Toddlers have smaller tummies, so they need to snack throughout the day to get enough calories and nutrients in their bodies. Giving your children two or three nutritious snacks a day will help supplement their mealtimes and keep their blood sugar (and temperaments) even. However, parents often worry about certain types of snacks and the damage they can do to their children’s teeth, especially when brushing afterwards isn’t much of an option. Here are some good rules of thumb when it comes to giving between-meal snacks to your toddlers.
Cut out the sugary drinks. Juice, soda, and other sugary or fizzy drinks can harm the enamel on the teeth and cause tooth decay. If you give your children a cup of juice as part of a meal, teach them to drink it through a straw and dilute it with water to prevent the acid from harming the enamel on their teeth. Never provide anything other than water or milk in a bottle. Some children may use a bottle as a comfort mechanism, especially at naptime. Filled with a sugary drink, this can become a major cause for tooth decay in toddlers. So by only providing water or milk in a bottle, you can reduce the exposure to sweetened drinks dramatically.
Stick the most natural forms of food. Whole foods are better for your toddler’s teeth as well as their general health. An example of whole foods are apple slices instead of applesauce. Whole foods tend to be lower in sugar, yet they still provide excellent nutrition to your growing youngsters. By avoiding prepackaged and processed foods, you’re also avoiding hidden sugars, which stick to teeth and cause decay. If you need to buy prepackaged foods, read the labels and try to find ones with no added sugar.
Lean protein is a good bet. Cheese cut into bit-sized cubes or chicken breast cut into strips are excellent finger foods for your independent children. They also are naturally low in sugar and easy to pack for trips out of the house. Try cutting them into fun shapes with wedges of apples or halved grapes for a nutritious and interesting snack. Plain yogurt is also a hearty source of protein and great for tiny teeth. Freezing yogurt into popsicle trays with fresh fruit is a delicious way to avoid store-bought, sugar-loaded ice cream treats.
Don’t forget to take snacks with you when you’re leaving the house, so that if your child is hungry, you can offer them something without having to resort to only what you can get at a drive-thru or from a vending machine. Let your children pick out some fruits and veggies that they want to try at the grocery store. It’s a great way to keep them open to new healthy food discoveries. Offering your toddlers a varying selection of snacks will also keep them interested in snacks that are healthy for them and their budding smiles.
This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb The Kid’s Dentist, an Olathe, Kansas provider of comprehensive, high- quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.