I Don’t Let My Toddler Snack – Here’s Why

Look, I get it. Toddlers love food. Heck, moms love food. I LOVE food. It’s like, my main love language. And we live in the land of snacking. Bookclubs, meetings, get-togethers. They all have snacks. And you better believe I’m joining in whenever there is food. I’m seriously the first person up out of my chair to grab the food. Honestly and truly, I often pick my seat based on proximity to the food. 😛 🍴

BUT.

I generally don’t let Sander snack. With one very set exception – he gets one simple snack, sitting at the table, when he wakes up from his afternoon nap. But other than that, he eats at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, at the same time and in the same place as we eat, eating the same food the adults eat.

This parenting decision was made years before Sander was even born. I came across the idea in two books I read around the same time – Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, and French Kids Eat Everything, by Karen Le Billon. Both authors lived in France and wrote their observations of how parenting in France is different. And both talked about how French kids don’t snack.

This sounded like a brilliant idea to me. Both books listed the benefits of not allowing your kids to snack, and so far, I’ve found it all to be true. Here’s what I love about being a no-snack mom:

I don't let my toddler snack - here's why

  • Sander’s actually hungry for meals. He eats exactly what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I credit a lot of his being willing to try new foods to him being hungry enough to eat when it’s mealtime. I can think of one time in his 22 months where he’s refused to eat a single bite of his meal. We just let him go to bed without dinner (which, surprisingly, he seemed totally cool with). But other than that, he knows he’s not going to eat again until the next meal. Pretty good incentive to eat, right?
  • I don’t have to have tons of snacks on hand. When Sander was born, we were living in China, and the thought of needing to have snacks available at any moment just sent me into waves of panic. It was such a struggle to find familiar food over there. So I was super on-board with the idea that I really didn’t need to have snacks around that I could rip open and give to a demanding baby at the drop of a hat.
  • I don’t have to bring snacks with me everywhere. I hate the idea that I need to bring enough snacks to keep the grumps away if we’re going to be away from the house for more than an hour or so. Or that I should bring snacks just in case someone starts to feel a bit peckish. It goes back to my whole dislike of needing to find things that are quick AND easy to make or grab, AND able to be eaten on-the-go, AND also, maybe, please a little bit healthy?
  • We all eat together. This is hugely important to me. So much of the family culture is built (or can be, if you let it) around the table, over that stir-fry everyone loves, or while twirling mom’s spaghetti around your fork, or while fighting over who gets the last scoop of the tater tot casserole. If I let Sander snack and he’s not hungry enough to eat while we’re eating, how likely is it I’m going to fight him to stay sitting at the table with us while I try to enjoy my own food? Um, not likely, that’s how much. And that feels like such a loss.
  • I don’t have to answer the same question a zillion times a day. “Snack? Snack?” 😩 There’s no negotiating that he can have a snack after he plays for 10 more minutes, no looking at the clock to see how long it is until lunch time, no trying to gauge how many granola bars are left until we need to panic. Nope. None of that. At this age, Sander usually only asks for a snack when he wakes up from his nap, which is exactly when he gets one. He may start to ask more when he’s older, but even then, it’s just the same answer every time and takes no thinking on my part. We’ll eat at the next mealtime.
  • It helps me not to graze all day too! Once we got to the point where Sander could see me eating and understand what I was doing, I stopped snacking as much. I wish I could say it was because I was trying to be fair to my child by following the same rules I set for him, but if I’m being honest, it’s more because I don’t want to be pestered to share my food. 😬
  • There aren’t crumbs all over the house. Like I said, we all eat together, at the table. Which means I’m not constantly finding bits of smashed cereal bars on the carpet, or soggy puffs on the window sill, or smears of peanut butter on the DVD player.
  • I’m not spending much time making snacks. I mean, I already make breakfast (actually Terry makes breakfast), lunch, and dinner. I don’t need to add more to my proverbial plate.

I don't let my toddler snack - here's why

So far, this has been an awesome rule for us.

However, I think it’s important to realize, this rule is way more about me than it is about Sander. It’s about making my own life easier, so I can be a happier, more relaxed mama. I think there are some definite benefits to Sander too, but if you’re choosing to let your kid snack, I by no means think you’re doing something wrong. Kids can (and do!) grow up to be great people, whether or not they’re allowed to snack as a child. No judgement here.

And if I come to a book club you’re hosting, I definitely hope there are snacks. (I’ll even bring it myself, if you want. Maybe some pomegranate guacamole??? 💜💜💜)

2 comments

  1. Interesting read. I definitely subscribe to the 5 smaller meals through the day theory, and as such my kids get a snack. Saying that, it’s nothing elaborate. Perhaps some dried fruit, or some pretzels. We also generally have snack sitting at the table, as they do in nursery school. I also run errands with my children, and I notice that at mid morning, they start to get cranky. If I pack a simple box of raisins in my bag, everyone is much happier.

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  2. too much snacking def. can take away from interest in meals – one reason why I usually serve dinner pretty early. I will say though that everyone in my house (myself included) seems to need a couple snacks throughout the day. My school age kiddos have a scheduled snack at school as part of their routine. My older boys are also playing sports and very active and really need healthy snacks to fuel them.

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