There’s no doubt about it, kids love to snack. And nothing gives parents more satisfaction than seeing their child eat healthy food. Go to any play group or park and you will see most parents toting around a bag bulging with little containers of crackers, cheese, fruit, juice boxes, granola bars…they usually have enough food for a small army!
It’s understandable that parents want to encourage their kids to eat, but there’s a downside to snacking. While there’s nothing wrong with a couple of snacks a day, offering your child small amounts of food too often could actually be having a negative impact on his eating habits. One of the biggest problems is that kids will fill up on all those little snacks and then not be hungry for the more substantial meals when lunchtime or dinnertime rolls around.
Snacking can be an issue for picky eaters as well. A fussy child will happily demand and eat toast or crackers all day if you let her, and then she will be far less likely to try the pesto pasta or roasted chicken you offer her for dinner. Limiting snacks will ensure your child is hungry enough to eat some “real” food.
Not that snacking is all bad; those little tummies are small and young children need to eat regularly. But this doesn’t mean they should be allowed to have an all-day snacking frenzy. This can set up bad patterns for adulthood as well. Many adults struggle with snacking and binging on unhealthy foods between meals and before bed.
The best time to offer snacks to your child is two hours after breakfast and two hours after lunch. Evening snacking should be discouraged, and if your child is going to bed early enough, he shouldn’t need to snack after supper.
It’s a good idea to structure your snack times just like you structure your mealtimes, unless you’re out for the day or travelling. Choose a specific time and place for your child to sit down every day to enjoy her snack. If you’re at home, sit her down at the table to help establish this as a place where eating happens, as opposed to letting her wander around munching on food while she plays.
But Mom, I’m hungry!
It might seem like a very foreign idea to refuse food to your toddler or preschooler, but if your child demands food in between snack and mealtimes, you can tell him he needs to wait. This does not mean you are starving your child. You are actually teaching him how to have healthy attitudes around food and to not stuff himself every time he feels like he’s hungry. He will eat more of the substantial, healthy food at mealtimes.
10 Healthy Snack Ideas for toddlers and preschoolers
Of course, some children are a LOT fussier than others. If you already feel like you’ve “tried everything” to get your child eating a healthy diet, don’t give up! I created “The Food Sense Program” especially for the fussiest of fussy eaters.
Welcome to Tip #2 of my free baby sleep class! If you missed Tip…View Post
Welcome to Tip #3 of my free baby sleep class! If you missed Tip…View Post
Welcome to Tip #4 of my free baby sleep class! If you missed Tip…View Post