Toddlers love to snack, so often the best way to get them to eat is to have food available on the move, so they can explore the world to stop and eat when it suits them. My son is now almost 18 months old, and I have discovered that having snacks available is key to ensure he gets enough to eat on any given day. Like most toddlers, he prefers to eat on the go, the world is far too interesting to take time out to sit! This means that I need to provide him with foods that hopefully won’t make too much of a mess for me to clean up. For a few months now, I have had a snack station in our apartment which he runs past grabbing food on the way. Taking food out with us is important too, after an outdoor play session Kai gets hungry, so I like to take every opportunity to nourish him.
I have noticed while out and about, that a very popular toddler snack is puffed cereal. I can see why, since it’s dry, light and easy to eat. I certainly get it, as a busy parent myself, it’s nice to have an easy to go snack food for hassle free nutrition. Advertising on the packets suggest they are full of vitamins, healthy and nutritious. This worries me. All boxed and packaged cereals/puffs/rice cakes are just another highly processed “food”, that is anything but nutritious. The process to get the grain to “puff” is called extrusion. Anything that has a light, puffed, crunchy, melt in your mouth texture has gone through this process. As described in the article for , “Grains are mixed with water, processed into a slurry and placed in a machine called an extruder. The grains are forced out of a tiny hole at high temperature and pressure, which shapes them into little o’s or flakes or shreds. Individual grains passed through the extruder expand to produce puffed wheat, oats and rice.” The article goes on to say “Unpublished research indicates that the extrusion process turns the proteins in grains into neurotoxins. Proteins are very similar to certain toxins in molecular structure, and the pressure of the puffing process may produce chemical changes that turn a nutritious grain into a poisonous substance.”
Even without the harmful extrusion process, grains are very hard for a toddler to digest. I made a point to avoid giving my son Kai any grains, until after his first year. When I do give him grains now, they are more of a side dish. I much prefer to give Kai real food snacks. These are some of our favorites, his and mine:
- Nori sheets **(not the popular individual packages – these are coated in canola oil) Read why these should be avoided in this article
- Raw goat cheese, cut into small cubes
- Hard boiled egg, great for on the go..it’s already in it’s own package!
- Slices of roast grass fed beef, try
- Pitted olives
- Apple slices, usually served along with cheese
- Roasted squash & sweet potato pieces
- Pieces of vegetable frittata
- Kale chips
- Raw sauerkraut, this is especially good for snacks (for immune enhancing beneficial bacteria)
All the above can easily be eaten at home, or taken in a container for out and about. There really is no need for any puffed cereal snacks, no matter how nutritious they say they are… there is no match for real whole foods!
Smoothies are another great snack, here is one of Kai’s favorites:
- 1 1/2 cups coconut water
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1/4 cucumber
- 1 cup mixed mango & peach slices
- 1/2 avocado for creaminess (optional)
- fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. Enjoy a glass with your toddler!
For more reading on feeding your toddler, this is a great and informative article –