Snack proofing your home for young children
Preparing healthy snack options for young children can teach them about responsibility and the importance of a balanced diet.
Taking care of younger grandkids or kids that you’re baby-sitting can be an exciting adventure. When it comes time to feeding them, you can be caught preparing snacks all day long if you’re not prepared. So, you don’t only need to kid-proof your home, it’s a good time to snack-proof your home, too!
Unlike adults, young children need to eat on a regular schedule and, for the most part, they can’t wait to eat. They need to eat when they are hungry. As for snacking, this can take up a lot of your time. Being prepared can be helpful if you don’t want whiny, out-of-control children around. It is a good idea to learn their allergies and reactions to certain food. Then designate a spot in an easy-to-reach cupboard or the refrigerator for each child.
Tips to get snack-ready for young grandkids:
- Mark a container for each child with their name or a photograph of the child
- Teach each child that this is their snack allowance for the day. When it’s gone, it’s gone - And mean it
- In the cupboard fill the container with non-perishables, small portions of snacks, like raisins, fruit or nuts
- For the refrigerator, do small portions of perishable snacks, like cut fruit, veggies, yogurt or juice
- Designate a kid-friendly zone for water consumption, make this an exciting no-limit option.
- If a meal is refused and they finish their snacks, the only option is the same, saved meal that was refused
You can also prepare healthy snacks with the grandkids, this is a great way to get them to eat health foods. Let them help you create a snack list for the next time they visit, instill the healthy food habits. Another option is to take them on a shopping trip to buy the ingredients for healthy food and snacks. The lessons you teach your grandchildren can help them understand that making healthy food choices a positive experience.
By providing a set location for snacks, allowing self-regulated snacking while teaching the concept of limited snack, you are on your way to teaching grandchildren about choice, limits and self-control. Everything takes time, but this way you will build a foundation for healthy food choices and at the same time save yourself from constantly catering to the dietary demands of younger children. For healthy snack ideas, visit healthfinder.gov or visit myplate.gov for kids. Visit other health and nutrition sites at Michigan State University Extension.