Contrary to common perception, snacking is actually essential for your child. Snack time, as part of daily diet routine, helps fulfil your child’s basic energy and nutrient needs to optimize growth potential.
Here are some fascinating facts we often overlook. Younger children have smaller stomachs and thus, do not eat large portions at one sitting. Their naturally active tendencies lead to shorter mealtimes. So, snacks help them meet their nutrition requirements for growth. Orchestrated carefully, snacks can be value-added nutritional complements to your child’s main meals
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend that younger children eat three meals and at least two snacks a day.1,2
For picky eaters, snack time presents opportunities for your child to explore the new flavors and textures you craft into the menu. Start small, offer minute portions of winning choices. Then, add on new items. Don’t pressure your child to taste or eat new foods immediately. Encourage exploration through the sense of sight, smell, touch and taste. Allow your child to describe the experience to get an insight into your child’s thoughts and feelings so you can improve the next eating experience. Keep on trying as it sometimes takes 10 – 15 attempts before a child may eat new foods.
Smart Snack Choices (Click to expand)
The crux to snacking right is to always ensure that nutrient-dense snacks are your priority.
Nutrient dense snacks should provide:
- carbohydrates for energy, with little or no added sugars
- ‘good’ fats like monounsaturated fats (MUFA) while being low in saturated fats and free of trans fats
- adequate protein and other vital nutrients such as fibre, iron and calcium
Top Tips to Smart Snacking (Click to expand)
- Offer realistic portions1:
- Serve one-fourth to one-third of the adult portion size, or 1 measuring tablespoon of each food for each year of your child's age.
- Give less than you think your child will eat. Let your child ask for more if she is still hungry.
- Plan snack times:
- Unplanned, random snacking can interfere with your child’s appetite and potentially affect the natural instinct to experience hunger and/or fullness. When timed correctly, snacks can support your child get the energy needed to fuel growth and daily activities.
- Schedule snack times for best effect:
- Avoid offering snacks directly after a meal or as a substitute for main meals to avoid cultivating the habit of grazing.
- Refrain from labelling foods: Avoid labelling food as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but instead aim for balance and moderation. Children should learn that all foods have a place in the diet. Allow the occasional “unhealthy” snack (e.g., once in 1-2 weeks, and in small portions), so that your child doesn't crave for it. Also avoid “forcing” your child to eat only healthy snacks, as it may backfire and cause dislike of these nutritious snacks that are beneficial towards supporting growth potential.
- Be a good role model: Children tend to model after their parents; so, parents should be good role models and follow healthy eating habits.
- Read labels and look out for ‘Healthier Choice’ symbols: Take time to read nutrition labels and ingredients list, and select snacks without added sugars, less saturated fat and no trans fats where possible. Picking healthier choices is a smart way to get the best in category choice. Teaching and involving your child in reading food labels helps build a strong healthy eating foundation that will last a lifetime!
- Offer realistic portions1:
Smart snacking with a complete, balanced oral nutritional supplement (Click to expand)
Snacking on 1 or two serves a day of the nutrient-dense, complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement can plug many nutritional gaps in the diets of picky eaters as well as children who need to catch up on growth. This unique supplement also delivers a wide range of vitamins and minerals making every delicious sip a nutrient-packed power choice.
Available in a variety of flavors as a ready-to-drink bottle or an easy-to-prepare powder, you can conveniently and confidently ensure your growing child meets nutrient goals by building in a complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement as a snack.
1. Right From the Start: ABCs of Good Nutrition for Young Children (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics)
2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jan 2021. Title: When Should My Kids Snack?. Accessed 10 Jan 2022. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/when-should-my-kids-snack