Is it hunger? Is it a growth spurt? or Is it a lack of nutrition? Especially now, after we've been through several lockdowns, we understand that we can't just keep giving our kids snack after snack!
I know it's hard to say no to their manipulative puppy dog eyes. But shouldn't there be a slight boundary for snacks...? If you've been asking yourself the same questions, have no fear - we've done all the hard work for you. Let's condense our findings down into a few good points that'll help you navigate your way around snacking.
Should babies under 12 months snack?
Babies under 12 months shouldn't need snacks (that's what milk is for), but it's important to keep track of what you're going to be snacking on because your baby's going to insist on having it too! Don't say we didn't warn you. So think about picking something that is nutrient-dense, as this will help both of you have a healthier day while keeping your energy levels up.
Should I say no to snacking altogether?
Snacks are important! According to Katja Rowell, a children's feeding specialist, kids need snacks because they have smaller stomachs and high energy needs. But feeding your children random biscuits, cakes, and crisps can have lasting implications on their dietary needs. Don't get me wrong, we shouldn't deprive our kids of the "Gooood Stuff" but we should definitely be considerate of the amounts they have. If we don't, things will quickly spiral into the development of picky eaters, loss of appetite, and a phobia of healthy food and eating habits!
How many and how often should I be giving my child snacks?
In the end, it's all about balance. "One to two sweet treats a day can help teach kids about balance and to not see sweets as forbidden foods that become even more alluring," says Kathy Isoldi, PhD. Keep in mind that If it’s been more than 3 hours since their last meal, or if they ate very little the last time you offered them a meal, those whinges may actually be because they're hungry. That's the perfect time to offer them a nutritious snack.
What should I do if my child always wants a sweet treat?
So, if you want to go back in time and change these habits for your family we've got four easy tips to get you going.
Observe: Look at the amount of unhealthy snacks you all consume in a day.
Acknowledge: Understand the level of work that needs to be done to help you shift this behaviour of snacking.
Implement: Set yourself daily targets which refers to the number of snacks to have and then decrease them as you achieve your daily goals.
Swap: Go through all your cupboards and swap your unhealthy snacks for healthier alternatives. Nothing really beats fresh fruit and veg, but you may also consider homemade flapjacks, nut butter, and yoghurts. Be careful of any allergies before you begin to swap stuff out.
What can I be swapping my child's snacks with?
Plant-based and organic snacks for kids are flying off the shelves and here's why. They are full of natural flavours, nutrients and goodness. Look for snacks that are not processed, modified or artificial. Plus organic and plant-based snacks are better for the planet! So better start them off young!
When you introduce solids to your baby you're programming and building up their taste buds. In fact, what a child eats in its first 2 years informs its choices for life. Yikes. So it's important to introduce a wide and varied range of foods, to help your little one build a healthy relationship with food.
Offering too many snacks that are high in salts and sugars - particularly between mealtime - can affect your little one's appetite and keep your children from choosing fresh, nutritious options down the line. By introducing fresh, organic alternatives you are setting them up with a good example!
Organic doesn't have to be boring! Here are some of Mamamade's healthy organic bestsellers