Toddler friendly snacks

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:

Non-sugary snacks

  • 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)

For more information, visit our Portion Sizes Table and the Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers!

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Further Reading

  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist   Following his recent recovery from coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has publicly blamed excess weight for his need for intensive care. He has subsequently declared a war on the UK’s obesity crisis and is planning a post-pandemic public health drive to battle the growing problem.
  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.