Firstly, it is normal for children from 12 months of age and beyond to require snacks. Typically, most toddlers and children need 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and 2 snacks per day (morning tea and afternoon tea) with an optional bedtime snack. This meal pattern is helpful right through childhood, so we are not totally off the hook for snacks 😁. However grazing patterns and constantly preparing or getting food on demand for your tiny person can create stress, unhealthy meal patterns and even contribute to fussy eating.
The trick to getting out of the kitchen and only serving food when you are ready (not on demand) is to have a meal routine. A meal routine helps children, especially younger children, recognise hunger cues, learn to feel fullness and establish good eating habits (for example sitting down to eat).
Some tips to make routines work:
- Stick to 3 main meals and 2 snacks/day from 12 months of age with an optional bed time snack for older children or those who are still up at least 2 hours after dinner.
- Each child is unique so work out a schedule that suits their age and stage.
- It is okay for a child to refuse a snack or meal. Appetites can vary from day to day and even from meal to meal. If they don’t eat much at a meal or snack time, the next meal is not far away
- Be consistent with the routine but allow for some flexibility around times. If you can see your child is hungry but morning tea is 30 minutes away, serve morning tea a little earlier then you planned.
- Children are very good at knowing how much they need to eat, allow children to choose how much they want to eat – they can always ask for more!
- Use a meal planner – have a plan for what meals and snacks you will serve during the day
- Choose snacks that will keep kids full and nourished until their next meal by including foods with fibre, fat and protein
5 simple snack ideas:
- Fruit, veg and cheese platter (make it age and stage appropriate)
- ¾ cup of Greek yoghurt with chopped berries and 1 x tablespoon of chia seeds and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- Rice cakes topped with nut butter of choice and banana slices
- Hummus or avocado dip with pita bread triangles and cucumber sticks
- Ricotta and Banana pikelets
For more information, ideas and recipes for all things baby, kids and family nutrition follow Anna on www.instagram.com/nourishlittlelives