Advanced search

My 3 year old asks for snacks constantly. Should I give them to him?

(24 Posts)
mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:07:47

I'm not sure if I should assume he's hungry. I do get the impression he does this when bored. I know I shouldn't give him unhealthy snacks like biscuits. But if he's eating his meals ok. Is it ok to give him healthy snacks when he says he's hungry?
He isn't overweight.

Up until now food has always been about praising him for eating well. I am only just now encountering a slightly strange constant hunger. And not sure if we are getting him into bad habits.


imperialstateknickers Fri 12-Oct-12 17:11:14

So long as he continues to eat proper meals at proper times, no reason why not. My dds are allowed to forage in the fruit bowl at will and have now made it to teenagerhood without disaster grin

DinosaurSchool Fri 12-Oct-12 17:12:09

I would. My dc's go through phases of being constantly hungry (possibly growth spurts?). I do tend to give them snacks unless its very close to a meal time. Someone once told me the genius reply to "But I'm hungry mummy" whining: "Oh that's great, that means you'll eat all your dinner"

I give a small snack and a glass of water. Try it for a week or so and see if it affects his eating at meal times.

TeaBrick Fri 12-Oct-12 17:14:59

Just as an aside, I'm not sure that anyone should be praised for "eating well". It might encourage him to eat more than he needs. Just my opinion. I also think you should give him food when he asks for it, but let him decided when he's had enough.

Beamur Fri 12-Oct-12 17:15:06

I'd say perhaps not - especially if you think it is boredom rather than hunger - I could be wrong, but this seems to be a form of emotional eating which would be a poor habit to establish.
Could you try distracting him with an activity and perhaps say when the next meal/snack is due. I.e - 'it's not dinner time for an hour, shall we go and do X instead for a little while?'
Saying that I would not deprive a genuinely hungry child of food - could he be thirsty rather than hungry sometimes?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 12-Oct-12 17:16:19

Is he asking for specific things, or is he just saying he's hungry?

My two (4 and 18 months) are always hungry when we get back from school pick up, and I quite often give them a small sandwich, or a crumpet, or flapjack with fruit and seeds in it and also some fruit.
If they say 'no I don't want an apple I want a biscuit', then they aren't really hungry and therefore they get nothing (except very occasionally!).

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:22:24

Thanks for the quick replies. I do try to give him fruit. But then he's saying straight after he's hungry so I also give him things like pancakes and scones to try and fill him up. But I think he's starting to realise snacks are more exciting than meals. For instance he asks for snacks at breakfast time. I say 'no it's breakfast time' and he says 'but I want a snack'. I know he sounds like a brat but he's actually quite well behaved. I'm just trying to figure out how to handle this.
It's hard cos I have a baby to look after and often need to breastfeed baby etc. So I have been giving into his snack requests for an easy life, but just realising we might hav started a bad habit.

nickeldaisical Fri 12-Oct-12 17:24:36

what are your meal times like?

they say that children should have 6 smalle meals rather than 3 normal meals.

so, if your breakfast is at 8, lunch at 12 and tea at 4, then you need to have another snack or meal at 10, 2 and 6.
that can be like a cracker with cheese, or an apple etc. or a slice of toast.

nickeldaisical Fri 12-Oct-12 17:25:21

if he thinks snacks are more exciting, then maybe you should either change what snacks you give him or change what meal food you give him.

why are snacks more exciting?
what food do you give him for snacks?

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:34:03

Snacks tend to be bananas, grapes (lots of) , baby bells, scones, pancakes, and fruit filled baked cereal bars. I also giv him things like toddler organic gingerbread men. And also the occasional biscuit like jaffa cakes. Not the healthiest list, but could b worse I think. Have a feeling you are all going to slate me.
I do also do bread with butter sometimes to make snacks seem a bit more boring.
He likes his dinners. Gets a lot of home made pasta dishes.And the odd fish finger. And sometimes toddler ready meals (Anabel Karmel types).

Hope I have just set myself up to be flamed.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 12-Oct-12 17:35:39

What are you giving him for his meals? If he is asking for a snack very soon after a meal - or instead of a meal - then you do need to think about what he is getting.

My 18 month old's food today is this

8am - slice of peanut butter on toast
mid-morning - banana
12.30 - 1 slice of baked beans on toast, most of a punnet of blueberries
4pm - malt loaf and an apple and half a digestive biscuit
6pm - lamb chop, jacket potato, broccoli, carrots - yoghurt for pudding and more fruit if he is still hungry.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 12-Oct-12 17:39:01

No I'm not going to flame you, there is nothing wrong with anything on that list. His diet overall looks a bit light on protein though - so he probably is hungry and getting a sugar high/low off all the fruit and carbs.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Oct-12 17:41:21

Give him bigger meals but avoid snacks. The French thing of breakfast at 8, lunch at 12, tea at 4, dinner at 8 is very good for avoiding snacking.

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:47:14

Actually That's a good point about the protein. I was just saying the other day hes practically veggie. I put chicken in the pasta dishes but he doesn't like it and spits it out.
His protein is mainly from baked beans and cheese.

He's just running round now eating a dry bagel. My husband got at te shop round the corner. And he's not long finished his dinner!

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 17:53:47

I should say he's just got over a virus where he lost weight. But I dont think that's entirely to blame as this habit had started before the virus.

IllageVidiot Fri 12-Oct-12 18:16:04

One of my DCs is a carb monster - will single out processed carbs like a heat seeking missile but any carbs will do.

I wasn't as vigilant as maybe I should have been as the others just never did and it was only once I watched one dinner with my eyes really open that I realised.

