There are many topics under this snacks category and I have many opinions on snacking for kids! So today sparked my first topic: snacking at the playground. This is the scene that occurred today, but is not unlike any other day. I was at the playground with my 23 month-old son and there is another mom with her daughters; I will guess ages 2 ½ and 3 ½ . The older daughter has a bag of “brightly, artificially colored cheese-flavored fried, puffed corn snacks” here on out I will call “cheesy puffs”. Now this is not a small, lunch-box friendly size bag, but a large (2.5-3 serving) bag you find in a vending machine, which is exactly where the mother purchased the snack. The girl is happily munching on her snack and walking around the playground. She offers one to my son, who has not had this snack before; he is more interested in watching and playing with her. I politely say, “no thank you” for him, but I am thinking, “get that stinky, messy, gross snack out of his face!” Meanwhile, the other girl is fussing because she is not happy with her packaged cookie snack her mother also bought from the vending machine. Fussing and fussing and then fussing about wanting the cheesy puffs, so what does the mother do? (Pause and think…) Does she have the older daughter share her large “snack” with the younger one? Nope. Tells the girls we are walking back to the car to get another quarter and then go back to the vending machine so the 2 ½ year old has her own bag of cheesy puffs. What happened here?
- The type of snack is typical, yes, but is it nutritious for the young growing bodies?
- The size of the snack for children this age was off the charts!
- Mom gave in to the whining and solved the problem by giving the 2 year old exactly what she wanted even after she had a snack that the child originally picked out!
This scenario happens every day. Even though these girls are not overweight, they are learning that cheesy puffs are a great (perhaps daily) food and that if they cry hard enough, they will get their way, whether it is right or not.
There are many studies that have shown that preschool kids know what they like: Oregon). The problem is that even though there are low-fat, whole grain, nutrient-rich foods offered at the schools, kids are already programmed since toddlerhood and late infancy to (only??) accept high fat, high salt, high sugar foods. This will stop if parents offer fruits, vegetables, WHOLE grains, low-fat protein foods and non-fat yogurt/milk as snacks when children start eating whole foods…and at the playground. Now get out there and play hard and eat REAL food-for your children’s health……