By Kate Horney
Toddlers have tiny hands. They have tiny feet, and they have tiny tummies.
When it comes to healthy nutrition for toddlers, I’ve seen many moms completely forget the fact that their little one has a small stomach.
In an effort not to “ruin their appetite” for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, many moms who have weaned their child from regular breastfeeding forget this as they transition their toddler to solid foods.
With their small stomachs, it’s almost impossible for most toddlers to eat as much as they need to at meal times.
Add to that the fact that most children this age are more interested in playing than eating (seriously, I can’t get my son, Jackson, to sit still in his high chair for more than 2 minutes) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster if you’re counting on your child getting all the nourishment he or she needs from 3 meals/day.
So what’s the best nutrition plan for your toddler?
I have found that adding healthy snacks to Jackson’s regular meals helps keep his tummy full and- just like mommy- balances his hunger, energy and blood sugar. (Ie. Less meltdowns!)
Instead of letting Jackson graze constantly throughout the day (think: carrying around those snack cups with “spill proof lids” filled with goldfish) I schedule a few healthy snack times throughout our day.
It’s a great time for us to sit down at the table to connect, and with food coming at set times, my hope is that it will help Jackson learn to recognize when he’s hungry and when he’s not.
Here’s our typical routine: breakfast, a healthy snack mid-morning, lunch, another healthy snack in the afternoon, dinner, and depending on what time we eat, possibly a healthy snack in the evening before bed.
Ideally, healthy snacks served throughout the day for your child should consist a balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, proteins, and fruits/vegetables.
Need some healthy toddler snack ideas?
Here are some of Jackson’s favorites:
Ants on a log- spread peanut or almond butter butter on celery sticks and sprinkle them with raisins.
Chicken breast “nuggets” breaded with with oat bran + egg whites and seasoning
Monkey bites- bananas sliced with peantubutter and topped with dark or sugar free chocolate
Oat bran made with unsweetened almond milk and mixed with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and cinnamon + stevia
Apple slices with string cheese or peanut butter (Jackson, like his mommy, is a major nut-butter lover!)
Berries topped with plain Greek yogurt
Dip a banana in greek yogurt mixed with protein powder, roll it in oat bran, and freeze it for a tasty frozen snack
Greek yogurt smoothie made with plain greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, ice, and any fruit (Jackson’s favorites include bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
Low carb tortilla toasted and topped with veggies, salsa, and shredded cheese, alongside guacamole for (messy) dipping
A small baked sweet potato with tiny chicken cubes and salsa
What are some of your favorite toddler approved snack ideas? Post below!
Kate Horney is part of the Momsanity Team, which is a community of Moms striving to achieve balance through physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. You can read more about this amazing program here, and also get information about the Momsanity Sisterhood here. The Sisterhood is a closed group with nutrition guidelines, workouts designed for fat loss and strength building, daily spiritual guidance, and more!