Toddler Snack Stations

Okay, here is what I did with the snack jars.

I fill them up with healthy Dibits snacks and put them into this bin.

Oooh, pretty.  When I took this picture, the bin contained two pouches of that to-go applesauce stuff that I bought for the trip.  I keep hoping Elizabeth will change her mind and like it because I think it awesome.  I mean, applesauce with peaches?  How could that be bad?  But Elizabeth is not impressed, I think she doesn’t like an applesauce texture when she is expecting juice.  So I ate those myself.

The snack jars are filled with grapes and raspberries at the moment.  Sometimes I put in things like cut up peaches,  cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, or leftover pasta.

This snack station lives in the fridge on the bottom shelf.  Elizabeth can open the fridge herself, so she is welcome to get out a snack whenever she wants.  (The individual servings of chocolate milk are leftovers from the trip too.  Normally she has two thermos cups in there, one with milk and one with water.)

I had a question on the last post about whether I worried about Elizabeth breaking the jars because they are glass.  Not really.  I’ve taught her to be careful with things like this and baby food jars are made out of pretty sturdy glass.  We’ve dropped them before but haven’t had any break.  If we had the hard tile floors that we had in the last house, I might be more worried though.

We also have a toddler snack station in the pantry.

In here, I keep things like bagged cereal, graham crackers, dried fruit, animal crackers, Annie’s bunnies, pretzels, and yogurt drops.  (It’s a little heavy on the sweet snacks right now, leftovers from the trip.)

This bin has things like fruit leather, raisins, and all the reusable fabric bags that I grab to take snacks on the go.

Elizabeth can’t get into the pantry by herself (she’s been known to try to scale the shelves to get to the things like the canister of chocolate chips I keep on a higher shelf), but she knows to ask one of us to open it for her.  She’s also been known to quietly follow Matt or I into the pantry and select a snack without us really noticing her.

The point of the toddler snack stations is to allow Elizabeth full time access to things that I don’t mind her eating.  Treats are kept three shelves higher, where she can’t reach.  I’ve found that since we’ve implemented the snack stations, we have a lot fewer meltdowns from hunger because it is now something that she can take care of on her own.  Yes, it does mean that occasionally she eats two containers of grapes and a bag of crackers right before dinner and isn’t hungry, but I am okay with that.  (When she gets older, I’ll probably put a “no snacks after ___” rule on them, but for now, I am good with this.  I think it has only happened once or twice anyway.)  She’s also happier to eat healthy snacks now because she is choosing them herself.

Another thing I plan to do when she gets a little older is to add another box with treats.  Each day, I will put her total amount of allowable treats into it and she can decide when she eats them.  (I suspect it will start with her eating them all before breakfast for a while, but I am thinking eventually she will learn the concept of delayed gratification.)

Every few weeks, I have to spend an hour or so refilling a bunch of little bags with snacks to keep the snack station full.  (But not for a while now, did you see this?)  I refill the refrigerator snacks when they run out with whatever we have handy that will fit into the jars.

The toddler snack station idea makes Elizabeth responsible for her own snacks.  She likes the responsibility and I like not having to remember to give her snacks during the day.  We’ve had a lot fewer meltdowns from hunger and she loves feeling like she has some control over her life.