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While you and I can easily tolerate the 5-6 hours between meals without snacking, your little ones can’t! Usually, you figure this out when you see their behavior change. Hungry little kids are naughtier! They have a difficult time listening and following instructions, and they just can’t keep it together emotionally. It’s very important to give your children that extra “fuel” between meals to keep their brains, bones, and muscles growing, healthy and strong.
The term “fuel” should be explained here. Chips and cookies (2 items we often associate with snacks) are bad fuel. They’ll give your little one a bout of energy – which technically is fuel, but without the nutrients to sustain that energy, it’s bad fuel. Cookies and chips are packed with preservatives and added sugar, and they just don’t have the nutrients that growing children need.
Here is what you can do to provide your little ones with good fuel!
- Fiber, fiber, fiber! Pack fresh fruits and vegetables with a string cheese. Researchers have found that children who snacked on a mix of vegetables and cheese needed much fewer calories to feel full than those who snacked on plain old potato chips.
- Make healthy food look fun! This way your child will be excited to eat it!
- Smoothies made with fresh fruits and vegetables are a great snack for your little ones.
- Make a milkshake with a frozen banana, milk, and peanut butter. (Use whole milk for kids ages 1 to 2 and low-fat milk for older kids.)
- Serve guacamole with whole-grain chips. Make this snack even more fun when you slice the avocado and let your kids mash it.
- Cut bananas into four pieces, dip them in plain yogurt, and roll in crushed whole-grain graham crackers. Serve it then or freeze it for later.
Water should be the main drink served to kids at snack times. This keeps them hydrated.
These are just some simple ways to make sure your little ones are getting the right amount of calories and nutrients in their diet! Keep bad fuel out of the house. This way your little one will be less tempted by it – you’ll prevent a lot of tantrums this way.
Written by: Renee Schessler