Snacking all the time

My baby is 7 months old and wants to snack all the time… how much should I allow?

Mothers are naturally worried about letting baby snack between mealtimes. After all, we have been primed to know that a fat baby is not a healthy baby. However, babies are very orally orientated , everything going straight into the mouth. Other than providing baby with the happiness of oral gratification, snacks in moderation can play an important support role between feeds.

Snacking can be learning. At mealtimes a baby is spoon fed. At snack time he can pick up a snack, and put it into his mouth himself. No small feat when you are tiny and have very little co-ordination.

Snacks can supplement. Babies have small stomachs and become hungry quickly after mealtimes. Unlike adults it is difficult to last from meal to meal without a snack. And as baby moves on to solids, snacks are important to supplement the full range of nutritional needs.

Snacks can change the pace. Just like a snack on an aeroplane, no matter how small, can break the time span of a flight for an adult, a snack can change the pace of the day for a baby. It’s something different to do.

Snacks pave the way to solids. Snacks lessen the need to nurse between mealtimes. And when the time comes, a baby that knows snacking is easier to train to solids.

Also consider the following.

When to snack. Not too close to mealtimes.. schedule about half way between, no more. And then one more snack if there’s a long spell before bedtime, or if a mealtime is going to be delayed and baby is clearly hungry. Too much snacking gets baby used to oral gratification, a bad habit for weight gain when baby grows to childhood. And a mouth constantly full of food leads to tooth decay. Also avoid the temptation to give baby a snack as a bribe for being strapped into a pushchair or car. Like adults, eating on the go, is a bad habit!

Don’t offer snacks if baby is bored (offer a toy), or hurt (soothe him with a cuddle), or has done well (try clapping and verbal praise).

Snack in the right place. Snacking should take place in a feeding chair, or whilst sitting if a feeding chair is not available. This not only leads to good table habits, but is also much safer. Snacking whilst lying down, or crawling or walking can lead to choking.

See also:
Eating – Not wanting to eat
Eating – To mash, or not to mash

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*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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