Your little one will be pleased to know that snacking should still play a massive part in their food consumption every day. The tummy of a 3-and-up is tiny compared to an adult’s stomach, so breakfast, lunch and dinner alone isn’t enough provide them with all the nutrients and energy they need throughout the day. Regular snacks keep their tummies and energy levels topped up – keeping hunger-induced meltdowns at bay. Just try to keep top-ups healthy by choosing fruit, veg, and snacks designed for little ones –they’re not ready for adult crisps and chocolate yet.
As your little one grows, you expect their appetite to do the same thing. But we all know that toddlers like to keep us on our toes! Some days it will feel like your 3-and-up is eating you out of house and home, and then suddenly they will refuse to touch all the yummy foods they previously devoured. Try not to panic when your little one’s appetite drops – it’s perfectly normal for their hunger levels to fluctuate. Changes in activity levels, developmental changes and some behavioural and emotional factors can all cause a 3-and-up’s appetite to go down. If your child appears happy and healthy then the best thing you can do is relax and try to stop yourself from putting pressure on them to eat. They will soon be wolfing down their dinners and asking for second helpings again.
Your little one needs three meals and about two snacks every day to keep their energy levels topped up and to meet their nutritional needs. As we’ve mentioned, some days they won’t fancy eating as much as other days, but it’s important to always offer them food at mealtimes. Kids can become overwhelmed by large servings, so even if you’re giving them the same meal as the rest of the family, try to stick to ‘me-sized’ portions; portions about the size of their cupped hand. They can always ask for more if they’re having a big appetite day. When it comes to snacks, all our Kiddylicious snacks are portion-controlled, in single-serve packs, so you don’t need to worry about how much to give your little one at snacktime.
Around three, you might see a big jump in their character development, with lots more opinions to go with it. All of a sudden, the ‘tiny trees’ they used to love eating become ‘yucky broccoli’, and they no longer like the strawberries they previously begged you to buy. Long story short, there is absolutely no point in trying to argue the case with them – a newly opinionated eater cannot be reasoned with! Instead, wait for it to pass. More often than not, when they see a friend or sibling enjoying the food that they profess to hate so much, they will suddenly decide it is back in favour. Play dates and eating at friend’s houses can be really helpful in combating these phases too. If you’re on the lookout for help with fussy eating, take a look at our expert panel’s discussion. Remember though, it is a totally normal phase and lots of kids go through it.
Just like when you were weaning, try to include a wide variety of foods in your toddler’s diet. Except in the case of intolerances or specific dietary lifestyle choices, the main food groups to incorporate every day are: fruit, vegetables, dairy (e.g. milk cheese and yoghurt), protein (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and pulses) and starchy foods (e.g. potatoes, bread and rice). It’s also important to ensure they stay hydrated. Water from a cup or free-flowing beaker is your best bet if you want to protect their teeth. And remember, it’s recommended that all children aged 6 months to 5-years-old are given vitamin supplements daily. Look out for one containing vitamins A, C and D.
Keep in mind that little ones don’t need salt added for flavouring to their food. If you’re trying to add new, yummy options to their diet – a great way to keep them excited and open-minded – choose herbs or spices instead. There are some great low salt and low sugar options for canned foods too. Snacks and meals made specially for kids tend to be lower in salt and sugar that grown up alternatives. The Kiddylicious 3-and-up range is full of yummy snacks that are designed for tiny tums – take a look!