Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist
In our often busy and hectic lives, it can be all too easy to offer young children the first treat that comes to hand. Snacking, especially on foods which are sweet and high in calories, can get in the way of a toddler having a varied and balanced diet and frequently eating sweet foods and drink is also associated with a higher risk of dental caries.
Public Health England (PHE) has warned that children are eating three times more sugar in a day than their recommended allowance, with half of this coming from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks. On average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day and a third are having four or more.
A move towards healthier snacks can only be a positive one! To encourage this, PHE have launched a new Change4Life campaign, advising parents to offer children only two sugary snacks a day at the most, of 100 calories each or less. This limit does not apply to fruit and vegetables, and PHE encourage children (as well as adults!) to have five fruit and vegetables a day. The Infant & Toddler Forum recommend no more than one sugary snack each day. As a handy guide, here are some recommended snacks from the ITF for toddlers, along with the recommended portion sizes:
- Plain Yogurt (1 average pot – 125ml) with some pieces of fruit
- 1-2 oatcakes with a few cubes of cheese or e.g. ½ Mini Babybel™)
- 1 slice bread or toast with butter and marmite
- 1 -2 tbs hummus with vegetable sticks
- Popcorn – unsweetened (½ – 1 small cup)
Sugary snacks – limit to one per day
- 1 slice bread or toast with scrapes of butter and jam
- ½ crumpet with thin scrapes of butter and honey
- ½ hot cross bun with a thin scrape of butter
- Digestive (plain) – ½ -1 biscuit
- Flavoured Yogurt (1 average pot – 125ml)