Trying to get everyone ready and out the door in the morning can be stressful for the whole family, even more so if you have to pack a selection of snacks for your toddler to bring to montessori or crèche with them. Remember, now is the time to lay down good eating habits for life so you don’t want to slip into the habit of repeating the same lunch box or snack selection everyday! Variety is the spice of life after all and when it comes to nutrition, variety is the best way to ensure that your child gets all of the various nutrients he needs to grow and develop during the toddler years.
So, first things first – be prepared! Don’t be surprised by the morning – sure as night follows day, morning time follows a good night sleep (and hopefully you are having a good night’s sleep these days). So have as much as you can ready from the night before, including clothes laid out and lunch boxes, cool bags or flasks and containers ready to go. This can help to reduce the feelings of stress that threaten to overwhelm us during the busy morning rush.
When it comes to what to pack, use the Toddler Food Pyramid as a guide. Many crèches will provide a hot meal for children if they are there for a long day, but if it is a shorter day, you may need to send in some suitable snacks. Remember, your toddler will have breakfast at home and then lunch and dinner at home too, depending on collection time, so keep the snacks varied and simple so they will keep your toddler going between meals. They will still be getting the bulk of their daily meals at home.
1.Fresh fruit such as pears, satsumas, bananas, apple. It’s so important to include fruit regularly in your child’s diet and snack time is a great way to do this. Fresh berries in a colourful little tub can be popular too and easy for little hands to manage. Try to have fruit prepared as much as possible to make it more enticing for little eyes and hands.
2. Crackers/rice cakes and cheese cubes or slices: Choose crackers which do not have lots of salt on top – it is important to choose lower salt options for your toddler. Rice cakes are a good choice. Cubes or batons of cheese can be eaten with the crackers or on their own for a nutritious, tooth friendly snack.
3. Bread/Rolls: Small slices of brown bread, mini rolls, pitta pockets or wraps cut into small swirls. Keep the filling simple and easy to manage – a smearing of cream cheese, smooth peanut butter (always check that there are no allergies in the creche) or just a thin spread of butter and some grated cheese.
4. Yogurt: A great source of nutrition for toddlers but not always the easiest to transport and not so good if they burst in the bag! Pop them in a tupperware box to keep them safe and teacher can open them at snack time! Some yogurts now available in a tube which can be a little easier to open. The tubes can be frozen and then popped in the bag straight from the freezer – they will defrost during the morning but still be a nice cold snack at 11am. Chose a low sugar variety as some can be more like a dessert than a yogurt…steer clear of chocolate flavoured or highly coloured ranges.
5. Fruit brack or banana bread even better if they are home-made. This is something you could do with your toddler at the weekend – a small buttered slice with a glass of milk would make an energy rich mid morning snack.
Remember: Don’t give whole nuts and popcorn until your child is at least 5 years old – because of the danger of choking.