We all know toddlers love snacks but did you know that snacking actually serves a really important purpose for young children? Here’s why!
Eat three square meals a day and no snacking in between… that’s something we’re often told as adults as being the best way to eat. But when it comes to children, and particularly toddlers, this way of eating is unlikely to suit them or meet their needs.
Snacking is often seen in a negative light even when it comes to children. People think of kids tucking into bags of crisps and swigging on sugary drinks. But good healthy snacks can actually play a really important role in meeting a child’s daily nutritional needs.
Here’s my guide to toddler snacking… why snacks are important and what to serve!
1. Two to three snacks a day is ideal for children, one mid-morning and either one mid-afternoon and the last one before bed or two spaced out during the afternoon if they have a late dinner. Spacing snacks out helps to manage a toddler’s hunger and keep their energy levels steady all day. No one likes a hangry child!!
2. Small children have little stomachs. They cannot consume anywhere near the quantities of food that adults can at mealtimes so snacks are an important way of supplementing what they eat for their main meals and making sure they meet their daily calorie requirements.
3. That said, portion control and timing is important. If you allow toddlers to graze on snacks all afternoon it’s unlikely they will be hungry enough for their dinner!
4. Snacks are a great way of making sure that children are getting enough nutritious food in their diet. New guidelines suggest that kids should be eating up to ten portions of fruit and veg a day now (as if five wasn’t hard enough!!) but snacks are the perfect time to serve some extra fruit and veg and pack in those vitamins and minerals that are so vital for growing little bodies.
5. Serving some wholegrains and proteins as part of a snack is ideal as this will help to fill children up and satisfy their hunger without crazy blood sugar spikes. My kids love these Organix Mini Gingerbread Biscuits served with some cubes of cheese and lots of fruit and veg.
6. Presentation of food is important when it comes to children and my two absolutely love it when I serve their snacks in these divided plates. It encourages them to eat, or at least try, a little of everything. They were super cheap, £1 each from a pound shop a few years ago and I also have a few larger versions that I use when they have friends round.
If you have any tips for toddler snacks or some favourite recipes please do share them in the comments below or share on social media using the hashtag #nojunkjourney
Disclosure: I have been compensated for my time spent working on this campaign with Organix but as always all thoughts are honest and are my own.