Healthy methods to keep in mind when it comes to children and snacking.
Remember that children have small stomachs, so they eat less at meals than we do. With healthy snacking, your child can consume the right amount of food to keep their bodies going with the energy they need to grow, play and learn. Most small children do their best when they eat four to six times per day. Here are some suggestions from Michigan State University Extension:
- Have easy, healthy snack readily available. Good choices would be raw vegetables, fruit juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- Time snacks carefully, as to not too close to mealtime.
- Keep snacks small and let them make the decision as to whether they are still hungry. You can always give them more.
- Encourage your child to brush their teeth after snacking, especially after they eat bread, crackers and sweet foods.
- Offer snacks to satisfy hunger and skip the urge to feed a child when they are crying or upset. This can lead a child to learn to overeat for emotional reasons instead of hunger.
- Snack wisely yourself! Children learn snacking habits by watching us. Offer milk, juice or water over sugary drinks. Try to use snack foods from all areas of the food guide pyramid.
Sometime children say they are hungry when what they are really asking for is positive attention. Take the time to talk, read, play and spend quality time with your child. They will communicate when they are really hungry.