Snacks and the Toddler... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 06-08-2011, 09:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Just wondering what people's thoughts were on frequency/necessity of snacking for toddlers.  I have 14 month old twins.  They are very good eaters, and we have been doing a breakfast (around 7), a lunch (around 11:30), a glass of milk (around 2:00) and dinner around 5:30.


However, an experienced mom friend was saying that she thought the girls would be happier with a small snack morning and afternoon (total of 5 meals a day).  I've been pretty anti-snack so far.  Pretty much the only time snacks are given is to placate the girls when we're out running errands.  I'm not a huge fan of the constant eating, and it seems that snacks tend to be lower quality food than sit down meals (easy to reach for the peanut butter crackers, the bunny crackers, etc.).


Am I crazy?  The girls are literally up only about 9 hours a day (sleeping about 12 during the night, with total naps of anywhere from 2 - 3 hours a day) -- so going to 5 meals would mean they are eating every other hour.

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#2 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 07:38 AM
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My kid (18 months) is a snacker, and it tends to keep him on a more even keel--less prone to meltdowns and crankiness. But there are lots of healthier items you can give as snacks. Some of my go-to snacks: string cheese, cut fruit, breadsticks and other savory/low-salt crackers, peas, corn (I keep bags of frozen peas & corn in the freezer & microwave small portions as needed). 

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#3 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 07:52 AM
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Snacks in our house are pretty healthy -- leftovers from previous meals, fruit, veggies, hummus, etc. -- when you get used to snacking, it gets easier to plan ahead so you don't need to rely on crackers or junk...

We do snack often around here. Breakfast at 10am (late riser!), lunch around noon or 1, snack at 4pm, dinner around 6pm, snack again around 9pm, and quite often a couple other small snacks thrown in between, plus DS nurses throughout the day still... so it ends up being every 1-3 hours.

There is some evidence that eating smaller, more frequent meals is healthier in terms of maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood sugar levels stable, better digestion, more consistent energy levels, etc. And I have health issues that require me to eat frequently so I was sort of used to this long before I had a toddler. But yeah, sometimes it's a pain, especially when you are spending the day out of the house and don't have enough portable (healthy!) food on hand to bring along, or if you just don't have the time to prepare snacks at home...

At 14mos though, DS was barely eating 2 bites of food a day. You might find your girls continue to do fine with 3 meals a day, or you may find as they get a bit older & more active, that they need a few snacks too. I was astonished when I started hanging out with my current circle of moms, because they fed their kids SOOO often, even compared to how often *I* ate! But then when DS started nursing less and running around more, I started having to do the same thing. If your girls are happy & healthy, I'm sure you're fine, and you can adapt when/if necessary!!

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#4 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 08:14 AM
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I think it depends on the toddler, some like to eat frequently and some don't. My DS gets 3 meals and 2 "snacks" (7am, 9am, 11:30am, 3:00pm, then 6:15ish more or less). The snacks are scheduled into his daycare routine. I think he would do okay without the am snack but I do think the 3pm snack helps DS get through the sometimes cranky late afternoon time until dinner. For snacks he eats mostly fruit, rice crackers, plantain chips and coconut milk yogurt (dairy allergy).

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#5 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 08:17 AM
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We do a lot of snacking around here.  I have a nearly 3 yo and a 22 month old.  I also have an older child who will sometimes snack with the littles, and sometimes won't- she's less irritable when she does though! 


5:30 or 6am snack before breakfast-usually some fresh fruit or yogurt- something mindless and easy

8am breakfast

10:15 or so is another snack- usually something with a veggie and a protein steamed carrot sticks and hummus for example

12:00 lunch (the biggest meal of the day here)

2:30 snack- half a sandwich, a hardboiled egg, whatever is handy- again, I keep it full of protein

4:30 or 5:00 is dinner 

7:00 is another snack


Also, there are snacks always available like cheese cubes, yogurt tubes, fresh fruit, pita crisps with hummus.  They know to ask for something if they are hungry, and most days they will be hungry sometime in there even with all the snacking they do.  Somewhere around 18 months or so my kids switch from mostly nursing to solids for most of their calories. At 14 months, it was hit or miss whether or not they ate solids at all in any given day. 

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#6 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 02:26 PM
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Snackers here as well.  We do breakfast at 7am and then a snack around 10am.  Lunch at 12 and another snack at 230/3 and dinner at 5-6.  Sometimes there is an evening snack in there as well depending on how well they eat at dinner.


Snacks don't have to be unhealthy.  I keep peeled/segmented oranges in baggies in the fridge so they are easy to grab.  Any kind of fruit is pretty easy-we do melon/banana/strawberries/grapes/etc and sometimes use yogurt to dip it in.  My nearly 4 yr old loves broccoli as a snack.  We also do thick slices of cheese/rolled up lunch meat with cream cheese and a lot of other things.  You really just have to plan ahead if you want to do healthier snacks and make sure you have them prepared so it doesn't take a lot of time.  I even take snacks with us doing errands and just bring a lunchbox so that we are less likely to do junk snacks.

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#7 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 03:00 PM
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My kids NEED to snack.  My three year old has some pretty major behavioral issues if he's not at least given the option of eating something every two hours or so.  Snacks don't have to be unhealthy-a piece of fruit, veggies and hummus, a half a pita with spinach and cheese, applesauce, whatever.  He gets junky stuff occasionally, especially when we are out and about and I didn't pack anything from home. 

