Infants, toddlers, preschool, school, teens are all different stages that you kid will go through during the transition period. At all these stages, there is one thing in common. They will create a lot of trouble and even throw tantrums when you feed them, especially during their snack time.
This is because they often do not know when they should snack. Oft, they are so excited in their activities, games or studies, that they do not know the meaning and importance of snacking. They only know two things, either they are hungry or not hungry. Most of the times, they will skip snacks and resort to ‘two square meals’ a day.
However, these ‘square’ meals are anything but ‘square’ – meaning they will end up overeating. Kids skipping snacks does more harm than good to:
- Their health
- Functioning of the organs and other systems
- Energy levels and
- Overall well-being.
Therefore, you should follow the specific rules for snacking according to the different stages that you kids go through. This will help you select the right type of food when you order snacks online or buy it from a physical store.
Snacks for toddlers
Toddlers will never eat more at one single sitting. It is their natural instinct and you can do nothing about it to change this habit in them but can do everything to change you accordingly. This will ensure that they do not get hungry before their next meal.
Ideally, toddlers need to eat at least five to six times a day! Three of these should be large meals and two snacks in between. Get the math?
When it comes to choosing snacks for the toddler there are ideally two most common pitfalls to avoid. If you do not, then it will be hard to undo these pitfalls that include:
- Giving sweets to reward any good act or behavior is one of it. This often sends a wrong message ending up in developing an unhealthy eating pattern. They start to think and possess this idea as they grow up that desserts and sweets are somehow more valuable and better food items than fruits or any other.
- Pacifying them with a snack item just before their meal is another thing that you should avoid. This will decrease their appetite and hunger. This will make them less hungry and willing to take new foods during meals at the table.
For best results, provide them with two or three options of nutritious food items and let them choose one of them. You can try:
- Whole grain breakfast cereals with low sugar
- Small and soft fruit pieces to avoid choking
- Graham crackers
- Apple sauce
- Interestingly cut-up cheese slices and
Choose the right snack items and schedule a snack time to serve the toddlers. Make sure that it is the same time every day so that they know what to expect at a specific part of the day. This will give them a sense of control and they will know that any time and every time is not snack time.
Snacks for preschoolers
This is the age to instill control, whether it is food habits or any other. Preschoolers must be able to choose snack options that you present. They may have a strong desire for sweets but do not offer candy and cookies as snacks. Even if you stock these, keep them out of sight.
Figure out their needs and stock:
- veggies and
- whole-grain crackers with cheese
Strictly, no food should be eaten by them in front of the TV to prevent overeating.
School age kids
Choosing the right type of snacks for the school-age kids must be done according to their health. Often, these kids eat foods following their role models without understanding their importance, nutrient requirements and other factors. You, as a responsible parent should create a healthy snacking habit in them which they will take to their heart and follow on a regular basis.
The effective combinations and snacking items that your school-age kid may enjoy include:
- Low fat string cheese
- Low sugar whole grain cereal with low fat milk during breakfast
- Fruit smoothies made with yoghurt or low fat milk
- Mix of nuts with raisins
- Whole wheat pita slices
- Whole grain pretzels
- Cut-up veggies and hummus.
School going kids may also like different types of fruit slices of their choice dipped in flavored low fat yoghurt.
Snacks for teens
When it comes to teens, snacking seems to be the last thing in their to-do list. However, every teen needs to snack at least twice during the day. This is because they are engaged more in physical as well as mental activities and therefore their bodies need a lot of energy. This can be provided only through frequently timed healthy snacks.
They are engaged in sports and also have a job probably. They have enough money to spend on them, car keys at their disposal to hang out and their social calendar may seem to be ever expanding. Moreover, teens have their wishes, rights and independence and therefore things may be out of your control. You cannot police what they snack on but at the least you can encourage then to have healthy snacks.
You can do this by stocking nutritious foods at home that your child may grab along while on the go. A few of these healthy snack items include:
- Veggie sticks dipped in low fat ranch or hummus
- Low fat granola bars
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruits
- Dried fruit
- Air-popped popcorn and
- Hard-boiled eggs.
In order to prevent teen snacking to become a challenge for you when then will have independent food choices, it is better to set the right stage right at the outset. This you can do by offering the most nutritious set of snack items to them at home. This will encourage and provide them with good alternatives while you are away. They will always have something healthy to eat at home when they are struck by hunger pangs just as you wanted.
See, how difficult kids’ snacking is!