Tips to make your kid’s snack time healthy and fun
Snack time can be healthy. Yes, you read it right. When your kid’s belly is rumbling and you are stuck in a snack rut, these tips will help you make your kid snack smart. But first, let’s start with understanding more about snacks.
What are snacks?
Snacks are bite-sized portions of food that are eaten between main meals. The main features of snacks are:
- They need to be good for your health, convenient to carry and easy to prepare.
- They cannot substitute main meals but act as supplements and boost the nutrition provided by your main meals.
Choose snacks according to your kid’s requirements:
The best snacks are the ones that are planned keeping the age and requirements of your growing baby in mind. The snacks that you plan should be nutritious and should bridge the nutritional gap between your baby’s meals. The requirements for snacks given to a baby as per their age is as follows:
- Below 6 months of age: All the nutritional demands of the baby are fulfilled by the mother’s milk.
- 6 months to 1 year: The baby does not require very frequent meals as their stomach is still adjusting to food other than breastmilk. The baby needs to be fed two to three times a day.
- Above 1 year old: As the mother’s milk decreases, complementary foods need to be given to the baby to provide nourishment.
Healthy snacks for your little one:
- WHO states that complementary feeding should fulfil the following three criteria:
- Feeds should be timely.
- It should be nutritionally adequate.
- It should be prepared hygienically.
- Texture and quantity: They need to be planned according to the baby’s digestive abilities. Digestive capabilities of a baby increase gradually as grow. To further meet their increasing energy requirements, more complex snacks need to be given to them.
- Six months of age: A baby six months of age has a very immature digestive system and thus can process only simpler textures of foods. Foods that need to be given to babies of this age need to be pureed, mashed or semi-solid. Curd, mashed or pureed foods can be given to the baby in small quantities along with breast milk feeds. This does not stress the baby’s digestive system and is easy for the baby to process.
- One year of age: A one-year-old child is able to eat his or her food with supervision. Do not make the size of their food very small, like a piece of carrot or grape, as this can pose a choking hazard. Finger foods like potato cutlet, a piece of any fruit, cheese, salads, bread sticks, etc. can be given to them as snacks.
- Above one year of age: A child above one year has a much-developed digestive system and can eat anything that others eat, but in the right quantities. French toast, sandwich, poha, etc. can be given to them as snacks.
Basic snack-feeding tips:
- Variety is priority: Make sure that the snacks you plan for your kids bridge any nutrient gap present in their daily diet. Ensure that the snacks planned include a variety of foods from different food groups present like cereals, pulses, fruits, vegetables, dairy etc, so that they get the varied benefits of all foods.
- Different foods in different formats: If you give your baby monotonous snacks then your baby may end up throwing a tantrum. Always provide them with the snacks made up of their favourite foods. You can even give them the same food but in different forms. Always introduce new foods along with foods they are familiar with.
- Milk is always right: Milk is a power house of protein, calcium and B vitamins. Milk and milk products like paneer, curd, fruit yoghurt and milk-based desserts like kheer, etc. are excellent options for healthy snacks for kids.
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juices: Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, etc. Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices, fruit smoothies can be served as healthy snacks to your child. A toddler can have 100 to 150ml of fruit juice. However, it’s always best to try and get your child to eat a fresh whole fruit or vegetable sticks as snacks.
- Go nuts: Nuts are nutrient-packed foods and easy healthy snack options. They have energy, protein, fibre and essential amino acids in abundance. If your child is very small, nuts and dried fruits like almonds, walnuts and pistachios, etc. can pose a choking hazard, if served whole. A better idea would be to make a paste of the nuts and add it to their milk.
- Choose what you eat wisely: You are the first role model to your child and children are great imitators. If you choose to have healthy snack options, so will they. Healthy food habits of your kids are a reflection of your habits. So, make sure you choose the right snacks and eating healthy.