Okay, I feel really lame for bringing this up since I haven't put together a snack tray in ages, but I love them and I want you love them, too.
I read about snack trays in "The Baby Book" by Dr. William Sears and his wife, Martha Sears, RN. I wanted to try them out since BuggaBoo likes to graze. I'm sure being a distracted toddler is one reason for snacking all day, but I strongly feel another is because BuggaBoo has a weak epiglottis. When he was a baby he spit up all the time. I am not joking. Our pediatrician was surprised that he even gained weight. I always fed him on demand, I know that's why he thrived.
My mother-in-law said all her babies had the same thing, and both my nephews from that side of the family had it as children. My one nephew who is ten still has episodes of vomiting, especially if he eats too quickly or has a carbonated drink. So I think grazing may be BuggaBoo's way of not overloading his stomach.
The basic principle of a snack tray is to offer a variety of finger foods in a balanced manner. Dipping sauces are encouraged since toddlers can't resist them. First of all I sat down and composed a list of toddler-friendly nutritious finger foods that were quick and cheap. When I started I used a muffin tin.
What you see here, left to right, is whole wheat spiral pasta, bagel with peanut butter, pear chunks, tortillas filled with hummus, homemade seitan, and steamed carrot sticks. Well, this was way too much food for my little guy. He also didn't get the concept at first, he kept coming to me and telling me he was hungry. I would direct him back to the tray telling him he could eat whatever he wanted whenever he felt like it.
The next day he caught on and was so very excited about the whole thing. I decided to scale down production to an ice cube tray so there wasn't too much food.
This one was pretzel sticks, dried apricots, tortilla spread with peanut butter and wheat germ before rolling up, steamed broccoli, cucumber chunks, olives, peaches, and steamed carrot sticks. The dip was homemade hummus. As you can see by the glimpse of BuggaBoo's face he was pleased with his snacks. The ice cube tray proved to be the right amount of food to feed him until dinner.
After that BuggaBoo put in orders for what snacks he wanted and hovered over the assembly. As soon as I set his tray down he pounced on it, and even offered me some of his food. Snack trays became a hit in our household.
Here we have bread with peanut butter, olives, celery sticks, leftover Field Roast, honey tangerines, dried apricots, sauteed tofu, garbanzo beans, and something so obviously delicious it didn't make it to the photo shoot.
On benefit to having a free-access snack tray is BuggaBoo has a better mood most the day. He still has a hard time articulating when he's hungry and I'm so bad about preparing food on a set schedule. I eat whenever I'm hungry and it's not always when he's hungry, but I forget that he'll get hungry before me. I know, bad mommy. By the time he's hungry his mood has deteriorated to a point of nuclear war and trying to make something for him during the meltdown is difficult. So a snack tray circumvents all that! Also, I love to share with him, there's something about eating food that is bite-sized.
Olives (BuggaBoo adores them), pear chunks, canned peaches, pretzel sticks, cooked pasta, zucchini sticks, and sauteed tofu. Dipping unknown, something creamy.
So in conclusion I want to start making these again. They're fun, easy to put together, and the rewards are, well, rewarding. And I sometimes find little treasures like these:
This is, of course, and animal cracker drowning in peanut butter-apple sauce dip. He was delicious.
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