It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Snacking: When, Where … and why so much?

How often do your kids snack?

Increasingly, I am coming to the opinion the answer to that question is almost certainly “too often”.

Kids snack a lot these days. A lot. More than I did when I was a kid, I’m sure of that. Why? Are kids hungrier than before? Has the essential physiology of the human body changed so much in a generation or two? Of course not.

Kids eat all the time, and everywhere. In the stroller, in the car, before daycare or school and after it, before bed. We take snacks to soccer games and kindergym — so that kids who’ve burned off 200 calories running can quick! ingest 300 more!! We don’t even consider leaving the home without food. Has it struck anyone but me that this is a bit excessive?

Why do you give your kids snacks?

For all sorts of reasons, I’ll bet. I’ll further bet that many of those reasons have nothing whatsoever to do with hunger. We feed our kids to bribe them, to motivate them, to appease them, to distract, soothe, quiet, coax. That container of food in the diaper bag is our security blanket. If they get fractious, we can pop something in their mouths and fend off the meltdown for a few more minutes. I’m not saying we must never do that. I am suggesting, however, it should be the aberration, not the norm. We should have enough tricks in our parenting arsenal, including the firm look and equally firm “That is enough. We’ll be going home soon”, that we are not stuffing food into their ever-willing mouths five, six, ten times a day.

In fact, though our children, when requesting a snack, will declare themselves to be STARVING!!!, I’d go so far as to say that most North American children never really experience hunger. They may get peckish from time to time, sure. And most assuredly, they are conditioned to expect food at certain times (in the stroller, in the car), and that association has them wanting food. “Wanting food”, however, is far from the same thing as “being hungry”.

It would be a tremendous thing, so good for their long-term health, if we could teach our children the difference between those two things.


And what do you feed your kids, when they do snack?

Most toddlers get an astonishing amount of simple carbs in a day. Simple carbs are not bad in and of themselves. We need a certain percentage in our diet. But, variety! We also need variety! A day spent tanking up on Saltines, goldfish crackers and Cheerios, followed by a dinner based primarily on pasta, is not variety.

I believe that infants who are strictly milk-fed should be fed on demand. They know when they are hungry.

But you know … I fed my kids on demand, and in those earliest weeks and months ‘demand’ varied from every hour some days to every three or four. However, when I was nursing, the term “cluster feeding” had not hit the popular psyche. Some days your baby had a “hungry day”, sure, but the idea that a child could nurse, relax, then feed again in twenty minutes, then again twenty minutes after the end of that feeding … and again, and again?

Well, okay, some days that might happen, but it wasn’t considered normal. It was an aberration that you tried to work out of their little systems. You’d take them for a ride in the stroller, give them a soother (after the first six weeks or so, when breast-feeding, if that was your choice, is well established), put them in a baby swing, swaddle them tight and put them down for a nap on that tummy you KNOW was full. By popularizing the term ‘cluster feed’, I fear that we’ve put yet another burden on young mothers, that they can never say, “Oh, no, you little fuss-budget. You are not hungry so soon!”

But for the most part, demand feeding in those first six to eight months, with a gradual weaning into solid in the second half of that first year.

And by a year, they should be eating everything you’re eating, pretty much. Cut in smaller pieces, steamed a little softer, sure, but everything you eat.

Once they were two years old, my own children got about one snack a day. You read that right. One. We’d have breakfast, we’d have lunch, we’d have an afternoon snack, we’d have dinner. Now, this is not to say that in the proud tradition of North American parenting, I didn’t keep an emergency stash of Cheerios in the diaper bag for those occasions I’d be stuck in the line at the bank as naptime approached. Sure I did. But they were truly used for emergencies. That half-cup container of Cheerios might need to be refilled every couple of months.

But somehow, when I started a daycare, I fell into the pattern of more. We snack at 10 in the morning, we have lunch at 11:45, we snack around 3 or 3:30, depending on when naps were over. So between breakfast and dinner, they’ve eaten three times, and their parents know this … and yet, they were having snacks in the car or stroller on the way home! This just blew me away. Why am I feeding afternoon snack, when they’re only going to eat again an hour later? And then they have dinner. Some of them get bedtime snacks, too. And of course, this is normal. My clients are not aberrations, they are just parenting as North Americans parent. It’s what we do.