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#8 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 03:02 PM
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My toddlers enjoy snacks, and they don't have to be unhealthy.
Besides fruits and veggies for snacking, you can puree leftover veggies with olive oil and garlic for dipping pita or other things.
Cheese, pickles, and hard boiled eggs are other favorites.

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#9 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 04:42 PM
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I wondered about this same thing when my son was about your twins' age. He ate 3 largish meals and never snacked except for milk between naps. I wondered if this was normal because you always hear about toddlers snacking and not eating regular meals.


Now that my son is 21 months and naps only once a day, he definitely needs his snacks. He still eats pretty solid 3 meals a day but I find that he gets cranky before lunch and dinner if he hasn't had a little something in between. We usually do simple snacks like those already mentioned--fruit, pickles, etc.


So maybe  your twins will grow into snacks, or not. :) I would just roll with what's working for you.

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#10 of 17 Old 06-09-2011, 05:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice and suggestions on snack ideas!  I do admit to getting in a rut with their food (and worry about it being too fruit heavy -- we joke about the girls being dairaholics and fruitiarians)  so its always nice to think about how to mix things up. 

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#11 of 17 Old 06-11-2011, 05:34 AM
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I'm with the other mom that said her kids need to snack. Mine DD (15 months) get very fussy for something to eat between meals so we do a mid morning and mid afternoon snack. If they aren't having weight gain problems and don't act like they are hungry then i'd say you are fine to leave it as it is. My dd is only 18 pounds so i feel like constantly feeding her is for the best. I'm also guilty of probably giving her WAY to much fruit though.

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#12 of 17 Old 06-11-2011, 06:17 AM
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My child at 19months just does not eat a whole lot and he is very skinny for his age and length, plus his main food intake happens to be around 3pm. We offer food every 2-3 hrs during the day, and we don't really distinguish between meals and snacks.


Yesterday his meals looked like this (which was a great food day for him)

7.30 2 strawberries for breakfast
9.30 a 1/2bagel with butter

11.30 1/2banana, and some noodles - all cold

2.30 raisins, 1/4lb tofu and another 1/4 bagel

5.30 craisins, more pasta, 1 yogurt with honey, 1 strawberry


The day before:

no breakfast

10am some grapes

11.30am some noodles, a few raisins

3 more grapes

5.30 1/2  yogurt with some honey


Have I mentioned that we are in a no-vegetable phase? If he eats less during the day, he nurses more at night, plus he gets more tired and more easily cranky and tantrummy during the day.








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#13 of 17 Old 06-12-2011, 02:47 PM
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I think it depends on the kid.  Some adults are happy eating 3 square meals a day and nothing in between... many of us do better with four or five small meals throughout the day, or one or two big meals and a bunch of smaller snacks. (Especially those of us with blood sugar problems.  I have persistent hypoglycemia and while I find it to be a bit of a chore, I know I am MUCH healthier when I eat small things throughout the day.)  I don't see why kids should be any different.


My son has 3 regular meals a day with me-- a toddler portion of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner-- and then 2 schedule snacks aside from that.  Fruit is the most common thing we snack on, but he's also happy to accept a bit of nut butter on healthy-ish bread or crackers, yogurt, some dry granola (a long time favorite snack of his), cubes of tofu, or what have you.


Oh yeah, and at 14 months, my son was barely interested in solids at all.  He only really started eating a significant portion at meal OR snack time when we totally dayweaned at 19 months, and he still doesn't eat a ton on most days.  I didn't offer him snacks at set times before that, though I did carry around a couple of small things (clementines were his favorite for the longest time) in case he seemed to get hungry.

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#14 of 17 Old 06-14-2011, 10:14 AM
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On the go we  found we really like the fruit and vegetable pouches (sometimes all it is, is applesauce) but it is easy to carry with us and well, worth the added expense. (though we tend to buy them on sale). DS is 18 months but still likes smooth textures.


He snacks A LOT. but he is a very on the move sort of guy, so just doesn't have the attention span to sit and eat for a long period of time. Breakfast for us is yogurt and bagel/cream cheese or toast/jam, he will likely want some fruit an hour or so later (like most of a banana), lunch - if he is awake for it - is whatever we are eating, like fried rice, sandwich, etc. then he gets a snack upon wake up, like apple straws or more fruit, or one of the above mentioned pouches, dinner is whatever we have, which varies greatly, then he snacks until bedtime. If we are eating with my parents, which we do most nights, this is often dry cereal, fruit pouches, more yogurt . . .sometimes a cookie or ice cream. Yes, it is often all of these. To be honest he doesn't eat a whole lot of the cereal; mostly he shares with the dog :)

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#15 of 17 Old 06-14-2011, 10:50 AM
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We also like the fruit and veggie pouches for on the go, though Daniel isn't always so proficient at holding it and not squirting it all over himself. We do string cheese, super whole wheat crackers with no sugar or salt, and the pouches. Daniel is also one of those kids who is really unhappy in stores, so I rely upon snacks heavily.

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#16 of 17 Old 06-14-2011, 10:18 PM
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My son needs to snack. We always make it healthy. Given how much he eats, I cannot imagine not snacking and having to prepare 5-6 meals a day!


After breakfast, he has a "snack jar" that has multi, whole grain cereal in it that he can take at his leisure. Then he naps and wakes up to lunch. After lunch, he has a snack before dinner.

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#17 of 17 Old 06-15-2011, 10:19 AM
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DS is a pretty busy little guys so snacks are a must here. We also do the fruit & veggie pouches or "chows" as he calls them. I agree they are great for on the go. We also do yogurt, bananas, cheese, tortillas or pitas with hummus.

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