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08 June 2012

Healthy snacks for kids

Babies and toddlers have such small appetites that to meet all their dietary needs in three meals a day is impossible. This is where healthy snacks come in.

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Snacks are a wonderful and under-utilised resource by parents. We spoke to Kath Megaw, a Clinical Paediatric dietitian about the best types of snacks to give your baby and toddler.

"Babies and toddlers have such small appetites that to meet all their dietary needs in three meals a day is impossible. This is where healthy snacks come in," she says.

She adds that snacks need to be seen as part of the day's intake and should have the following characteristics:

1. They should include at least two food groups e.g. a protein food and a fruit.

2. They should be simple to prepare and easy to eat e.g. a yogurt and a banana.

3. They should be served in between mealtimes.

4. Snacks should be transportable i.e. they should be able to be packed in a container and taken to granny's house, the shops or a doctor's appointment.

5. They should be nutritious and as fresh as possible.

6. They should be weather appropriate e.g. a Fruit Icy is lovely for the warm summer months but not appropriate in cold weather.

7. They can be homemade and do not need to cost a lot of money. 

"Snacks are also lovely opportunities for babies and toddlers to learn to self-feed and also try new textures. Use snack times to introduce your baby to new foods and allow them to eat with their fingers," says Megaw.

When to serve a snack 

She advises that you can serve up to three snacks per day such as mid morning, mid afternoon and a 'last kitchen call' snack - which she says is very helpful for the mom that has a fussy eater or when your toddler is in the fussy eater stage.

"You can offer dinner and relax knowing that you will offer a small nutritious snack half an hour before bed. This avoids the “I am hungry” moment before bed."

Healthy snack ideas

Choose any two of these foods from the following groups to make up a healthy snack time as well as a liquid:

Protein

Starch

Fruit

Veg

Liquid

Biltong

-ostrich

-beef

-chicken

(organic and low salt)

Bread

Cut into

-slices

- cookie cutter

- squares

Fresh fruit cut up

Crudites

-cucumber

-carrots

Rooibos tea

Dairy yogurt

Provitas

Dried fruit

Bite sized Frozen veg, steamed

Eg: carrots, peas and corn

Water

Soya yogurt

Cracker breads

Raisins

 

Homemade ice tea

Cheese

Rice cakes

Frozen fruit

 

Milk

Peanut or other nut butter

Digestive biscuits

Fruit icy

 

Smoothies

Crushed nuts (age appropriate)

rusk

Fruit smoothie

 

 

Chicken/beef strips

Mini muffins

 

 

 

Mini meatballs

-chicken

-ostrich

-beef

 

 

 

 

Milk smoothie

 

 

 

 

So how much should you give your child? Megaw says you should offer your toddler a handful each from the two food groups you have chosen above.

 Reference:  Kath Megaw, Clinical Paediatric dietitian. Visit www.nutripaeds.co.za for more information.

(Amy Froneman, Helath24, May 2012)

(Picture: Boy eating peanut butter sandwich from Shutterstock)

Read more:
Diets for preschoolers

 

More:

ChildBody
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