Avoiding the Snack Time Battle
I’m not sure how or why it happened but sometime a few months ago I noticed that my toddler started equating “snack” with something that comes out of the pantry. We’d be at home and it would be snack time and I’d offer her some fruit or veggies or something equally healthy and she’d say “NO! I want a SNACK snack!” I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about until she would get so frustrated that she’d go and bang on the pantry telling me she wanted a snack from in there because she didn’t have the words in her to describe exactly what she wanted. Most of the snacks she took to daycare were fresh, healthy food, so were most of the ones I took with us when we left the house and at home too – every once in a while she’d have something not so healthy but I just couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden, out of nowhere she was adamant that “snacks” must come from the pantry.
I know so many parents struggle with this very thing. How do you get your child to make the mental switch from wanting something not so healthy to wanting something healthy? Especially if you’re adopting new eating habits for the whole family and you’re trying to change your childs diet. It’s hard.
And that’s when I remembered the voice of a friend who told me about the snack box she has for her son.
So as soon as we moved we created Annabelles snack boxes. She has one in the pantry (which she can open on her own) and one on the fridge (which she is very pleased that she can open this one on her own). I’ve found that it’s all a matter of perceived control. I choose what goes into the boxes but she can choose absolutley anything she wants out of her snack box. If she doesn’t like the options in the fridge she moves on the the pantry and then she can make her own decision.
I can’t even begin to express how many headaches this has saved me since we started. Instead of going through the fridge or pantry together and having to deny her things that I might not want her to eat right then I can just say “well if it’s not in your snack box you have to choose something else”. Easy Peasy.
So what’s in these magic boxes? It depends on the day. Most days the choices are all healthy ones, and every once in a while she gets something unexpected like some gluten free cheese crackers that she lovingly refers to as her ducky crackers because they’re in the shape of perfect tiny ducks, or an almond milk chocolate pudding or maybe even an Annies organic fruit snacks. It’s all about moderation. The last thing I want to do is raise the child that’s never allowed to eat anything ‘fun’ and then wants all of it at the first chance she gets. We’ve just started having conversations about ingredients and why some things can be healthy if we make them at home (home made, gluten free chicken nuggets made with organic chicken) and why maybe they aren’t so healthy somewhere else like at a restaurant or at a play date. Hopefully she’ll grown and understand, and taste, the difference.
Back to Snack Boxes.
Each snack box is kept where she can get to it on her own giving her what she believes to be complete control of the snack situation. This is what the fridge snack box looks like on the bottom shelf. Sometimes she digs through it, sometimes she pulls out the whole box and then decides what she wants.
Here are some typical things found in the fridge snack box:
Organic kefir, fresh fruit, cut up veggies, some sort of leftover from a meal she didn’t finish, goat cheese sticks. Other things I typically put in there: any paleo baked goods we’ve made, raw cheese, organic preservative free salami, snap peas, hummus, Hail merry macaroons and whatever else I deem to be worthy of the snack box.
The pantry snack box sometimes looks like this:
The snip chips are parsnip and coconut flakes and they’re delicious (and they make other really great flavors), beef jerky which she has yet to try, wasabi sea snax (read your ingredients when you buy seaweed snacks, a lot of them are made with canola or soybean oil).
Other things that can easily be found in there: Ellas Red fruit pouches, kind bars, mixed raw nuts, raisins, dried apricots, organic applesauce, marys gone crackers pretzels, organic yogurt or coconut milk drops.
I change the snacks out every few days and won’t re-fill it until almost everything is gone. The trick with this is to keep it interesting and make sure there are things they actually want to eat in there, if they look at everything and think “eeewww” then it’s not going to work. Kids live being in control and feeling like they’re the ones making the decision. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!
What other great snacks am I missing? I want to hear your ideas!!