And just try suggesting to parents (I’m talking societally here, not dissing my parents) that kids don’t need to snack so much. While mulling over this post, I stumbled across a thread in a parenting forum where a young mother asked if snacking in the car was strictly necessary. She didn’t want the mess, and surely it was reasonable to think that kids could wait a bit?

In the four pages of responses I scanned, I found only two people who supported this idea. Those two exceptions aside, Every.Single.Parent responding said things like “Kids eat constantly! Get used to it!” Some were more polite, some less so, but that was the overwhelming message.

But you know? I just don’t think constant snacking is necessary. I don’t even think it’s desirable. We are teaching our children that hunger is a bad, bad thing, to be avoided at all costs, by eating incessantly. We are teaching our children to eat for all sorts of non-hunger, non-nourishment reasons. If they never experience hunger, they will never know when they need to eat. They will be eating provoked by cues of association, not physical need.

What’s our big fear about being out of the house without food? I suspect it’s not so much that the children will be hungry, as it is that the children will misbehave and we won’t have our quick-and-easy distraction. Is the child addicted to the steady stream of food, or are we addicted to the small bit of security that container of Cheerios provides? Could it be we are afraid to be out in the big world with our toddler without our edible safety net?

But even if it is our child’s hunger …

What of it? Is it so very bad that a child should feel hunger? Hunger is what lets us know we’re ready to eat. Hunger does not mean I MUST EAT! INSTANTLY!!! Surely there’s something to be said for pleasurable anticipation of a good thing to come?

So, just because I feel the whole constant-snacking thing has gotten so out of whack, I’ve been running an experiment recently. I’m skipping morning snack (which was almost always fruit; once a week it was muffins), and tacking it to the end of lunch as ‘dessert’. I’ve been skipping afternoon snack altogether, because I know they’re all going to eat on the way home, anyway. So really, I’m having these kids eat the way I ate at their age. I’m going retro with food.

It’s stretching parental comfort zones to suggest that kids be allowed to get hungry, I know. So what do I do when the kids tell me they’re hungry? Which, being accustomed to a 10 a.m. snack, they do?

I tell them what we’re having for lunch. Cheerfully. Which is, now that I think about it, exactly what my mother did: “You’re hungry? That’s great! Then you’ll really enjoy the yummy eggplant lasagna I made for lunch!” Or commiserate: “Yes, I’m getting hungry, too. Won’t that lasagna taste great??” The message being it’s okay to feel hunger. It’s okay to savour the next meal with cheerful anticipation. And then, before they get stuck and whiny, I move them on to the next activity.

The results?

– There has been no enormous uptick in bad behaviour. There has been no change in behaviour at all. This includes the two 17-month-olds, which I hadn’t necessarily expected.
— They are eating more at lunch.
— Jazz, our chronically picky eater, is eating. No fuss, just eating. Sometimes multiple helpings. (I am 110% convinced there would be far fewer picky eaters in North America if children were ever allowed to feel hungry.)
— They are not necessarily eating their ‘dessert’ (formerly their morning snack), because they are filling up on lunch.
— This may be a total coincidence, but the two younger ones have been napping longer.

I’m going to give it another couple of weeks, and then, if nothing changes, I’m calling it a success. Cool.

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January 29, 2013 - Posted by | controversy, food, health and safety, parenting | ,

29 Comments »

  1. Interesting.

    I do give a snack every morning at 10AM – some of the kids eat breakfast really early, and I have found that they get pretty whiny – especially the babies – if they don’t get a little something at that mid-morning point. The snacks are not large, though.

    I will often skip the afternoon snack for the older kids. I just don’t see it as necessary, every day. If they don’t ask, I don’t offer.

