Toddlers have small tummies so eating small meals and snacks will help them grow properly and get the nutrients they need.
Healthy snacks fill nutritional gaps the children need. Snacks are good way to offer foods from the Myplate food plan that your toddler doesn’t eat at a meal.
Younger kids need to eat three meals and at least two snacks a day. Older kids need to eat three meals and at least one snack a day. They may need two snacks if they are going through a growth spurt or are very physically active.
A rule of thumb is to offer snacks a few hours after one meal ends and about one to hours before the next meal begins. If snacks are planned, coordinated with meals and served consistently at regularly scheduled times, kids are more likely to be a healthy weight.
Allowing kids to “graze” all day may cause some kids to overeat. In fact, kids ages 2 through 18 are getting more calories than needed in a day from unhealthy snacking and that can lead to an unhealthy weight.
What is a healthy snack?
Scheduled snack time can be a good time to offer food from the food groups that your toddler did not eat at meal time.
For example, a healthy morning snack can have a ¼ cup to ½ cup from the grain group, ½ cup fruit and 1 ounce from protein group. SNACK IDEA: ½ whole wheat tortilla with a tablespoon of peanut butter with sliced fruit. Roll up the tortilla and slice like a pin wheels.
For the afternoon snack try ¼ cup vegetable and ½ cup dairy. SNACK IDEA: ¼ cup carrot sticks and 1 ounce mozzarella cheese stick.
Be creative when planning snacks and kids involved. It’s cheaper to buy vegetables whole and cut them up ahead of time than to buy them already cut. Try to avoid too many processed snack foods. It can be expensive and full of empty calories.
More Snack Ideas:
• Whole-grain cereal and fat-free milk
• Fat-free plain yogurt and fresh berries
• Whole wheat pita and hummus
•Apple or pear slices topped with low-fat peanut butter
• Plain microwave popcorn or air popped popcorn with parmesan cheese.
• Fruit kabobs
***Pregnant and nursing moms benefit from the same healthy snack foods. Make your snacks count by avoiding highly processed and sweet snacks.
NAP SACC-Healthy Eating and Active Play
-Cheri Blucher, RD – NAP SACC Nutritionist and WIC Nutrition Education Coordinator