Healthy snacking is a great way to introduce toddlers to nutritious habits. Toddlers are not able to sit and have three balanced meals. Instead of insisting on the traditional three meals a day, it makes sense to introduce the concept of having six small meals on a daily basis. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included in this plan, but so are three snacks. One snack is enjoyed after each meal, keeping the healthy, energy-giving calories coming at regular intervals. Snacks are most nutritious when they incorporate more than one food group.
Parents should think of combinations like serving a protein with a fruit or a carbohydrate with a vegetable. This ensures that toddlers receive a healthy mix of nutrients throughout the day.
Here are some ideas for healthy snack ideas for your toddler.
One nutritious snack that is great to have on hand for young children is cheese. It’s loaded with protein and it’s also a kid-friendly favorite. Get creative by cutting out pieces of cheese with a cookie cutter or spear cheese cubes on a pretzel stick. Serve cheese with slices of apples, chunks of melon or grapes. Another great cheese and fruit pairing is cottage cheese with pineapples or nectarine. Kids love the contrasting flavors in these combinations, and the sweetness of the fruit usually satisfies cravings.
Breakfast During the Day
Serving a second breakfast can also be a nutritional hit. Consider a scrambled egg and a triangle of whole grain toast as an afternoon snack. Another favorite is a multigrain waffle. Smear it with some peanut butter for a dose of protein, as long as a pediatrician has approved introducing peanuts to the toddler’s diet.
Salsa or other Healthy Dips
Salsa and other dips are healthier than most parents think – particularly if they are of the low fat variety. As a plus, kids love to dip foods of all kinds, making snack time fun as well as healthy. Introduce hummus with assorted fruits and vegetables for dipping. Try cucumber slices and bell peppers along with carrots, celery and sugar snap peas. Kids love the color of cherry tomatoes and they taste great with low fat ranch dip. ?
Low fat yogurt makes an excellent dip for graham crackers and fresh fruit. Actually, yogurt is an ideal addition to any snack repertoire because it’s simply saturated with essential calcium. Parents can make a yummy parfait using yogurt, berries and granola. It’s a quick and easy snack that is as healthy as it is delicious. For a fun, do-ahead yogurt snack, dip a banana in yogurt, roll it in granola or another crushed cereal and then place it in the freezer. On a hot day, this banana pop is the ideal treat. Yogurt is also the perfect ingredient to incorporate into a smoothie. Get out the blender and mix up the yogurt with some ice, milk and fruit like bananas and berries for a tasty snack the whole family will love.?
When there isn’t time for a homemade snack, make sure to have some nutritious, store-bought alternatives on hand. Some of the best are frozen no sugar added popsicles. These are great for satisfying a sweet tooth and still packing in a nutritious punch.
Whole Grain Tortilla Chips
Whole grain tortilla chips can also be a solid snack when they are paired with some leftover chicken, fresh salsa and cheese. Many stores also carry varieties of apple chips and carrot chips that are nutritious and can be dipped in everything from peanut butter to hummus or yogurt.
Life with a toddler can sometimes be hectic and unpredictable. When the family is on the go, it’s important to be prepared with snacks that travel well. It’s a great idea to keep a flexible, portable cooler on hand that is easy to transport and is perfectly sized to carry dips and snacks that require refrigeration. Traveling with snacks is easier than most parents anticipate. Toddlers have tiny tummies, and this means that they don’t require large amounts of food. This makes it easy to transport their compact snacks, even for a full day. This will make up for any fast food or other less than nutritious meals that they have on the road.
Nicole Sullivan writes for Organic Baby Nook, an organic baby products guide for earth-conscious parents. Visit the Organic Baby Nook site to find certified-organic baby products, including baby clothing for anyone concerned about going organic.