    One thing I won’t do is give drinks of milk on demand. The kids can have milk with the main meals only – and a reasonable serving too, not a bottomless cup. The rest of the day, if they are thirsty, they can have water. I think a lot of kids fill up on milk, too… and if endless carbs is the first besetting snack sin (and I think it probably is) dairy can’t be far behind.

    With my own children, I can only say with any certainty that when they were two, they had one afternoon snack a day. Prior to that, I don’t really recall. I wasn’t at all sure the 17-month-olds would manage, but I tried it anyway, and ta-dah! No problem at all.

    I am in 100% agreement about the milk. Milk is a food, not to be used as a thirst-quencher. If you’re thirsty, drink water. (FTR, I find it bizarre that there are adults out there who use pop to quench their thirst. Never mind that it doesn’t work, it just grosses me right out. Bleah. Who’d DO that?) My 2-and-ups get milk with either lunch or afternoon snack, but not both; under-twos get the milk their parents send.

    Comment by SnarkHat | January 29, 2013 | Reply

    • Oh, and edited to add that my 12mo snacks a LOT – I’m tapering him down gradually and I am seeing a drop in his appetite just in the last few days, but for a while there he just ATE ALL THE THINGS. I chalked it up to growing and just tried to keep him happy. :)

      Prior to a year, I think feeding on demand is absolutely okay … if, that is, it’s healthy. If a 10-month-old turns her wee button nose up at cooked carrot sticks or slices of pear, and refuses to ingest anything but crackers, well, she’s not really hungry, is she, and she can just wait for the next scheduled feeding time. From what I saw, your little eating machine is getting a nice variety of healthy food, so I’d say he knows what he needs.

      Comment by SnarkHat | January 29, 2013 | Reply

    • Sounds logical to me. I have never been much on giving snacks. When I was doing baby led weaning I just fed Owl whenever I ate and the trend got set then. He is SO voracious however that lately we have taken to giving him snacks because he is so constantly hungry. Since he eats his meals well and is scrawny as hell, I think it works. But he eats snacks sitting down, not just constant grazing while playing the way I see some kids do.

      Comment by IfByYes | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  2. Wow. I didn’t realise that snacking was so common over there. I have no idea whether it’s common now in the UK, to be honest; I don’t spend a lot of time with kids at the moment and the ones I do look after or teach are all foreign and here temporarily – Korean, Canadian, American etc. so presumably influenced by their parents’ home cultures.

    I have recently made a huge effort to cut snacking out of my own diet and I’m steadily losing weight without noticing. I’d only ever have one or two things a day (a piece of toast, or a few biscuits) but when I stopped I realised I had been snacking almost daily. If I’m finding it a struggle as an adult to recognise real hunger vs boredom, it must be impossible for toddlers! Good call and good luck :)

    It’s more than common, it’s endemic. Even more, there are people who think it’s harsh and/or irresponsible — and just plain old bad parenting — to not be popping food into your child every couple of hours! Obviously, I disagree.

    It is hard to distinguish boredom eating from hunger eating! I remember my mother telling me, “You’re not hungry, you’re just bored.” (And then she’d give me some suggestions for boredom-busters that were WAY worse than my boredom. I soon learned it was smart to keep my own self entertained!) Toddlers will never learn to distinguish real hunger from boredom if we don’t teach them.

    Good for you on the weight loss, by the way, and in such a sensible, gradual, healthy way!

    Comment by May | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  3. Finally! Someone who says what I’ve always thought! My kids were given a bedtime snack and a mid afternoon snack until they were around 3. Then I started questioning my motives. I cut out the mid afternoon snack, and they suddenly started eating better at supper. Once they were a bit older, we cut out the bedtime snack. At day care (when they were little) they were given snacks constantly, and it drove me nuts. Now that they are in school they get a snack in the morning (school policy, not mine!) and that’s all the snacking. They are the least picky kids I know.

    I would argue that eating less frequently, waiting till you’re truly hungry before eating (not starving, just more than a smidge peckish), makes you appreciate your food more. You can look forward to it, you will appreciate it more as you eat. All this equates to less picky, yup!

