Most resources recommend people eat several healthy snacks along with three good meals a day. If you have a young child you will soon learn that she probably likes to snack. I think it is important to serve healthy snacks. For more information on snacks, please refer to the following topics:
I tend to think of a snack as a mini meal. I want my son to still eat well at his meals but if he has a meal where he doesn't eat well then I feel better knowing he had a healthy snack earlier in the day to compensate. I find that I eat much healthier snacks now since I tend to have the same snack my toddler eats. I generally only serve organic snacks.
My son makes a meal out of his favorite snacks on preschool days since he is suppose to take finger type foods. He tells me every week what to pack for his lunch: yogurt,cheese stick, peanut butter crackers, fruit (usually a cut-up apple), raisons, chocolate milk, and 100% juice. And every week his lunchbox comes back empty meaning he ate it all. They send home whatever he doesn't finish.
I recently started offering my 2 1/2 year old snacks even after he finishes his dinner. He may say he is finished with his dinner but then if I offer him a pear, he'll eat say three fourths of the pear and say he is finished. Then if I offer him a yogurt, he'll eat all of the yogurt. This is after eating at least some of his real dinner. I think it is like how you can always find room for dessert. My 2 1/2 year old may be full of chicken pot pie but he can still find room for a pear and a yogurt. (To Top)
Initially, the snacks that I felt were "safe" for my son to eat when he was learning to chew were more to help him learn to eat finger foods rather than for nutritional value. When my son was just starting to eat finger food, I liked the HappyBaby Organic Puffs. I liked the fact that the puffs seemed to melt in his mouth. He also loved the HappyMelts organic yogurt snacks by HappyBaby. I like the HappyBaby products since they usually use whole grains, have less sodium, less sugar, and of course are organic.
Once my son could chew better he enjoyed eating really soft pear that I would cut into very small pieces. You could always cook a pear or apple to make it soft but my son tended to like the fruit un-cooked and so I would just wait until the pear was ripe enough. (To Top)
My Favorite Snacks
(Anything listed below, I serve organic.)
Cereal - We've started a new tradition to have a small bowl of dried cereal before bed. Our son usually has a bowl of 365 Organic O's (Whole Food's Generic Cereal) and Gorilla Munch (Nature's Path Organic cereal) along with a glass of milk while Daddy reads him his bedtime story. Bags of dried cereal are always an easy snack to take on outings.
Cheese Sticks - My son loves cheese sticks and they are great to take in the car as they make a little mess compared to crackers or cereal. My son likes the Horizon mozzarella cheese sticks.
Cookies like animal crackers or graham crackers - I usually try to limit the number of sweets but occasionally I'll give this as a snack.
Dried Fruit - You may only think of raisons but my son likes all different kinds of dried fruit. I like "Just Cherries" dried fruit although dried fruit can be expensive. It is nice to take on trips though. I like the dried fruit without any sugar added.
Drinks such as 100% Juice with no added sugar, milk, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, or a supplement drink. Please refer to the "Whole Milk" article for more information about when it is generally recommended to give your baby milk. My son likes Horizon's chocolate milk boxes. My son went through a period where he didn't want to drink much milk and so serving him chocolate milk was a way he learned to love milk again. My son's doctor also recommends my son drink at least one serving of a supplement drink like Pediasure since she thinks he needs to gain more weight. I prefer to serve my son PediaSmart, an organic supplement drink. I don't like the fact that the number one ingredient in the drink is sugar rather than milk but it does have a lot of vitamins and minerals and it is the only organic supplement drink I'm aware of. (Refer to Smoothies below for super easy and healthy drinks.) My daughter didn't love the PediaSmart drinks at first and so I would mix it with the normal water mix and then add baby yogurt drink to it. Or she liked when I made it with orange juice. Some kids like milk/orange juice combinations if you have a kid that doesn't like to drink milk.
Fruit - Apples, bananas, pears, oranges, grapes, blueberries, really any type of fruit. When my son was still learning to chew well, pears were my favorite as they were really soft. Since my son suffered from constipation we didn't do a lot of bananas. I would cut the skin off the fruit to help avoid choking. I introduced oranges and grapes later and made sure the pieces were really small. I actually would de-skin the grapes initially to avoid choking and it really wasn't that hard to do. As a special treat we sometimes buy fresh blueberries and/or raspberries as usually they are pretty expensive and my son can easily finish a container of blueberries in a day if I let him.
Fruit Cup - I just started making this as it is a little more work but a fun treat and great to send to preschool or a special picnic. I simply used apples, oranges, bananas and blueberries. I poured some orange juice on top and it kept the apples from turning brown for at least a day. I don't think I'd keep it much longer than a day. For a really special treat we put a little natural whipped cream on top.
Homemade Treat - I occasionally will make a homemade treat such as cookies or muffins. My son loves bran muffins and I like to make them because the main ingredient is bran cereal. So my son enjoys the special treat and I feel good about him eating the muffins. My family recipe coming soon.
Peanut Butter Crackers - If I'm at home, I'll make them although my son prefers the pre-made peanut butter crackers. He likes the LateJuly Organic Mini Peanut Butter crackers the best. These are great to take in the car for a treat.
