Q: Should my toddler snack between meals?

A: Yes! Toddlers actually need to snack between meals, since they have relatively small stomachs and appetites, and can't take in a lot of food at one time. Plus, a toddler's metabolism is super-fast, so he burns off what he eats relatively quickly and needs refueling more often. So go ahead and allow your toddler to nosh between meals. In fact, five to six mini-meals a day is just as good (and probably more realistic) than the three larger meals you're accustomed to having. Just focus on making the snacks count nutritionally -- serving things like carrots and low-fat dip or hummus, ham and cheese cubes, cut-up fruit, or even a hard-boiled egg, instead of empty calories like cookies. Giving your child small portions can also teach him the valuable lesson of eating only when he's hungry and stopping when he's full, which can help prevent overeating and obesity later on. Be sure to space the snacks midway between meals (not 15 minutes before dinner) so your child doesn't get in the habit of grazing all day long. It's important for your child to still feel hungry when your family sits down to eat, since the interaction that happens at your table is just as essential as the nourishing food.

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