    Comment by Tammy | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  4. Mary, this is one of my pet peeves, especially as it relates to kids activities. Soccer, baseball, girl scouts, anything, snack is mandatory. And then, it’s usually total crap. I’ve cut wheat out of our diet (at home anyway) for about a year, and the kids just don’t snack as much. When they do ask for food, I offer them veggies. Sometimes they accept, sometimes they decide they’re not really that hungry. I, however, am a snacker, but mostly because I get bored at work. The days I’m home I don’t snack much at all.

    Also, I didn’t know that the night time snack was a normal thing! I firmly and adamantly do not allow eating after dinner and I secretly enjoyed denying one of my daughters friends her (apparantly) usual before bed snack. It went like this, probably around 8pm, after a dinner where we all got plenty to eat:
    girl: Meesha, I’m hungry.
    me: ok, we’ll have breakfast in the morning
    girl: But, I’m hungry
    me: I know, honey. Go to sleep and we’ll have a good breakfast tomorrow.
    girl: But I’m hungry! (really, she persisted!)
    me, nicely, after a long level stare: you can keep saying your hungry and I will keep saying we’re having breakfast or you can just go back to bed.

    She looked at me for a few seconds, deciding if she wanted to press on or give up. Then she gave up and went back to bed. Despite the success, I mostly just felt bad for her parents who, I think, get totally pushed around by her.

    it’s hard, when you attempt to make healthy choices for your family, to have them undermined everywhere! Your comment makes me realize that if we would even just make snacks healthy: apple slices, carrot sticks, green pepper fingers … kids would both learn to enjoy these things more and probably eat fewer snacks. But you’re right: so often they’re crap. (And don’t get me started on junk food masquerading as ‘healthy’. Chocolate chip- and marshmallow-studded granola bars? Puh-lease…)

    I love how you handled your daughter’s friend, and you know? I would take just the exact same sort of satisfaction in the exchange. Hee. I have less sympathy than you do for her parents, though. As you just demonstrated, she is indeed manageable: she just needs to know that the adult is going to stick to their guns. If you can do it, so could they, though they’d have to weather fiercer resistance at first, certainly.

    Comment by Meesha | January 29, 2013 | Reply

    • Yeah! Don’t get ME started on “healthy” junk food either!!! (“Juice” boxes and real fruit gummies, anyone?? It’s just different ways to package sugar.) They don’t try to disguise it much around here, for better or worse. My kindergartener came home the other day and said they’d had brookies for a friend’s party in class. What is a brookie, you ask? A cookie on a brownie. Because a cookie or a brownie alone is apparently not enough? And this is after a school-wide request at the beginning of the year that people don’t bring junk food to school. It is totally disregarded and people just overlook it. If I didn’t work full time and had more time to spend volunteering at school, I would so be THAT PARENT, making a big stink about brookies for birthdays and lucky charms used for math lessons.

      Comment by Meesha | February 12, 2013 | Reply

  5. Thank you!!! I have wanted to cut out our morning snack but have felt guilty about it. I have some picky eaters in my dc and I know much of their refusal to eat is because they know we will be having a snack in another hour anyway. And I’ll admit that part of the reason I keep it is because it is so engrained in our routine.

    I’ve found it far easier than I expected to eliminate the morning snack. Far easier. Only one child asks about it — and bang on 10 every morning, too. She has an extremely accurate stomach clock! Even she takes the explanation at face value, no problem at all. If you go this route, I hope your charges are as amenable.

    If I’d seen behaviour problems in the under-twos, I might have considered giving them a snack … but I’d have ramped up my activities and non-food distraction first, to see if that was all that was required. As I say, though, the 17-month-olds have made the change with nary a blip. How’s about that??

    Comment by Kate | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  6. Yes! I’m so glad you’re posting about this! I totally agree about the pickyness aspect– natural hunger should be our ally in teaching kids to enjoy good food! If I let my kids snack all afternoon (or sometimes at all, it seems), they don’t eat supper, and I put a lot of energy into making yummy and nourishing suppers. And if they decide to be picky and complain of hunger at bedtime I say, “Oh, I guess you should have eaten more food when it was available at suppertime. You’ll be fine until breakfast!”

