Mama to three wonderful girls, H (9-2-04), A (8-23-07), and Q(4-24-11, our Easter baby). Married to D since (6-3-00).
That said, I make sure I buy things I am comfortable with them eating and I don't make snacks -- they are in charge of their own snacks after about age 3. At 5 and 9 this isn't really an issue anymore, they can both use the microwave and a knife. They know that most snack foods are on one shelf in the pantry and one shelf in the fridge, plus the fruit basket. I used to have to think about how snacks were packaged and such, but now I don't
For meals, DH or I cook. If they don't like it, they can get themselves a healthy alternative, but neither of us will disturb our hot meal to fix an alternative. NIcely enough, this means that they could make a sandwich by the time they were about 3 or 4.
Editing here - I really didn't read the post properly before replying and realized it wasn't that relevant. Time to go to bed! Our baby is 7 months old and eating some solids as well as breastfeeding. Once he is older we plan on having lots of healthy snacks around (chopped veggies, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, etc). I have never been able to eat much in one sitting and do better with smaller meals more often so am prepared to feed him the same way. If he is hungry just before dinner I think I would give him a healthy snack (low blood sugar is no fun!) and reduce that food group during the meal. Not sure if that is any help... ok, now it's time for bed!
So I serve food in the kitchen every two to three hours, at regular times, and I decide what the meal is, while allowing for everyone's personal likes and dislikes. We eat breakfast at 8, a snack of fruit or veggies at 10, lunch at 12, a starchy snack at 3, dinner at five, and milk right before bed, at just before 7. When I serve the food, they can eat or not eat, to please themselves. If they don't eat, I don't worry; there'll be more food in two hours. If they ask for food at other times, I gently refuse, and we get involved in some other activity.
I leave water out for everyone to help themselves, in between times.
I think a blanced dinner is more important than the fruit snacks. As we don't have control what she eats at school or her Mom's house, we try to make sure she eats healthy with us.
On the weekends, she will typically get a morning and afternoon snack of fruits and/or a peice of cheese.
I feel learning to eat right is a good thing to start all along so it isn't as hard as an adult and trying to correct years of bad habit. I struggle with my weight a lot, and don't want my kids to have to, so snacking all day is just not feasible in our house.
Proud Single Mama, Birth & Postpartum Doula
Student, Aspiring CNM
DD ~ 1/7/09 DS ~ 9/22/10
I have a shelf with a tub filled with fruit leather, baggies of pretzels, nuts , dried fruit etc. If they get the munchies they are responsible to feed it.
I have a cut off time in the afternoon, about 2 hours before dinner. And they respect it.
As for dinner et al I give them a choice or ability to help in the construction.
If they do not want to eat they are still required to stay at the table until everyone else is done.
Seems to work for us.
We are very relaxed about food as far as timing, but I'm very picky about what I buy at the grocery store. I have fruit and nuts and such for them to pick at, and they make quesadillas and all sorts of things for themselves.
Fwiw, my little ones eat lots of little things all day long, and my older ones eat larger amounts less frequently and they are all healthy weight and overall very healthy.
He is usually not hungry in the morning, something that always results in a "starving" child when lunchtime comes at school. (I usually pack a little bag of something he can nibble at in the first recess at school, just to keep him alive until lunch. (They start school at 8.30, first recess is 10 and lunch is a little past 11AM. )
The days he is homeschooled (we have a "shared solution", where he goes 3,5 days to school and homeschools 1,5 days a week.) he grazes much of the day. I love eating a familydinner, so I try to talk about how important that is to me. And most days he will join me (and often his father, whom we invite to dinner several times a week) for dinner.
He is allowed to snack whenever. If it is a few minutes until dinner or another shared meal, I ask him if he can wait for that meal. Most times he is ok with that. If not, then he can eat what he wants.
I try to limit sweets alittle, but since that is not something we have much of in the house, this is rarely a problem. IF we do have some leftover sweets, he usually eats a little and then I ask if it`s ok with him to save the rest for another time. Other than that, he can eat what he wants when he wants. He has a shelf with different snacktype foods he can choose from, and also fruit/veggies/yoghurt in the fridge.
I also do not want to create any eating issue. I will not coerce my son into eating - say, but praising him. I will not punish my son or set m own arbatrary rules to his personal body clock.
I have accepted it - this is what we do.
Healthy things of course. I am not talking about snacking on crisps all day. We get all our 5 food groups, and sure, some chocolate too ...I just always have a plate out for him and healthy things made and ready to go (like pasta made the night before in the fridge) for him if desired.
Just because you snack all day or graze all day doesn't mean its 'unhealthy' or a 'bad habit' or that it teaches your children to eat crap food. ...and if thats what your toddler desires (and most do - human nature, can't beat it ), then it can at least prevent some eating issues and food issues later in adult life if you respect their need to listen to their body and trust them to nourish it in the way it was intended. Learning to eat right starts with learning to listen to our own bodies and respecting them. My son can not tell me when I am hungry, what I should eat and when...I certainly could not do the same for him!
As for other snacking, I generally make up a veggie/fruit plate with dip and cheese, which I put in the play room (or whatever room they're in) so that they can help themselves as and when. Sometimes, I will make up a plate of crackers or sandwiches or something instead of the fruit, but there is always something in the room with them. Today, they had cold pasta (the big rigatoni pieces) and cubes of cheese.
Mama to DS (6/07) , DD (6/09) , and DD (07/12) ..