Healthy snacks for babies and toddlers
Snacks between main meals can boost your child’s nutrition. There are plenty of healthy, easy snacks to choose from.
Growing babies and toddlers need extra snacks to keep them going throughout the day. Not only are they busy playing and exploring, but the average well-nourished baby increases his body weight 200% in the first 12 months and quadruples it in the first 24 months.
All this growth and discovery demands refueling, and lots of it. That’s why, as well as three well-balanced meals, older babies and toddlers need two to three nutritious snacks to keep them going.
Health benefits of snacking
From about nine months of age, your baby will be hungry for snacks. Embrace it. Snack time is the perfect opportunity for you to increase the variety in your little one’s diet.
By offering new and different foods from all the right food groups, you’re helping him take in sufficient amounts of the protein, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals he needs for healthy growth and development.
Snacking also helps to maintain steady blood sugar – so your active toddler doesn’t run out of fuel. This way, they are less likely to become distressed or upset, and should be able to maintain their concentration for longer.
When it comes to snacks for babies and toddlers, it’s all about the quality. Aim for the most nutritious snack foods that you can prepare – which often means avoiding the convenience of packaged or processed snacks.
Here are some healthy snack ideas that are easy to prepare and take with you on the day’s adventures:
- Fresh fruit, cut up into bite-sized chunks (make sure they are suitable for your baby’s age and beware of raw vegetables or hard fruits that can be choking hazards for younger babies)
- Plain yoghurt with berries or other small fresh fruit bites
- Gently steamed vegies and hummus dip
- Half an avocado
- Cubes of cheese
- Rice crackers smeared with avocado
- Hard-boiled eggs
Cultivating healthy habits
As well as providing the right snack foods, you can also cultivate healthy snacking habits from an early age too. Clearly separate snack time from playtime – sit down and enjoy a snack together instead of letting your baby or toddler eat while crawling, playing or sitting in a stroller.
Also avoid letting your little one snack in front of a screen. This helps them to focus on the food they are eating and can foster healthier eating habits down the track.
Remember, kids should eat roughly every three hours. Schedule this time into your day to establish a clear routine that your little one looks forward to.