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If toddlers ruled the world, it would be snacktime all the time (... and everyone would be a talking duck or superhero princess).

But alas, as parents we live in the real world, and in this real world, we know better than to dole out snacks on demand.

That said, we also know that toddlers have tiny tummies, and they may not be able to eat enough at meals to meet their nutrient needs. This is why snacks make up an important part of early childhood nutrition and are an opportunity to encourage healthful eating according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

What Is “Smart Snacking”?

“Smart Snacking” is a pattern of three meals with two to three healthy snacks each day, and it can have so many great nutritional benefits.

There are five ways dieticians and pediatricians recommend you can encourage smart snacking in your child at a very young age.

Recognize Your Toddler's Hunger Cues

Like adults, toddlers can confuse boredom or thirst with hunger. So it’s important to recognize if your tot is actually hungry, thirsty, or if they’re just cruising for crumbs. Kids, even very young toddlers, can recognize their own hunger and satiety cues. 

Sometimes, as parents, we like to keep our kids on a very regimented schedule. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but remember, kids ultimately decide how much they will eat and, sometimes, when they will eat. Your most important role is really decidingwhat they will eat. So make sure to respect their hunger cues and fullness cues.

Go for Produce and Protein at Snacktime

There are a lot of toddler snacks marketed to parents of young children that are carbohydrate rich, have no nutritional value, and are full of empty calories.

Toddler snacks should really contain a source of protein and produce, like apples and peanut butter or carrots and hummus. These protein and nutrient dense foods will leave your little one feeling more full, satisfied, and help sustain their energy. Our NurturMe Power Blends are rich in nutrients for your little one's "smart snacking."

Smart Snacking Portions Matter

Think back for a moment to your childhood. How many times did you hear the phrase, “Don’t eat all those crackers you’ll spoil your appetite!” 

Well, it’s true. Portions do matter. 

Dieticians and pediatricians say it’s important to make sure snacktime doesn’t become mealtime. Keep snack portions smaller. Your goal should be to help keep your child’s energy level up without causing him to skip a meal.

Watch the Clock

A great way to keep portions under control at snacktime is to watch the clock. Keep snack time to 10 to 15 minutes. This prevents both overeating and developing a habit of eating out of boredom. 

Don’t Sacrifice Taste When it Comes to Snacktime

Healthy foods don’t have to be bland! 

One of the main reasons parents struggle to get toddlers to eat healthier snacks is because the healthy snacks don’t taste like the unhealthy snacks! Today, there are healthier snack options available that are rich in nutrients, full of protein, and taste really, really good. 

Other NurturMe Related Articles:
-How a Healthy Gut Can Improve Your Toddler’s Sleep
-Brain-Boosting Nutrients Your Baby Should Be Getting