One of the most common questions we’re asked by parents here at Early Start Nutrition, is around what foods to serve children at snack time. In this blog we’ll explore how to incorporate snacks into your little ones mealtime routine, how to plan healthy snacks and which foods to include.
As part of a healthy meal routine, try to offer your toddler 2-3 healthy snacks across the day:
- one mid-morning (between breakfast and lunch)
- one mid- afternoon (between lunch and tea)
- one in the evening (optional).
This will help your toddler to maintain their energy levels, while also providing them with important nutrients to support their growth, development and learning!
Timings of meals and snacks
It’s a good idea to offer meals and snacks at a similar time each day.
This will support your child to establish a good meal routine, which will help them to manage their appetite.
Ideally, there should be around a 2-3 hour gap between each meal and snack. If offered too close together, for example, snack at 10:30am and lunch at 11:30am, it’s likely to reduce your child’s appetite for the food offered at the main meal.
The ideal mealtime should last around 20- 30 minutes. This is enough time for children to eat as much as they need, without feeling rushed or loosing interest. Of course, some children may take a little longer than others, so it’s important to recognise their individual needs.
What types of snacks should I offer my child?
Snack times are a great opportunity to offer your little one a range of nutritious foods. Think about planning your snacks across the week to help you include lots of variety, and ensure you’re not offering the same snacks too frequently.
Top Tip: To help keep snacks interesting, it’s good fun to occasionally theme them around celebration days, events and your child’s interests!
E.g. pitta bread, bread fingers, chapatti, tortilla wraps, plain popcorn, rice cakes, low salt breadsticks, crackers, crumpet, bagel slices, sliced sweet potato, teacake, malt loaf.
Pictures from left to right: homemade bunny pancake, The Very Hungry Caterpillar sandwiches, tortilla stars with hummus, toast with smooth peanut butter and banana.
E.g. carrot, cucumber, pepper, avocado, beetroot, tomatoes (slice cherry tomatoes into quarters to prevent choking), celery, butternut squash, suede, mushrooms.
E.g. Orange, apple, pineapple, banana, grapes (sliced into quarters length-ways), strawberries, blueberries, pear, raspberries, mango, papaya, guava, star fruit, blackberries, peach, kiwi. Choose fruit and vegetables in season.
Pictures from left to right: kiwi and raspberry Christmas tree, celery snails with smooth nut butter/cream cheese, strawberry and watermelon fruit kebabs, orange fruit cups with raspberries and blueberries
E.g. hummus, tahini, sliced egg, mashed fish dip, mashed bean dip, sliced chicken, turkey, pork, beef, tofu, falafel, Quorn pieces.
Pictures from left to right: pepper frittata (made with egg), pumpkin hummus with pepper and breadsticks, egg fingers with smashed avocado, smooth nut butter with apple fingers
Dairy and Alternative Foods
E.g. yoghurt, fromage frais, cream cheese, hard cheese, milk.
Pictures from left to right: cheese triangles with pretzels, mini pizzas with cheese and vegetables, plain yoghurt with mashed raspberries, cheese stars with crackers
Healthy Snacks for Toddlers- Tip Sheet
Below is our newly developed Healthy Snacks for Toddlers tip sheet. This is a helpful reminder of the key points we’ve discussed in this blog. Click here to download your FREE copy!
Finally, don’t forget to follow us on on social media for more snack ideas and inspiration!