Munchkin Meals Link-Up: Challenges

7 Nov

Munchkin Meals

So the idea for this session of Munchkin Meals is challenges that you face with your little one, and how you’ve overcome them (or haven’t).  When Brittany first posted this idea, I thought, Hmmm, I don’t really have any challenges.  Sure, I wish we had a bit more variety in our meals, but eh, he’s not eating chicken nuggets every day (or ever), so it could be worse.  Then, Matty decided to cut 2 molars at once. So, yeah. Teething. Teething is our challenge. More specifically, getting Matty to eat anything while teething.

We have had  a few days over the past couple of weeks where he hasn’t eaten anything.  Maybe a Puff here, or a pretzel stick there, but no real sustenance.  This would freak me out, but he’s still nursing like a mad-man, so I don’t feel that stressed.  I almost wrote this entire post about how this kid Will. Not. Wean. Not even a little.  Ahhh! But now, I’m thanking God that he is still nursing because I don’t have to stress about his nutrition (too much) and it really does help him ride the wave of teething pain.

I found one way to overcome his lack of appetite is to allow him access to snacks all day.  I found, like most toddlers I’m sure, that he’ll eat a few bites at breakfast, then whine 30 minutes later because he’s hungry.   I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I think having multiple small snacks throughout the day keeps blood-sugar levels stable, reducing tantrums.  On the other hand, I fear that too many snacks leads to not eating enough wholesome food at mealtimes.  But, I’m a strong proponent of fostering independence by allowing kids to make their own choices, so I ultimately decided to implement a snack station.

A snack station is mostly attributed to the Montessori school of thought, mostly because it teaches essential life skills, fosters independence, and allows kids to manipulate real-life materials.  But many-a-mom has used this idea in some ways for years and years.

For some really good examples of modern snack stations, check out these links:

Barefoot in Suburbia

A Living Family

Critters and Crayons

Little Red Farm

Most days, I leave any non-perishable foods from breakfast that were leftover, and add a few other items that I’m sure he can handle independently.  So far, this has worked wonderfully.  The biggest challenge so far has been Matty trying to feed his snacks to the cats…

Of course, our little space will change and grow as Matty does.  I have plans to add a drinking station and a place for his plates and silverware (he’s already started to help unload the dishwasher, so I think we’ll be at this stage sooner than I thought, too!).

In addition to snacks, I also leave a sippy cup of water.  This was part of the reason I decided to go ahead with the snack station–I was sick of wondering around the house looking for his cup.  Now, I’m working on teaching him to place his drink back on the table when he’s finished.  It’s going pretty good.

More please, Mom!

Here’s a list of some of the foods I put on his snack tray:

Snack Tray Options for Young Toddlers

  • Puffs
  • Cremes–(Dairy free “yogurt drops” made with rice milk–these will go stale after a few hours)
  • Thin apple slices (peeled)
  • Cheerios
  • Chex Cereal (Gluten Free)
  • Cut Strawberries
  • Shredded Carrots or Baby Carrots (He eats these all the time, so I’m comfortable with this)
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Pretzel Sticks
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Cooked and Rinsed Beans
  • Crackers
  • Goldfish (or Annies Cheddar Bunnies for a more organic option)
  • Frozen Mini-Blueberries
  • Graham Crackers (I made this recipe two weeks ago and he LOVED them.)

It’s usually just a mishmash of what I have leftover in the fridge.  Of course, I know that Matty can handle these foods somewhat independently (I’m never more than a room away from him at any given time), so it’s important to choose foods with low choking hazards.  For instance, Matty likes raisins, but I’m not comfortable with him eating them unsupervised yet.  It really just depends on the kid!

I still offer him a more nutritious snack in the morning and afternoon (when he’s feeling well and actually eating).  His favorite lately is a spoonful handful of peanut butter.

Or dipping anything into peanut butter.  Bear with me for a Mom-Gush–whenever he dips anything he says “dip, dip, dip” and it cracks me up.  Ok, thanks, Anyway, this past week he tried some celery and peanut butter with Grandma.  I think he was a fan.

15 Responses to “Munchkin Meals Link-Up: Challenges”

  1. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast November 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    I love that idea!! My daughter is now 2 1/2 but she will still ask for a snack an hour after breakfast. She now understands if it’s not snack time yet and is okay to wait, but would have definitely benefited from something like this. He is so adorable. I love him licking the pb off his hands!

    • Ashley Niehaus November 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

      Thanks! I think that teaching kids to wait until a proper meal time is so important, too! Finding a balance is the challenge.

  2. kim @ vegan mama November 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    That’s a great idea! We just purchased some of those snack cups so that we could have a few snacks sitting around that Alma (9 months) can get to herself. She’s not quite ready for a tray yet, but I’m keeping that in mind for later. Where do you buy the ‘cremes’?

    • Ashley Niehaus November 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

      I get them at Babies R Us. There’s different flavors. Here’s a link that shows what you’re looking for…

      I tried the snack cups, too. Like the sippy cup, I found that I was looking all over the house to see where he carried it off to. Then again, he could just be a “roamer”. They’re great for the car, though.

      • kim @ vegan mama November 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

        Thanks! I’ve been looking around for different snack options, and I’ve never seen dairy-free ‘yogurt’ melts before. Awesome!

      • Ashley Niehaus November 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

        They’re pretty good…I’ve been known to snack on them myself. 🙂

  3. alivingfamily November 8, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Thanks for the link! Did you see the updated version, a year later?

    I should get another update going. Now I have snacks and plates and such in drawers and cupboards that she gets herself. Amazing process. Hope you are enjoying it, too!


    • Ashley Niehaus November 8, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      I love the idea of the trash bag. Thanks for the update!

  4. closefamilies November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I LOVE the independence thing. I wish I had taught my oldest son more independence when he was young, because trying to break him of the “Mom, can you get….” when it’s something he is totally capable of doing for himself at age six is frustrating at times! I’m definitely starting independence early with our little guy!! 🙂

    • Ashley Niehaus November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      It’s amazing what they really can do for themselves!

  5. Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) November 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    H had always been a good teether, but now that I think her molars are coming in, you’re so right! She doesn’t eat as much. Must be painful.
    I love how you set Matty’s food down on a stool- so cute!

    • Ashley Niehaus November 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

      Thanks! Yep, his first few teeth came in with NO symptoms, but now…phew…I’m going crazy.

  6. critters and crayons (@critterscrayons) November 12, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Thanks so much for mentioning our snack station! Our station is now mostly breads, nut butters, nuts and fruit now….We found that ants were persistent and could not stay out of our honey jar! 🙂 Great post- Placing a stool at toddler height is a perfect idea! 🙂

    • Ashley Niehaus November 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      Thanks! Ants…yes, something to consider this Spring. Lovely.


  1. Munchkin Meals « This Girl's Canon - December 5, 2012

    […] boxed Raisin Bran and shredded carrots to his tray with some leftover strawberries from lunch.  The snack tray is working out great, although he is starting to roam with snacks a bit.  We found a graham cracker in the bed last […]

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