The standard education parents get about how much their children should eat goes something like this: "They will eat until they're full." So, based on that I kept giving my oldest food as long as she kept eating. After her third or fourth helping I started to wonder if she'd ever get full! She has also consistently been in the 99th percentile for weight (and, fortunately the 95-98th percentile for height) so I've had to re-evaluate the standard education because my daughter is not standard. She's a bottomless pit!
All day long she asks, "Can I have a snack?" I seriously regret ever using the word snack in the first place. Although I'm sure something else would have taken its place. So I am constantly trying to create ways to lengthen snack time and choose snacks that are filling but lower in calories. Here are some solutions that have worked for us and are quite fun, too!
To lengthen snack time I look for ways to prolong the eating. This gives her tummy a chance to tell her brain she's full. I keep anything that has small sections, like an egg carton. I cut it down so it only has 4 or 6 sections. Then I put a couple of each snack into a compartment. For example, I put 2-3 grapes in one, 2 pretzels in another, her chewable vitamins in a third, 3-4 dried blueberries in the fourth. She gets really excited watching me put the snack tray together. Then we sit down at the table and visit as she eats. I ask her questions and help her remember to swallow before talking. We talk about what she'll choose next, what she likes most, what color the snacks are, how many are in each, how many different snacks, etc.
Sammi's all-time favorite, though, is Easter egg hunting. The Easter eggs from last year have been a regular toy around our house. I fill each egg with just 2 of a snack. Then I hide the eggs around the room, give Sammi a basket and let her find them. If I really want to drag it out, I only let her eat one egg then we hide them all again. We continue hiding/finding until either she's bored or the eggs are all empty. While this is a ton more work and I don't always feel like it, it has been a great way to slow down her eating and get her moving in the meantime.
Here's to fun, healthy snack times everywhere!