Many of our readers are trying to feed toddlers snacks, and trying to make it easy and smart. I have been coming up with some fun, smart snack ideas for younger kids and I have not posted them yet, but I found a great post today on another site, and I wanted to share some of the information from it. The title was: Tips for Smart Snacking. I have taken the liberty to add in my own two sense in bold.
So how do you turn preschoolers into smart snackers?
1. Keep healthy snacks in your refrigerator or pantry. Let kids choose their own snacks from among a couple of nutritious options. (One idea is to portion out the snacks and put them in snack size bags ahead of time, and then let them pick one bag when it comes time for a snack...I think I will do a post later on other ideas for this one.)
2. Offer a variety of snacks, not just the ones kids already likes. Offer new choices, but don't give up on foods that may have been rejected in the past. It may take several tries before a child accepts a new food. (uh huh)
3. Have a schedule for meals and snacks. This lets kids manage their hunger and learn that it's OK to skip a meal or snack because there will be another chance to eat at the next scheduled time. Avoid letting kids pick throughout the day, which can dull internal hunger cues and make them more likely to overeat. (my kids beg for food all day and I try to do this, but I need to really strap down and get serious about it, because it is something a little annoying about hearing that they need more food all morning long)
4. Don't let kids eat in front of the TV. Serve snacks and meals at the table. (uh huh.)
5. Keep mostly healthy foods in the house, with those high in calories, fat, and added sugar kept to a minimum. This doesn't mean kids can never have these foods, but they should be offered only once in a while. (When you are a kid, it's Out of sight, out of mind, I guess)
6. Serve skim or low-fat milk or water with snacks instead of sugary drinks and soda. Limit 100% juice to one serving per day. (I have been told in the past that one serving for a toddler is actually just 4 oz.)
7. Make your preschooler a part of the action! Kids this age feel important when adults let them help out. Let them do what they safely can to prepare their own snacks — whether that's tossing the fruit salad or putting utensils and napkins on the table. (If you have more than one kid give each one their own special job to avoid fighting)
8. Keep an eye on how your child's moods affect eating patterns. Preschoolers often confuse boredom or fatigue with hunger. If your child just ate and is complaining of hunger again, see if a change of scenery or some active play could do the trick. (now that is nice out again I can actually take my kids out. YES!)
9. Share a healthy snack with your kids, who will follow your lead and get the message that you're serving something good. (oh no! Guess that means I have to get all that Easter candy off of the kitchen counter, huh?)