Do children need snacks between meals?

Toddlers and young children have small stomachs and they are unlikely to eat enough energy and nutrients in just three meals per day. They therefore need two (or sometimes three) planned, nutritious snacks per day in addition to their meals.

Remember, children’s appetites vary not only according to their growth spurts and activity levels, but also on their level of tiredness, minor illnesses and if they feel comfortable with other people around them. So it is important to make sure your toddler is well rested, as they will not eat very well if they are tired and cranky! Plan meals and snacks around their nap times.

What is recommended?

For one to two year olds, it is recommended that they need a meal / snack every 2 to 3 hours during the day or 4 to 6 small “feedings” per day, along with a source of milk.

For children over the age of two, there are no definite recommendations but I would recommend offering 2 snacks per day (mid-morning and mid-afternoon) with the key being the TIMING of the snack. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of SCHEDULED snacks – be prepared! Don’t get caught out and be bullied into buying something inappropriate for your children as they are nagging!! Timing of the snacks is very important – try to make sure that the snack is half way between meals.

Any suggestions?

  • Fresh fruit is ideal – as dried fruit is not great for children’s teeth, its best to be given as part of a meal for example dried cranberries and raisins with plain yoghurt or as part of a recipe (see ‘Oaty snack bars’)
  • Veggie sticks with dips eg. Soft cheese, cream cheese, hummus
  • Cheese cubes, apple slices and a cracker
  • Mini sandwiches with cucumber/carrot/pepper sticks
  • Plain homemade popcorn
  • Breadsticks with fresh fruit
  • Small pot of yoghurt or fromage frais
  • Toast / pitta bread with a spread and baby tomatoes

See for more ideas and tips.

Recipe ideas:

Carrot and Courgette Muffins


This recipe is from ‘Little Cooks’ – a cooking class for toddlers and young children (

I have been taking my youngest daughter to these cooking classes and she loves them! Try to get your toddler involved with this recipe as it is easy enough for them to make and they will love tasting what they have made!


1 carrot, peeled and grated

½ courgette, grated

190g self-raising wholemeal flour

A handful of sultanas

1 Tbsp brown sugar

120ml milk

1 egg, beaten

4 Tbsp vegetable oil


Add the flour and sugar to a bowl and mix together, then add the grated carrot, courgette and sultanas.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, milk and oil with a fork and add to the other ingredients. Mix all ingredients together.

Spoon the mixture into 12 cupcake cases in a muffin tin. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.

Top Tip – if a recipe calls for sugar, try decreasing the amount used by a half – you’d be surprised by how sweet it still tastes!  Or try substituting sugar and butter with mashed bananas – as in the ‘Oaty snack bar’ recipe in my earlier post.

Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweet corn is great as it contains ‘slow release’ energy, so it will keep the children full for longer. Try as an after school snack on their own or served with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber sticks, peppers and slices of chicken for a delicious meal.


100g self-raising flour

1 large egg

150ml milk

200g tinned sweetcorn kernels

Vegetable oil for frying


Sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and gradually beat in the milk to form a smooth batter.

Drain the sweetcorn kernels thoroughly and add the kernels to the batter mix. Add the oil to the frying pan and fry spoonfuls of the mixture for about 2 minutes on each side.


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