Family Magazine

Nibble Tray

By Craftycrunchymama
I saw a mom post one of these in my online mom's group and it took me a few months to get around to trying the idea, but I wish I had tried it sooner. I don't have any problems getting Baby J to eat healthy foods, but I do have a problem remembering to give him snacks throughout the day. Before I know it, the time between lunch and dinner has passed and he hasn't had any food. I figured this would be a great solution for us. All I have to do is take maybe ten minutes in the morning to cut up some fruits and veggies, fill up the tray, and put them out for him to graze on all day.
Nibble Tray
The idea comes from Dr. Sears' "The Baby Book". This is what he says about the toddler snack tray:
    "A child's demeanor often parallels her eating patterns. Parents often notice that a 
   toddler's behavior deteriorates toward the end of the morning or the mid-afternoon. Notice 
   the connection? Behavior is worst when going longest without food. Grazing minimizes 
   blood sugar swings and lessens the resulting undesirable behavior." (p. 255)
But won't they eat ALL day? From my experience, Baby J takes some food and then runs off to play (unless he is watching TV, then he will graze a little longer throughout the episode of Sesame Street).
Won't they get fat? I guess that depends on what type of food you are filling his tray with. Giving your child unlimited access to Cheese Doodles, Bread, M&M's, and Fruit Snacks would probably make them gain weight. Filling the tray with nutritious, raw, and homemade foods will have a much different effect.
How will they know when to stop? I will answer this with a couple of quotes on the topic from Alfie Kohn's book "Unconditional Parenting":
   "...even without our intervention, young children will usually consume the amount of 
   calories their bodies need over time." (p. 58)
          "Two nutritionits in Illinois conducted a fascinating experiment a few years ago. They 
   observed 77 children between the ages of two and four, and also learned how much their 
   parents attempted to control their eating habits. They discovered that those parents who 
   insisted that their children eat only during mealtimes (rather than when they were hungry), 
   or who encouraged them to clean their plates (even when they obviously weren't hungry), 
   or who used food (especially desserts) as a reward wound up with children who lost the 
   ability to regulate their caloric intake"  (p. 58-59)

The typical tray that I would give Baby J would consist mostly of fresh foods (apples, mangoes, carrots, red peppers, blueberries (his favorite!), etc. with some cheerios, or crackers). This is what his tray looks like today:
Nibble Tray
From left to right he has: semi-sweet chocolate chips (I let him have one sweet thing in there, but I don't fill that compartment completely. To my surprise, he doesn't eat the chocolate before all of the others. He takes a few and then grazes on the other things. I will soon be making homemade carob chips that will be replacing the chocolate.), veggie chips, cheerios, red bell pepper, carrots, cucumbers, and homemade cheese crackers.
Do you have a nibble tray for your little one? I would love to hear what you put in it!

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