    And it makes me crazy as well that every activity has to involve a snack (and it’s usually sugary). Baseball practice ends right at suppertime… can’t we just go home and eat?

    Yes. I like cooking, but it is an effort, and I like my efforts to be appreciated, not rebuffed by kids with tummies too full to be interested. When we do have them, our snacks are healthy, but still, mealtimes are fun, social times if everyone gathers with an appetite for food and company.

    Yes! Why does every activity have to involve a snack? When we go to playgroup, I leave early to avoid it: why would I feed them a snack at 10:30, when we eat lunch at 11:30 anyway? They wouldn’t even think of eating anyway, if they didn’t see other kids eating. They’re too busy running, climbing, riding. Playing at playgroup, eating at the dining table at home. What a concept… :-D

    Comment by rosie_kate | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  7. I’m the same way over here…we do have a morning and afternoon snack but I drop it if people are picking at their meals. I also use the phrase – “That’s great – you’ll be nice and hungry for lunch!” I tend to limit their consumption somewhat at meals and definitely at snack – especially of the high fat stuff. I give the kids an appropriate portion – and perhaps small seconds if there are some – and then tell them they can have more fruit, veggie, etc. if they’re still hungry. My middle child ALWAYS complains of hunger but when I offer healthy alternatives (an apple, carrots, etc.) she’ll complain. My mantra: “If you’re not hungry enough for something healthy then you’re not really hungry!”

    Comment by Lindsey @ If I had a million hours... | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  8. This is a pet peeve of mine! I have two daughters. When my older daughter had swimming lessons there was another mom there who also had a toddler. He always had a snack. The other mom commented the first week about my daughter not snacking and I said we’d had breakfast right before the lesson. The second week she started bringing snacks for my daughter too! I always declined them, but I think she really thought my daughter was deprived!

    Comment by Hannelore | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  9. I used to carry goldfish and graham crackers with me everywhere, too, but one day I looked at how many snacks my daughter (then 2) was eating, and thought “This is crazy!” so I just stopped buying them. A few times, she really wanted a snack, so I’d do the same thing, where I’d tell her how yummy lunch was going to be, in just a little bit. Worked great! Now my daughter is a 7-year-old, and gets a snack at school (they have a farm-to-school program where locally grown veggies and fruits are brought in for the kids to eat 3 days a week, and the kids have crackers the other two days, and they have milk with their snack) in the morning, and I give her a snack when she gets home because I find she concentrates better on her homework if I let her have a pear/apple/carrots/muffin before she starts, but my kids also don’t get a bedtime snack. My 4-year-old son gets more snacks throughout the day right now, but I think he’s genuinely hungry–he spent the last year in cancer treatments and now that he’s done with those, I think his body’s trying to catch up to where he should be, growth wise (he’s grown over half an inch in the last two months and gained three pounds since his treatments ended. He’s up to 35 lbs!). I think as his body gets back to normal, though, we’ll go back to fewer snacks. I figure that if he’s truly hungry, he’ll be happy to accept fruit or vegetables as a snack. If not, he’s probably bored instead of hungry. He gets mad sometimes when I won’t feed him a snack after dinner (not sure why–I’ve never given him one in his life), but I I just remind him that he had plenty of opportunity to eat at dinner, and won’t breakfast taste great in the morning?

    Comment by Kristy | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  10. I’ve always felt a bit guilt ridden by not doing snacks for the kids and not carrying food with me, when everyone around me seems to have a mid morning snack and an afternoon one and encourage the drinking of massive amounts of milk (which surely means less intake of other foods? I’m talking 2 year plus here). However, I do struggle when my kids come home after childcare and 2 year old has not had a nap and is hungry/thirsty/tired and generally so full of tears that I can’t manage to cook dinner. So it’s either no dinner for the whole family (and cuddles for her) or letting her snack – not ideal because she’s a fussy eater anyway and clearly having snacked right before dinner isn’t conducive to intake of any food other than her favourite. But sometimes something has to give. I had some fun tonight watching her clear opposition to kale and cheese pastie after filling up on snacks “I no like it I no wanna eat it”. Now there’s a surprise. More for me then! yum yum.

