How much food to serve at snack time

Snack time can can either make or break your next meal.  Nothing is worse than feeding a hangry kid a few crackers to hold them over before supper, only to have them fill up too much to eat the real meal. Keep reading below to learn our no-fail tips on how much food to serve at snack time.

making snack time work for you not against you

Knowing how much food to serve at snack time is key

Too much snacking, or offering a snack too close to meal times can drastically impact your little one’s appetite; or throw their meal time schedule off completely. So how do you find a balance of offering enough, but not too much?

Follow our three, fail-proof tips to make snack times work for you and not against you.

Three tips that help bring balance to snack time

Whether you serve one food or a few different foods at snack time, their are a few other basic principles to keep in mind so snacks will work for you and not against you when meal time comes.

TIP #1: Try to keep a regular snack routine

Gone are the days of eating on demand… or at least they should be by the time your little one is a year old. (This of course excluded nursing on demand.)

By now, you should have a relatively established meal time “schedule” that you loosely follow.

If you have an all-day grazer on your hands, you may want to check out this post.

Why are meal time schedules important?

  • They help to set a general routine or guide for the day.
  • Help you anticipate and plan a meal or snack before you’re in the midst of dealing with a HANGRY little one.
  • It helps your little one anticipate when food is coming next so they can regulate how much they want and need to eat.

Not sure what a meal time schedule should look like? Here's an example for a 12 month old meal time schedule:

6:30 am: Baby wakes up and breastfeeds or has a bottle.

7:30 – 8 am: Breakfast

10 – 10:30 am:  Snack

12- 12:30 pm: Lunch

2:30 pm – 3 pm: Breastfeed or bottle OR snack

5 pm – 5:30 pm: Supper

7:30 pm – 8pm: Breastfeed or bottle OR snack

Now of course your schedule may look completely different than this. It really depends on you and your unique baby and what works for you.

This isn’t a judgement. This isn’t a suggested schedule you need to follow.
It’s simply an example of a general daytime meal schedule for illustration purposes.

BUT…. If you have concerns about the meal time schedule you are on right now, or if you need to shift to add more meals or snack, click here to book a free consult call. 

TIP #2: Offer as much food and variety as needed

Adding more or less variety to snacks is an easy way to boost it’s staying power!

What do we mean by staying power?
Simply, how long your little one will be able to run around with endless energy before turning into a puddle of emotions because they are hungry but don’t know it!

Follow this general guide on knowing how much variety to serve at snack time:

Offer one food item if:

  • You need something to hold your little one over until a meal is ready.
  • A meal will be served within 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Ideas for one food snack time:
    • Crackers
    • Cheese
    • Granola bar
    • Slices of veggies
    • A small handful of berries
    • Yogurt
    • A handful of nuts
Offer two or three food items if:

  • Your little one is hungry and meal time is roughly 2-3 hours away.
  • You need something more filling so your little one isn’t asking for a snack in another hour.
  • Ideas for two or three item snack times:
    • Cheese, crackers, and a yogurt.
    • Toast, peanut butter and jam, with milk.
    • A handful of nuts and fruit.
    • Veggies and dip.

If you’re looking for some more ideas for snack foods, Amy, over at Yummy Toddler Food has created an incredible master list of finger foods for toddlers, babies, and big kids that work great as a snack. Click the link to get the list.

the ultimate snack time trio

If you’re needing the ultimate snack, one that gives your little one enough energy to last them until their next meal, you’re going to want to make sure the food you offer has all of three of the following nutrients:

  1. Fat
  2. Fiber
  3. Protein

All three of these nutrients boast a “fullness factor,” which essentially means it takes longer for the body to break down so it helps your little one feel full, longer.

Need more ideas to incorporate more F2P foods in your snacks time? Click the image below to grab our free guide.

TIP #3: Don't make snacks all "easy foods"

It your little one LOVES snacks but hates meals it may be because snack time is full of easy foods.

What exactly are easy foods?

Easy foods often fall into the following categories:

  • They are soft or easy to chew.
  • They usually require little to no preparation or cooking.
  • Your little one eats them with no fuss.
Don’t get me wrong, these “easy foods” definitely have a time and a place in your little one’s diet, BUT if you get in the habit of offering them as regular snacks and nothing else your little one may hold out at meal times so they can “get the good stuff.”

What to do instead of just offering “easy foods”:

  • Add at least one other new, or more challenging foods at snack time.
  • Serve left-over meals as snacks.
  • Try to limit offering some of those easy foods to times when you need to eat on the run.
Need some more snack ideas to expand your repertoire? Grab out free PDF guide by clicking the image below.

Snacks definitely have their time and place, and when used wisely they can be a huge asset to you. I hope you’ve found this guide helpful for snack times.


2 thoughts on “How much food to serve at snack time”

  1. Snack time can be challenging for new parents, but this is a good resource that will help them determine what to do. Knowing which foods to offer, as well as portions, will be incredibly beneficial.


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