our time is spent making sure our little ones have eaten enough to grow well and sleep well.
How to give snacks to babies without ruining meals
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.
Feed baby solids on a schedule, first off
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.
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.
Healthy baby snacks
You don’t want to give baby a snack every time they seem to ask for one and “ruin” their meals. AKA, they graze all day but are never quite satisfied, don’t nap or rest well because they wake due to hunger, and then you aren’t sure if they have a sleep issue or a food one.
Here are some easy healthy snacks babies can eat. Of course, consult with your pediatrician as to when to introduce snacks and if your baby has any specific food reactions.
- Smashed or whole fruit
- Smashed or whole veggies
- sweet potato
- cheese sticks
- nut butters
- puffs or dry cereal
- food pouches
- scrambled or hard boiled eggs
- teething biscuits
- dried fruit
The sky’s the limit. If you are giving your baby whole foods, the same ones you eat, then baby can literally be eating whatever you eat.
You can give baby separate things for snacks than you do at mealtimes, or simply more of the same.
Toddlers do well to have a couple of set snack times during the day.
This can prevent acting out due to hunger as well as preventing the “can I have a snack?” question a billion times a day.
Give your toddlers a snack to sustain them, not to pacify
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. 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 isn’t easy to put into practice with small children unless you are completely anti-routine.
Otherwise, they’ll be asking for food all day every day.
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.
Daily snack routine – set times, set places
A good idea for snacks is to have set times and set places.
Established snack times
One great way to establish snack times is to have the kitchen Open and Closed. A wise reader shared this tool and it is excellent both for children and mothers.
Here, we do snacks at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times = Kitchen Is Open
Anytime in between that = Kitchen Is Closed
Generally speaking, this prevents never ending snack requests and helps you not to feel guilty. There are established snack times according to your daily routine, and the kids won’t go hungry.
Where children should eat their snacks
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 a table, counter, or otherwise appropriate place.
Create clear boundaries about where snacks can be eaten and stick with it. This makes for easy prep and clean up.
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 it 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.
Healthy snacks for toddlers
- 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!
Evening snacks for kids
If dinner is served early, an evening or bedtime snack is a good way to help little ones fill up before going to sleep for the night.
This will also help older babies and toddlers sleep through the night.
An evening snack is a good idea to help bridge the gap between dinner time and bedtime, but be careful to avoid the following trap.
If you have a toddler that’s a picky eater and won’t eat dinner… don’t get into the habit of simply offering a super yummy evening snack. Why? Because, of course, kids are smart and they’ll happy ignore a dinner of vegetables if they’re going to get some sugary yogurt for snack.
- nut butter
Essentially, a little bit of something they’d normally eat is good, but avoid sugary treats or things like ice cream or dairy which will be harder for the body to break down. And they’ll be so enticing your little one might want to skip dinner!
Get your picky eating printable here!
I’ve created a printable for moms looking to get the mealtime craziness under control.
Help your little one learn to eat healthy snacks and cut back on meal time power battles.
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