How Often Should Children Eat?
15 June 2018 • Food
We’ve all seen videos of people giving a lemon to a baby to suck on, but have you ever seen anyone try giving a lemon to a toddler? Babies have very adventurous taste buds but as they grow into their toddler’s years they usually become less agreeable at meal times. According to the Institute of Medicine this can be explained by the growth rate of children. After your baby's first year their growth slows down by about 30 percent, which in turn may affect their appetite.
From 6 months most babies are more willing to try different foods, flavours and textures as their taste buds develop. By a year old they start to develop a taste for foods they like, those who have not had the opportunity to try a wide variety of tastes and textures are more likely to be fussy eaters. As a child develops through these stages their nutritional needs change and their required daily calorie intake slowly decreases as they get older.
How often should children eat?
Nutritionists recommend that young children and teenagers should eat every three to four hours, as overeating can be caused by long periods of time between meals due to hunger. Recommendations from the Institute of Medicine state that a usual day should consist of three meals and two or three snacks. This ensures that their body has time to digest food in preparation for the next meal, also helping prevent children from overeating during mealtimes.
It is believed that having a mealtime schedule for children encourages a healthy appetite by allowing them to be better prepared to eat as they have an idea of when the next meal time is. This helps them to monitor their own hunger, developing a sense of when they are full without the worry of not knowing when they will eat next.
Nutritionists tips for how you can promote healthy eating habits at home;
- Let your child know that it will soon be meal time a few minutes before
- Have a mealtime schedule that includes snacks
- Try to eat only in designated areas of your home such as the dining room or kitchen
How we support healthy snacking at nursery
Alongside breakfast, lunch and tea, we have two snack times during the day - roughly around 10am and 2pm.
During snack time the children enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables and partake in discussions and songs about the importance of healthy eating.
At Abacus Ark we are passionate about ensuring our children receive the nutrition and knowledge required for them to develop healthy eating habits. Our new ‘Honesty Box’ initiative will help support you in managing a mealtime schedule.
What is an Honesty Box?
"A container into which members of the public are trusted to place payments when there is no attendant to collect them."
If you would like to give your child a snack when you collect them, you will find a selection of healthy snacks in the entrance area of each of our nurseries (starting with a trial at Clapham this month). These snacks are available to purchase so you can avoid a visit to the shop on your way home! You will find a price list and money box to pay.