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How to Deal With a Snack Addict

baby eating watermelonMy first son was a snack food addict.

You name it: crackers, goldfish bites, granola bars, tortilla chips… he loved it all and would happily stuff his face!
But when it came to eating a real meal – you know, the kind you spent an hour preparing – he wouldn’t eat a single bite.

It was SOOO frustrating!

If we were at a baby playgroup, he would wander around to all the other moms and beg for snacks like a little puppy dog.

They used to comment about how much he could eat, and I’d roll my eyes and say, “Just wait until lunchtime. He won’t touch a bite…”

To be honest, I felt pretty guilty about all the snacks foods he was eating, but I was really hesitant to say “No” when he asked for a snack, because I was so worried about the fact that he wasn’t eating well.

Something was better than nothing, right?

It was only after spending some time talking with a nutritionist who specialized in children that I realized why this was such a big mistake.

It turns out that my son was getting about 70% of his daily calories from snack foods. This meant that when mealtimes rolled around, he was never really hungry enough to try any of the “new foods” that I so desperately wanted him to be eating.

Plus — even though I was trying to offer healthy options at snacktime – the truth is that he was mostly eating crackers and raisins, which is really just starch and sugar.

It took awhile, but I finally DID manage to get my son’s eating turned around, so here are my top 3 tips to remember if you’re son or daughter is a chronic snacker:

1. You are in charge of snacks, not the other way around. Children quickly learn that snack time isn’t really scheduled, so they beg, plead, and often just help themselves to whatever is easiest to reach in the pantry. This leads to the feeling that snacks are “fun” or a “treat”– and mealtime is a chore. A good rule of thumb is to wait about 2 hours between snacks and meals.

2. Give your child options – but not too many. As we all know, our children like to make choices on their own – and this is especially true with food. I recommend offering your child a choice of at least 2 (but not more than 3) foods at snack time. If he eats one but not the other, don’t worry about it.

3. Have an end time. Snack time should last about 15 or 20 minutes. If your child indicates he is finished with his snack, take it away and do not offer anything else for another two hours. This way, your child will learn to eat until he feels full… or wait until the next meal time.

I hope this helps!


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Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
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My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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