    Comment by cartside | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  11. YES! My son is terrible for boredom-eating. On long car trips, he has said “I’m hungry” as we’re literally still in the lunch restaurant parking lot. I’ve had an even tougher time trying to convince my mommy-peers (my children are 7 and 4) that kids that age don’t need to eat every hour any more. I end up feeling like the bad mom because I’m “ill-equipped” with no food for a short afternoon outing.

    And a bedtime snack has always seemed insane to me – why on earth would you tank them up when you’re trying to wind them down?

    Comment by Lisa | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  12. This happens in Australia too. I have friends and family who wouldn’t think of leaving the house without a lunchbox full of food. Their kids eat chocolate and biscuits and fruit during a 10 minute car ride.

    In our house, we do have 6.30am breakfast, 9.30am morning tea, 12.30pm lunch, 3.30pm afternoon tea and 6.30pm dinner. Morning and afternoon tea times consist of one piece of fruit OR a cup of yoghurt OR a slice of cheese and some crackers. Its not a meal, its a snack.

    Some friends feed their kids breakfast at 8am and then snacks at 9.30. If you’re kids are eating that late, they surely can wait til lunch. Because we are up and out of the house by 7.30am, its a long wait from breakfast at 6.30am to 12.30pm for lunch. Mind you, my boys are only 15 months and almost 6 years.

    Also, there is NEVER a snack before bed. In our house, there is just not time. You have dinner at 6.30 and are in bed by 7.15pm. There is not even dessert, just a healthy dinner. If you don’t feel like eating it, that’s okay, but there is nothing else til breakfast.

    I have one friend who told me her 6 year old son often wakes her in the middle of the night to say he’s hungry….and she feeds him!!!

    Also, what is your take on boys eating more. My soon to be six year old boy is HUNGRY! He eats all his breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner every day. He does not have an ounce of extra fat on him, he is lean and active and energetic, but HUNGRY.

    Also, I notice the connection between TV and food. Whenever he sits down to watch TV, he immediately asks for something to eat. When he is outside playing, he never asks for food.

    Comment by Tammy | January 29, 2013 | Reply

  13. We do not snack in the car. Never have, so my kids don’t expect it. Just water bottles. Our car is neat and clean. I wish I’d been on that board to support the mother. The only times we eat in the car is if we’re on a 3 hour or longer long car trip, and then only things that are easy to clean up.

    Our elementary school has morning snack and lunch, and their afterschool program has afternoon snack, so yes, my kids ate 5 times a day. Not much I could do but pack small, healthy snacks. Now, in middle school, they’ve cut out morning snack at least.

    Comment by Lynn | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  14. I also used to feel like the bad mom because I didn’t bring snacks to every play date. Sheesh. And it made me insane when my son started Kindergarten and they provided “snacks” like flavored Doritos, which he had never had previously. However, the one place I totally support snacks is for kids who are doing high energy activities like soccer. I’m a runner and I can see that I perform much better on a 90 minute run if I eat something after about 45-50 minutes. So, I think soccer players do need their oranges at half time. Our kids dance and after back-to-back dance classes, they are famished. But honestly, I found the snack production business tiresome even for infants so it’s been easy to drop it.

    Comment by Sarah | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  15. [...] something you DO with toddlers. Cue my surprise when someone I respect very much, NotMaryP, posted a blog yesterday about how she’s trying to cut out snacking from her daily routine with the kids. Hmm. Can you do [...]

    Pingback by To Snack or Not to Snack? « Life In Pint-Sized Form | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  16. My 8th grade son has gone back to having a morning snack this year, because it is super long between breakfast and lunch. He eats breakfast at home at 7 and lunch isn’t until after 1pm. His 3rd period teacher (around 11 am) allows them to eat a snack if they have brought one, so he usually has a granola bar then.

