A few days ago, I shared a few hilarious ways that I have parented my girls differently… I hope you thought it was as funny as I did. But during the post, one area I realized that I parented my girls the same was in the food they eat. Although I’ve always been “real” when I let you know that getting them to eat vegetables is sometimes a challenge.
What isn’t a challenge is getting them to eat snacks. Moreaya is my grazer. She’d be happy to eat small snacks all throughout the day instead of sitting down for meals at the table. This is good, because really it’s a healthier way to eat [IF I can keep the treats at bay], but it’s also a challenge because she’s constantly asking for a snack… constantly.
It’s frustrating to her and me when I explain that she can’t have a pack of fruit snacks every time she requests, which lead me to creating our DIY Independent Toddler Snack Basket.
Toddlers want to be independent, right? So instead of fighting that independence at snack time, encourage it. That’s exactly what I’ve done with Moreaya – making her snack choice be just that, her choice. And I’m excited to share our system because it is so simple and will save you so much headache and frustration [for you AND your toddler].
First things first, you need snacks. Both of my girls love pouches so including Sprout Organic fruit pouches in our snack basket is a no-brainer. In addition to pouches, I added in fresh fruit, organic crackers, organic fruit snacks, and these cute little vegetable and fruit cut-outs.
Since I can’t keep carrots sticks or broccoli right in the basket, I printed these great fruit and vegetable printables from Happiness is Homemade. I let the girls in on the creation of the snack basket by letting them color them and it actually made them excited to add broccoli, carrots, strawberries, and more to the basket!
Now you have a basket full of snacks, but how do you make it perfect for independent toddlers?
I chose to use a simple, three color system. You could use little colored dot stickers [like the ones you often see used for yard sale stickers] or I simply cut up some of my washi tape collection for our Independent Toddler Snack Basket. Here’s the system we’re using:
- Green = GO!
This snack can be chosen at anytime! Moreaya knows if there’s a green sticker, she can choose it without even asking. I reserve green for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as snacks like organic fruit pouches.
- Red = STOP! Snacks
Snacks marked with a red sticker mean Moreaya has to stop and ask before she can eat them. I reserve the red sticker for snacks like crackers, chips, pretzels, etc. These snacks are more likely to be eaten in the afternoon after preschool or after a nap.
- Blue = AFTER DINNER!
The “blue” snacks are usually more of treats than snacks and are reserved for after dinner and on special occasions after lunch.
By using colored stickers on each snacks, it makes it super simple and easy for kids to independently pick out appropriate snacks, depending on the type of snack and the time of day. It’s definitely eliminated the frustration Moreaya used to have when it would come to her asking for a “treat” all day long.
By labeling fresh fruit and vegetables and organic fruit pouches like the Plum, Apple, & Blueberry Superfruit Sprout Organics pouch green, it’s also encouraging both girls to eat more vegetables and fruit every day!
Making a quick trip to the Independent Toddler Snack Basket before we head out to soccer practice or school pick-up has also made those transitions easier.