Five quick and healthy snacks toddlers love!
Getting enough food into your toddler can be a surprisingly frustrating task. They have small mouths and the younger children have limited ability to chew, so everything has to be small enough to eat without choking. Paradoxically, toddlers will get cranky if you miss a snack time but they will also go on a hunger strike if there is even something slightly wrong with what you’ve put in front of them.
There are many convenience foods that attempt to provide relief from this difficulty by providing shelf stable food in bite sized portions that kids love to eat. The problem of course is that these products are shelf stable and appealing to kids because they are chock full of sugar, vegetable oil and junk that health conscious parents would rather their children not eat.
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Here are a few ideas to help you make some easy and healthy choices for feeding your little ones!
It may seem like an obvious choice but many parents overlook fruit because in the moment they do not want to do the preparation work. Of course there is some work to chopping down a large piece of fruit for your kids, especially if you are not used to spending much time in the kitchen.
Fruit is a great choice however because in moderation it can provide good micro nutrients in a sweet package that children will naturally like.
To help alleviate the frustration of having to get out the cutting board and prepare something at every snack time, try to batch your work when you are doing other meals and save the pre-cut fruit in a leftover container in the fridge.
Olives may seem like an unusual choice for children, but many kids will quite enjoy them if you give them a chance. Olives are great because you don’t have to do much work to prepare them and they will last for a long time in the refrigerator. A downside to this snack is that they can be high in sodium but that is not much of a problem if they are consumed in moderation.
A great benefit of eating olives is that they are a high fat snack and a good balance to most snack foods for kids which tend to be overly carbohydrate heavy.
So many of the modern convenience food garbage that you may be used to consuming yourself and giving to your children is just a corruption of perfectly good food components. How many cheese flavored products are there on the shelves in the supermarket that are loaded up with sugar and other junk?
Skip all the processing and go straight to the source with basic cheese cut into bite sized pieces. Like olives, cheese is a great alternative to the typical carbohydrate heavy snack foods and most kids love it. The only downside to cheese is that it can cause some gastrointestinal trouble, but moderate consumption is fine for most people.
Get creative with your leftovers and be conscious of making extra food for snacks when cooking. You can cut leftover meats and vegetables into small pieces and quickly heat them in the microwave.
Another good leftover that kids tend to do well with is pasta. When selecting pasta for a meal, pick rotini or bowtie or some other variety that is easy for children to pick up. When cooking a regular meal, you can easily set aside a small amount in a leftover container with some salt and oil for an excellent snack.
Yogurt and Kefir
Yogurt is a great high protein snack that most kids like. It can also be a good substitute for milk. A pitfall to watch out for when giving yogurt to your kids though is all the added sugar and other junk that food companies add for flavoring. Spending a few moments reading the labels at the grocery store can help to avoid this problem.
If you are concerned about the mess that your child will make with yogurt, then you can try to give them yogurt as a drink. Yogurt can be blended with a variety of other foods your kids like for a quick smoothie that they can drink from a straw cup. You can also try kefir which is similar to yogurt but less thick and easier to drink. An additional advantage to kefir is that it usually has a greater quantity and variety of probiotics which can help with digestion.
A common thread you’ll notice in these choices is that they tend to be simple. Health issues aside, one of the bad side effects of processed foods is that they lead you to think your children won’t eat something basic. The same problem is present in parenting blogs that show perfectly prepared and arranged snacks that nobody actually has time to make.
The reality is that with minimal planning and effort you can make good nutritious snacks for your children.
What’s your child’s favorite snack?