    When my kids were little and would get into the clingy, hungry mode right before dinner, I started fixing the veggies first and if they wanted to eat their dinner veggies first, that was ok with me. Somehow, the veggies were much more interesting when they were really hungry then, than they were half an hour later with the rest of dinner there also. This may explain why my older kid still only wants his veggies raw though…

    Comment by Katherine | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  17. Katherine – I do that too! When they wander into the kitchen at 5:45 asking when’s dinner and can they have a snack, there are the chopped veggies on the table ready to snitch, and snitch they do.

    Comment by Lynn | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  18. [...] I was reading at  It’s Not All Mary Poppins and Mary has an excellent post about snacking that reminded me just how strongly I feel about the whole issue.  In a response to one of her [...]

    Pingback by Food is NOT Fun – Part Two « What's On The Menu Today… | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  19. I so wish you had been writing your blog when my kids were younger :-) (they are now 15, 11, and 8). I agree about 95 % with this post. My caveat is… if the child is eating a high-carb, low protein breakfast, they could well be having a blood sugar low around 10 or 11 that presents as hunger. Which is easily solved by making sure they eat a more nutritious breakfast than a bowl of rice krispies and a glass of OJ, but I didn’t see anything wrong with that type of breakfast until pretty recently (hey, rice krispies don’t have sugar…). My 15 year old has fainted about 4 times in her life, every time was around 11am when she was at a function where a) she had to stand for a long time and b) she didn’t have a late-morning snack.

    Anyway… I’m clearly not a nutritionist. But… I’d say in general… make sure the breakfast is high in protein and very low in simple carbs.

    Comment by Anita | January 30, 2013 | Reply

  20. Great post, I really do agree with what you’ve said, but I’ve noticed that the reasons (besides food program rules) for me offering snack is more for me to pass the time, not so much in the morning but at the end of the day. It just helps me stretch the last hour if we include a light afternoon snack. I do not always offer it though…I sort of go with how the day is going and I really keep it light since I spend a lot of time cooking, baking and planning the main meals-I want them to eat them!

    It really bugs me in the morning when I find out the parent’s (some) are giving their kids snacks in the car etc on the way here! Then “shocker” they pick at breakfast…so annoying, just tell your child “you will get to eat soon, at daycare”

    http://www.homedaycareandme.wordpress.com

    Comment by jbjokne | January 31, 2013 | Reply

  21. I have four boys. We don’t do any snacks. Really. It’s a rare, rare day when my children get food in between meals. And the result is amazing! They actually eat dinner. If they are hungry, they eat extra helpings. We do have dessert after dinner, often a cookie or some other small sweet. I have long thought the children whose parents say they “never eat” are the same kids who are fed constant snacks.

    Comment by Rachel | February 2, 2013 | Reply

  22. [...] recall that I’ve tweaked our eating patterns at Mary’s house. No more morning snack! Instead, snack is tacked on to the end of lunch, and [...]

    Pingback by Menu Monday « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | February 4, 2013 | Reply

  23. [...] the lovely Not Mary P wrote a post about snacking, and how in her professional opinion kids do entirely too much of [...]

    Pingback by the end of snacks « Hodgepodge & Strawberries | February 6, 2013 | Reply

  24. [...] few of you have asked how it’s going since we quit morning snacking in the [...]

    Pingback by No-Snacking Check-in « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | February 12, 2013 | Reply

  25. [...] children. I’ve spoken before about my experiment — now ranked as a success — in reducing the amount of snacking amongst the daycare kids. A few people had questions, based on some ubiquitous parenting wisdom. [...]

    Pingback by Food, food, food « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | February 27, 2013 | Reply

  26. […] back at the end of January, I re-jigged our food schedule. No more snacking at Mary’s! (Now, I’d have kept up the afternoon snack had the children not already been […]

    Pingback by Eating 101: They’re acing it! « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | May 14, 2013 | Reply


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