Toddler Snacks – Are They Healthy?
I decided to look into the nutrition of toddler marketed snacks since I have had my suspicions about them over the last several months. My reservations about these snacks, including those labeled as organic, were in fact substantiated through further research. Sorry moms, but they simply aren’t good for your little ones! I’m not however one to point out problems without providing solutions, so I will offer some healthy alternatives at the end of this blog.
A study conducted at the University of Calgary found that these snacks are packed with too much sugar and salt – in fact, sometimes as much, if not more than convenience snacks targeting adults. We may think that since these snacks are marketed towards children that they must be healthy, but this simply isn’t the case. They are fortified with iron, vitamin D, etc, but there are better sources of these nutrients and the calories consumed fill our kids’ tummies so they don’t have the necessary appetite for mealtime and more healthy alternatives. Furthermore, these products affect their taste buds and teach them to develop a preference for salty and sweet foods.
Parents should read the nutrition labels of the products they are buying, and look at the list of ingredients as well. If one of the first four ingredients is sugar* the product should be avoided. Ingredients are listed by volume so that the first ingredients listed are the main ingredients in that food.
Sorry for the bad news – but here’s the good news. I have some ideas that kids will be just as happy to eat – especially if you get them started with these snacks early on. The following are some healthy snack ideas that will help you ensure your children develop a preference for healthier food choices in the long run:
Skewers of Cheese and Fruit cut into shapes (forget the skewers for very young children) Think berries, melon, bananas, etc.
Sweet Potato Fries (http://www.organic-baby-resource.com/healthy-toddler-snacks.html)
Grilled Cheese Sandwich Bites (Whole Wheat Bread, Cheddar Cheese – cut into animal shapes)
Homemade Muffins / Breads with Vegetable Purees (Jessica Seinfeld has some great recipes in her cookbook Deceptively Delicious)
*corn syrup, cane syrup, dextrose, glucose, galactose, honey, brown sugar