Our house is a house of hangry. It takes just seconds for all hell to break loose and the source of the screaming is usually down to two things: hunger or tiredness. Hangry tantrums are worse than any other because, usually, a hangry child is too, well, hangry to convey what it is they actually want. This is where snacks come in.
Now, I’ll be honest and hold my hand up here to admit that my toddler doesn’t always snack on healthy food. I do my best but if I’m disorganised and we’re out and about then I may panic buy a packet of biscuits just to end the hangry screaming. Healthy snacks for toddlers aren’t always easy to find at the drop of a hat, so this is where you can learn from my mistakes.
Here are five ways to avoid hangry meltdowns and make sure your kids are snacking on healthy treats rather than sugar-laden junk.
1. Bulk buy Organix
Both my girls LOVE the Organix Goodies range. Frog may be long past toddlerdom but she enjoys Goodies treats (which she calls “Good Food”) as much as her two year old sister. This is why we tend to bulk-buy the snacks and keep a selection in the cupboard in case of emergencies. These come in particularly handy on the afternoon school run, when Baby Girl is inevitably tired and Frog emerges from class ravenous and grumpy. Their favourites are the Gingerbread men and the oaty bars, which I tend to carry “panic packs” of in the bottom of my handbag.
2. Offer snacks regularly
Did you know that a toddler’s tummy isn’t big enough to take on board enough energy and nutrients from just three meals a day? The ideal amount of snacks is two to three in between meals. I know – a lot, right? I often forget this and then wonder why, at 11.30am, my two year old is having a hangry drama. The truth is, her breakfast at 8am (even if it was a huge three course breakfast of fruit, toast and cereal) just isn’t enough to sustain her until lunch.
Offering regular snacks throughout the day is often the key to a happy toddler in our house. It might be cubes of cheese with chopped up cucumber, a packet of Organix cheese puffs, a banana, a crumpet with peanut butter – whatever. The point is, don’t worry about “spoiling your child’s appetite” by offering snacks – toddlers NEED regular snacks in order to get enough energy and nutrients into them.
3. Make snacks fun
If I offer Baby Girl plate of sliced cheese and cucumber there is a high chance she’ll turn her nose up at it. However, if I offer her the very same snack in a pretty little pot, with the cheese cut into toddler-sized cubes, then she will devour it with gusto. The art is in the presentation, I always find. (FYI this is a trait she definitely takes after her mother in – when I was little I used to make my dad cut my apple into circular hoops with the core sliced out because he told me it’s how the “grand ladies in Paris” ate theirs.)
4. Watch out for hangry signs
This is a tricky one because, as mentioned above, hangry meltdowns can hit completely out of the blue. However, if Baby Girl starts whingeing, pulling at me, asking for “boobie”, or throwing toys around the room I know that, chances are, she’s hungry. A snack will often help to ease the drama (my philosphy? If in doubt – offer food!).
5. Mix it up
Baby Girl now has clear favourites food-wise, so it can be tempting to always offer her the same things. This is not the way to snack nirvana though, because when I find I’m always offering the same things she either gets really picky with her food the rest of the time or simply isn’t interested. It’s a no win situation. I now try to offer fruit and veg seasonally (her current favourite is raspberries and strawberries, picked straight from the veggie patch) and try different types of snacks every few days. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but at least it never gets boring.
Here are some more helpful tips from Organix on the issue of toddler snacking:
What do you find works when it comes to toddler snacks? Have you got any great new snack ideas I can try to ward off the next hangry toddler drama?!
Thanks to Organix for working with me on this post. I’m an Organix ambassador on the No Junk Journey programme. All copy, photography and opinions remain my own. For more information about how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.