From 6 months onwards, little ones need three meals a day and two snacks. And snack time continues to be needed right the way through school. The problem many parents face is knowing what to offer as a snack and particularly how to keep snack time healthy.
Healthy snacks require planning and prep. It is all too easy to open a packet of chips or sweets but neither are good healthy options for little tummies. Most ready-made snacks lack good nutrients and in addition, they are frequently highly processed meaning that they are likely to contain additives that your baby should not be eating.
There are some principles that will help you choose healthy snack options:
- Fruit – although high in sugar, fruit is a good snack because its ready to eat and can be grabbed at short notice. It is best to eat fresh fruit – not dried fruit, and is not a good idea to drink fruit juice – rather drink water.
- Prep ahead of time – because snacks are often grabbed on the run, it is best to be prepared – otherwise you may end up grabbing something unhealthy. The Oat Bars or Fat Bombs in Weaning Sense are easy to made and fabulous to grab on the run.
- Read the label – look for ready-made snacks that have very few ingredients; no added sugar; few preservatives and no colourants. Many shops now sell date balls and other homemade snacks that are really nutritious and free of the evils.
- High fat and protein with unprocessed carbs – most convenience foods rely on processed carbs and sugars for taste, try to look for snacks that have good protein or fat content, like cheese or biltong, rather than high crabs, like cookies and chips.
- Easy to hold and eat – the best snacks are hand held and do not require utensils so go for bite sized veggies – like carrot sticks and baby tomatoes or healthy rusks and even smoothies, which are easy to drink down on the run.