He gets, or seems to, much more feedback from eating carb heavy fruits (always a Banana vs citrus), breads and things that aren't low GI, he is much more affected by blood sugar highs and obviously the blood sugar lows, he needed to eat more frequently otherwise he just smacked into a Bsug dip and felt rubbish. And behaved as such.

I think that his high led into a habit as we often had the same asking for food when I'd tightened up his diet for about 2 months.

I had to approach it like you do when a child is stuck on the refind sugar roundabout. Although our meals had good amounts of proteins (animal and vegetable) and I made sure we started eating protein, then veg, then any starches last so he didn't fill up on them and then start hunting for more food at bedtime; and I changed his snacks to limit his carb intake to fruit and veg (berries, grapes, carrots etc) then the rest was protein. I found with him if I started the day with toast he would then be primed to seek out bread,cakes etc so he gets eggs or low GI type breakfasts.

Now he's older he is actually very good at being sensible and if he's been at a friend's he'll let me know he had a lot of food x and we'll make sure dinner has something guaranteed to carry him over into the morning.

Sorry that was an essay - I think my point is that it's a good time to do as you are and re-assess, he may well feel hungry and a bit yuck if he is like my DC and swapping out some of the pancake/scone etc type rib sticker snacks with higher protein and some of the higher sugar fruits for others may help even it out, he'll be less hungry but have really good building blocks for growing. I wonder if you'll get him up one day next week and he'll have shot up overnight?!

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 19:35:36

Thanks. I'll try and get more protein into his diet. Some eggs perhaps, he's not very good with meat. Think he finds it a bit chewy!

mumtocuddlebundle Fri 12-Oct-12 19:49:44

Amazing by the way, to get such thoughtful and helpful answers. Thanks.

Beamur Fri 12-Oct-12 21:16:28

My DD is veggie - other possible protein sources perhaps to try - hummous, falafal (both chick peas), cheese is good, lentils (maybe a mild dahl) and simple meals with veggie sausages - she will also eat fish which I guess means she not a 'proper' veggie. Fish fingers (frozen or home made) fish cakes and she quite like a simple bit of steamed fish. Fish is much less chewy than meat.

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Fri 12-Oct-12 21:43:29

Sounds normal for a 3 year old. Or 4 or 5 grin

Rule in our house is yes you can have fruit or yoghurt at any time, as long as you eat your meals. We go through a ridiculous amount of both fruit and yogurt!

Also at 3 ish I started to do a picnic lunch for dinner which ds1 loved. So a plate of snacks effectively but we be things like, sliced cucumber, cracker, cheese, carrot, yogurt, chopped apple, cheese breadstick, scone, chopped pepper, strawberries, little jam sandwich-just a mix up of whatever we had in.

I still do them occasionally. More so in the summer.

As long as he's eating healthy ish I wouldn't worry too much.

And my ds1 regularly asks for dry bread to eat confused, even when there's naice things in he could have. Dry bagel is perfectly acceptable wink

MegBusset Fri 12-Oct-12 22:06:11

DS1 had a tiny appetite from weaning til about 3.5yo (and was v skinny) when he suddenly developed an appetite and started catching up with his eating (though has stayed very slim). He had a loooong phase of being a grazer and wanting lots of snacks, I basically let him as long as he was eating a reasonable amount at mealtimes as well. Now (well since he started school really) he seems to be less bothered about snacking and eats a bit more about mealtimes.

As long as over the course of the day he is getting a good balance of food, I would let him snack tbh. The other thing you could try is making meals out of the snacky things he likes, eg for breakfast he could have pancakes, for lunch he could have savoury muffins with fruit/cheese/veg on the side.

bubblesandsnips Fri 12-Oct-12 22:31:44

I don't know - I have always just gone with feeding my children food, just food. Generally. Not mentally deconstructing every morsel that goes past their lips. But, I wouldn't have time for that anyway so.....

They have a very varied healthy/not-so 'healthy' diet including all sorts. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, every day, and snacks. They are energetic and growing - why should they be on a weight watchers regime?!

I tend not to analyse it too closely because children do pick up on it and start to get funny ideas about eating/not-eating/being picky. Eg. if Mummy only lets them eat x or y at a specific point in the day, it may create a bit of an issue tbh.

If your dc eat regularly, have some veg, carbs, protein, dairy and treats,why are you worried? What are you imagining will happen?

IllageVidiot Fri 12-Oct-12 22:42:23

I think that's a little bit of a jump there Bubblesandsnips.

Weight watchers regime!!

Good for you if you're happy.

Good on the OP if she wants to have a quick over view of her child's diet to make sure he actually isn't hungry and his diet is meeting his needs.

There is absolutely no reason there will be a food issue here it will be just as much of an unconsidered habit as eating is now. Nobody has said restrict food or not let him eat when he is hungry - just ensure he isn't hungry inappropriately (i.e. eating a bagel after a full meal) and that the food he has access to is going to help keep him full and happy. But yeah, we're all obviously all crazy parents with food ishoos and it's totally not you that sounds barking

popsypie Fri 12-Oct-12 22:52:23

My six year old dd asks for food constantly! She is skinny and seems to be growing fast lately, but I also don't think she drinks enough. She will have a snack straight after school, then tea at about half four, then a supper style mini meal before bed at 7pm e.g milkshake, fruit salad and yoghurt. We are also encouraging more drinks too.

I don't let it worry me, but sometimes think back to the days when she would say "I full mummy" after a mini packet of raisins!!! wink I would just go with it OP.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now