Third in the series of my “Getting Extra Nutrients into my Child’s Diet” series and this week I’m focusing on snacking! I hope you enjoyed my post last week about lunches – it’s great to get feedback from everyone and I’m so glad the ideas are helpful.
When it comes to snacks, these aren’t something I always offer Raffy. He has a pretty good appetite and eats quite a lot at most of his mealtimes. Therefore, at snack times he’s often not that hungry and I don’t often think that he NEEDS anything extra. He does have snacks every now and then though and when he’s with the grandparents he certainly does!!
Snacking really depends on your routine and many children do need a couple of snacks during the day to tide them through until the next meal. For children who maybe don’t eat huge amounts at mealtimes or for children who are perhaps a little fussy with some of their foods, snacks can be super helpful and can help to add nutrients into young children’s diets too.
I always try to think about Raffy’s meals when I’m offering a snack, and to work out what food group (starchy, fruit and veg, protein, dairy) he might be somewhat lacking from his meals throughout the rest of the day. Therefore I’ll normally base his whole snacks on topping up the extra nutrients he needs. I also like to think outside the box when it comes to children’s snacks and to try to combine food groups, rather than just focusing on one e.g. fruit.
Here are some examples of my favourite nutrient-rich snacks for young children and babies.
– Oatcakes (or crackers) with toppings e.g. peanut butter, marmite, hummus, pate (not before 1 year), cheese – (obviously oatcakes are my number one, especially as my no added sugar/salt Baby Oatcake Recipe has gone down really well with parents ;-))
– Of course snacks sometimes come in the form of crisps, biscuits or cakes, which is fine, but try to also offer them with some nutrient-rich options too, such as blueberries, veg sticks, milk or some vegetable/protein dips. Additionally when making these kind of foods at home, you can also add herbs, spices and flavourings in to make them a little different. I like adding orange zest and lemon and lime juice to Raffy’s oatcakes and recently made them with fennel which went down really well too.
– Dips are also such a great idea and they are so easy to make from anything too. Carrot dips, aubergine dips, hummus, guacamole – you name it. I have a recipe for hummus on my website, but need to get busy making some recipes for other dips ideas too. I think this might need a whole blog in itself. I also love using yogurt as a dip too.
– Nut butters as a spread – I love using no added sugar and salt peanut butters with Raffy – it’s actually a really nutrient-dense option and, when he’s been teething he loves sucking on a spoon of pb! This works really well spread on fruit such as apples or banana slices too.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a Whole Foods it’s a great idea to make up some different nut butters for little ones – almond, cashew, brazil etc – this means that you can vary the type of nut butters you offer to children in their meals or snacks and adds different flavour profiles as well as a slightly different mix of nutrients too.
– Eggs are always a really easy and quick snack option too. You can also take them out and about as hardboiled options or even mini omelettes.
– Fish strips and fish fingers are a good iron and protein source and are really handy for a snack at home. Who says fish fingers need to be offered only as a meal? I do love offering Raffy salmon flakes, especially if I’m running out of meal ideas for the week which include fish.
– Let’s not forget good old fruit and veg too – perfectly packaged to carry about with you (fruit) and nutrient-rich and easy to eat on the go – fruits and veg always make up a good snack. However, many people rely solely on these as snacks (which is fine by the way), but it’s also a good idea to combine food groups at snack times to help ensure you can add in some extras and create a balance of foods throughout the day.
Whenever possible, I’d encourage you to combine food groups for snacks too, for example:
- Oatcakes with a handful of blueberries and a spread of peanut butter
- Crisps with carrot sticks and a hummus dip
- Eggs with some slices of orange
- Yogurt with ground nuts and strawberries
- Smoothie made with oats, yogurt and frozen forest fruits
- Flaked fish with a few spoons of sweetcorn
- Apple slices with peanut butter and cheese on top
I hope you found this helpful. Don’t forget to check out my blogs on getting extra nutrients into breakfasts, lunches and dinners, too. Let me know if you have any snack ideas of your own to boost nutrient intakes.