Most toddlers need three meals and two healthy snacks a day to keep their energy levels up for daily adventures. Regular snacks help little ones learn when they're hungry and full, which is all part of them developing a healthy relationship with food. Snacks also help boost the intake of key nutrients that all toddlers with growing bodies, brains and bones need, and they’re a great way to encourage little ones to try new flavours.
Here are our nutritionist Lucy Jones’ golden rules for healthy snacking.
Regular as clockwork
As far as possible try to serve snacks at similar times of the day so your little one comes to see snacking as part of their eating routine rather than as a ‘treat’ time.
Voyage of discovery
It’s all too easy to get stuck in a ‘rice cake rut’ and to offer the same food over and over, particularly if you’ve got a selective eater on your hands. But because snacks are small they’re a great way to try out new tastes. Be patient! Remember it will often take several attempts before a cautious little eater will learn to love a new taste.
Little and often
Don’t overestimate how much a toddler needs to eat. Remember their tummies are tiny – approximately the size of their clenched fist.
Balance sweet and savoury
To protect tiny teeth and make sure little ones are getting plenty of protein and fibre, try to offer more savoury snacks than sweet snacks.
Phase out screen time
Avoid connecting eating with screen time and ‘mindless munching’. Instead, encourage your tot to sit down at the table and really enjoy their food.
Involve your little one
Get your little one involved in shopping for, choosing, preparing and even growing their snack food. They’re far more likely to be adventurous with trying new snacks if they’ve had a role in creating them.
You and me time
Make a conscious effort to use snack time as quality catch up time. A time to exchange stories about your day, to share some giggles or to plan the next adventure.