I usually recommended snacks or mid meals from around 12 months of age. This is because after the first year of life, a toddlers growth starts to slow down and their appetite can decrease. A toddlers intake will vary day to day and meal to meal so consistency and routine is key for tinny tummies and small appetites. Three meals and two snacks per day are enough for most healthy toddlers. As children grow beyond toddlerhood snacks continue to help children manage their hunger between meals and meet their nutrition requirements. There are a number of key points to remember with snacks:
Have regular routine snack times as much as possible; for example morning tea and afternoon tea
Limit grazing inbetween meals and snacks
Parent choses what and when snacks are served; snacks ideally are best served sitting and with no distractions
Meals and 'snacks' can have the same foods.
Avoid highly processed snacks as much as possible
So that being said, snacks are an opportunity to provide nutrition to your child and a chance to give more exposure to a variety of foods, the more colourful the better.
Pro tip: I always like to serve a fruit and/or vegetable, with some fat and protein to keep kids full until the next meal.
Keep it simple and offer a variety of fruits at snack time, some of my favourite ways to serve fruit are:
- Fruit platter with cheese sticks or cheese slices
- Banana rounds topped with peanut butter
- Fresh fruit and full fat Greek yoghurt
- Fruit and nuts (*nuts are a choking risk under 5 years of age)
-Apple and cheddar cheese slices
-Ricotta cheese spread on crackers with strawberries
-Banana and chia seed pudding
-Rice cakes, peanut butter and sliced banana
The more kids see vegetables throughout the day the more likely they are to accept and eat vegetables, so serving them at snacks is a useful strategy, and can take the pressure off at main meals. Current data shows that just 5 percent of Australian children are consuming the recommended serve of vegetables each day. So get those serves of veggies up by including them in snacks. Some of my favourite ways to serve vegetables are:
- Vegetable sticks and cheese (*hard vegetables can be a choking risk for young children)
- Black beans and avocado slices
- Hummus or vegetable dips with crackers
- Zuchini and cheese muffins (Recipe: grate 1 x zuchini, squeeze any excess juice out, 3/4 cup of grated cheddar cheese, 1.5 cups of SR flour, 1/2 cup of greek yohurt, 2 x eggs, 2 Table spoons of extra virgin olive oil, mix and spoon into muffin trays, bake for 10 minutes)
- Grated carrot, grated cheese and sultanas
- Crumpet topped with butter and mashed avocado
- Sliced hard boiled egg with cherry tomatos* (be sure to cut tomatos to reduce their choking risk) .
Be sure to modify any foods to suit your childs age and stage of feeding development.
Up next my favourite On-The-Go (packet) snacks.