Check with your doctor as to when it is safe to introduce peanut butter. Our doctor recommended to wait until our son was around one year old.
Popcorn - Please serve HOMEMADE popcorn NOT microwave popcorn! There are a lot of reports about the dangers of chemicals found in microwave popcorn! It only takes a few minutes to make homemade popcorn. I use a three quart pan and fill the bottom with an organic cooking oil. I like Spectrum's Canola oil with omega 3's. I put enough oil in to cover about a row or so of popcorn. I then turn the stove on high, put three kernels in the pot, and put a lid on. Once those three kernels pop, I know the oil is hot enough. I remove those three kernels and I put the rest of the popcorn I want to make in the pot. Once the popping slows, usually a few minutes later I have a wonderful pot of fresh popcorn. I usually divide it in half and make half with a little melted butter and salt and half with a teaspoon or so of sugar and salt. Both are wonderful combinations! Once you make it you'll wonder why microwave popcorn was even invented. I personally will no longer eat microwave popcorn.
Smoothies - I love making any type of smoothie as I always have the ingredients on hand. For a non-blender version, add apple sauce, pureed vegetable (sweet potatoe/ squash you could use baby food) mix and then add orange juice and mix with a fork or spoon until you reach your desired consistency. Both my 3 year old and 1 year old love to drink these drinks with a straw. (I'm basically making drinks like Ella's Kitchen.) If you have time to make a smoothie with a blender I like to use a combination of fresh fruit or frozen fruit. Frozen fruit works well. I love adding frozen bananas as it gives it a really creamy flavor like ice cream. When I have bananas starting to go bad, I cut it up in small pieces like an ice cube put it in a plastic bag and freeze it so I always have some ready for a smoothie. I just put about a cup to two cups of fruit in the blender and add yogurt or milk to cover the fruit. You can add more or less liquid depending on how thick you want it. You could add some additional ingredients like flaxseed oil, whey protein powder, cinnamon, turmeric, or even peanut butter. The article on the benefit of flaxseed oil, cinnamon, and turmeric is coming soon. See Video below.
Yogurt - At first it took my toddler several attempts to eat yogurt as he didn't like it and now he can't get enough of it. He eats it at least once a day. My favorite is Stonyfield Organic yogurt. They make baby, toddler, and kid versions. My son likes the adult flavors although I occasionally still buy the baby or toddler one to get the whole milk with added fat since his doctor thinks he needs to gain more weight.
If you have trouble getting your child to eat healthy snacks or food in general, try some of the tips below. Please see our "Pancake Shapes" video - one way to make food fun.
Set a Good Example - There have been so many times that my son didn't want anything to eat so I got myself a pear and next thing I know he wants some too. I also say things like, "I love apples" or "I can't wait to eat meatloaf and peas." My 2 year old usually always says, "Me too" when I make a comment like this.
Make it Fun - Use a cookie cutter to cut up a sandwich or slice of cheese. Or use food to decorate, like raisons on top of peanut butter. You can use natural food colorings like those from India Tree for a special occasion. Or if you really want to impress your kids, try a theme lunch such as making a picture out of food, giving all circle type items, and giving lots of choices.
Use Dip - My son loves to dip things. Once I knew it was safe for my son to eat peanut butter I loved serving it on the side for him to dip apples, oranges, bananas or a slice of whole wheat bread.
Let Them Help - Most kids want to help and if you let them help prepare the meal or snack usually they'll eat more. If making muffins my son loves to pour the ingredients after I measure them into the bowl and mix everything up.
Interrupt Play Time - Many kids are so busy playing that they forget they are hungry or thirsty. It is important to remember to ask them if they want something to eat or drink and/or just make something and present it.
Give a Choice - Most kids like to have choices. I always give two choices both of which I'd be happy with my son picking. Would you like a pear or an apple? Do you want blueberry or strawberry yogurt?
Keep Trying - Just like when introducing new foods to a baby, I find you need to keep offering new food. Eventually, they may decide they like it. It took my son awhile to decide he likes crunchy carrots but now he thinks they are fun to chew. He also went through a period of not wanting milk except in cereal and before bed. But after consistently offering it at meal time (but not forcing it since he did get a lot of calcium through cheese and yogurt) he now will drink it at meals, especially if chocolate milk is offered. He still prefers juice (100% juice which I mix with water) but he will now also drink milk.
Please refer to the "Picky Eater" article for more information on getting your child to eat better.
Where to Buy
I try to serve my family organic products. Fortunately, more and more organic foods are showing up at the standard grocery stores; but if you truly want to go organic, then Whole Foods Market may be the solution for you...at least it was for me! If you have the ability to buy at a store like Whole Foods, which is focused on organic products, the prices may be more competitive than buying organic products at a standard grocery store.
What I love about shopping at Whole Foods is that you do not have to search for organic products basically everything is organic, local or at least contains “natural” ingredients. Generally I feel confident that most things I buy at Whole Foods is "healthy" and doesn’t contain some of the ingredients to avoid like “high fructose corn syrup” or “genetically manufactured” both of which are found in most products you buy at a standard grocery store. I can still buy treats, even baked goods occasionally and feel confident that at least it is made with “natural” ingredients and usually contains whole wheat products rather than bleached white flour. (To Top)
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