Organix is increasingly concerned about the amount of unnecessary ingredients found in some baby finger foods and toddler snacks. I’ve been one of their No Junk Mums for a while and was delighted when they asked me to join their Junk Buster Panel.
Snacking for Toddlers and Babies in the 1980s, 90s, 2000s…
Now try to remember what baby and toddler snacks were like 15, 20 or 30 years ago. What would young children get as a snack? Thinking back, I don’t think there was much available specifically for toddlers, even less for babies, apart from sugary rusks and the odd baby teething biscuit. Most babies would simply be weaned on veg and fruit purées with a milk bottle in between meals.
When I was weaning my little man 10 years ago, there were a few snacks and finger foods around, but it was only the start of the baby led weaning revolution really, so options were limited and if I’m not mistaken, Organix and Ella’s Kitchen were the only brands I occasionally bought for him when travelling or going out for the day. There are now hundreds of options available to new mums and it’s quite frankly confusing. I’m glad I started this motherhood journey when there was less choice!
It seems like the huge explosion in the variety and number of snacks available for little ones has resulted in standards slipping a bit. I’m not sure how much scrutiny food manufacturers are put under, but I definitely don’t trust all claims on packets…
My Snack Monsters
I feel like I’m forever buying snacks for my children. My four are snack monsters. They snack, snack, snack, snack, snack, snack. When they’re not snacking, they’re asking (begging) for snacks, sneaking into the kitchen to try and grab a snack or they’re busy being angry with me because I’m not quick enough delivering snacks. Life with growing children is like throwing food into a bottomless pit!
Hangry child below. She has just been given a healthy snack. I was clearly too slow delivering it, hence the ‘hangry’ looks in my direction…
In an ideal world, I would be spending all day every day by the stove making the most delicious, wholesome, nutritious snacks for my children, but the reality is I simply don’t have the time to do that, and I need a range of easy healthy snacks I can just grab and stuff in a bag at a moment’s notice.
Right, first thing first…
What are healthy snacks for kids?
First of all, I am not an expert on nutrition so please take everything I say with a pinch of salt (no pun intended!). This is just my perspective as a mum of four children under 10.
As an oversimplification, I’d just say that healthy snacks don’t contain too much refined sugar. They also don’t contain any added salt. Ideally, they’re not too high in saturated fat either.
Here is some useful information I found on the Change4Life part of the NHS website:
“You’ll find traffic light labels on most food and drink, usually on the front of the pack. These labels use red, amber and green colour coding to help us understand what’s inside our food so we can make healthier choices when shopping.
Food labels, also called nutrition labels, show how much sugar, sat fat and salt are inside what we’re buying. When it comes to reading food labels, a good rule of thumb is to go for more greens and ambers, and cut down on reds.”
It doesn’t mean I don’t allow treats that contain sugar, salt or saturated fat. I’m a strong believer in enjoying your food without feeling guilty and having everything in moderation. Strict exclusion diets as a lifestyle choice are not my cup of tea, but I respect those who choose to do so. I want my children to grow up enjoying food, flavours and never feeling guilty, because the last thing I’d want is for them to develop food disorders or worries over food.
My four children have a bit of everything. They love vegetable soup, a good curry, homemade bread and freshly picked fruit. We also opt for fast food from time to time, go to our favourite sweet shop for our birthdays, love pizza and enjoy sweet and salty homemade popcorn. They don’t gorge on salty crisps, fizzy drinks or sweets all day every day.
Added Salt in Toddler Snacks?
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to look at the ingredients list and avoid any snacks with added salt or sugar. I was taken aback by the fact some of the snacks available in the baby and toddler aisle contained as much salt per 100g as a pack of Walkers crisps. Added salt should simply not be allowed in snacks marketed towards babies or toddlers in the supermarket. Full stop. Healthy tasty snacks simply do not require any added salt or refined sugar, as my friend Mandy recently wrote in an article for Metro.
Check this video by Cherry Healey from the BBC show Inside the Factory, who is joining the Junk busting mission to investigate baby finger foods and toddler snacks:
Easiest Healthy Snacks for Kids:
It’s common sense that the quickest and easiest way to provide my four little ones with healthy snacks on the go is to give them a piece of fruit and send them on their way! An apple, a banana or a satsuma can help fill that gap in their tummies mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
Easy Healthy Bits & Bobs for Kids’ Lunchboxes:
Nutritionally sound snacks for kids at school don’t need to be a complicated business either. Here are 10 simple, healthy things you can put in their lunchboxes:
– fruit or veg kebabs
– vegetable sticks
– breadsticks with a small pot of houmous / hummus
– a pot of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
– a piece of cheese
– rice cakes
– a boiled egg
– wholemeal bread with soft cheese spread
– grilled chicken pieces
– leftover pulled meat
– soup in a thermos
Lunchbox and accessories all from my friend Grace’s shop: Eats Amazing
Easy Healthy Snacks from the Supermarket:
Buying snacks… that’s where it gets a bit more tricky
My top tips are:
– Avoid foods with a really long list of ingredients
– Avoid foods with added salt or sugar
– Avoid foods with ingredients you don’t recognise (the simpler the ingredients list, the better)
– If you can afford to go organic, you’ll have the reassurance that what you’re buying has been made to the highest standards
– When in doubt, just use the NHS’ Food Scanner app (App store or Google Play) to scan barcodes and quickly find out whether the snack you’re about to get is classified as green, amber or red (the three things to look out for are sugar, salt and saturated fat)
Other blog posts you might be interested in:
Disclosure: I work with Organix as a No Junk Mum. This blog post is part of our #FoodYouCanTrust journey. All opinions and photos are my own.