parent opinion

Five tips for feeding other people's under-threes without the parent politics.

Whole Kids
Thanks to our brand partner, Whole Kids

It is a universal truth that toddlers love a snack. In fact, I’m certain that my youngest son Leo’s first word was ‘biscuit.’

With my eldest son Toby, now eight years old, I was all about cut fruit and veggies and the ‘no sugar until you are 12’ ethos when he was a toddler. These days, I’ve had to relax into my parenting methods. While I still want to keep both my boys as healthy and well-fed as possible, I am also a busy and tired working mum looking for convenience.

On the one hand, snacks are all about the kids; but in a play date or picnic situation it is also about keeping other parents happy too. No-one wants to be the mum or dad who forgets the snacks, has to borrow other people’s snacks, or buys the crappy sugar-filled snacks that make the other parents recoil in horror.

With two constantly hungry boys and plenty of play date wins under my belt, these are my five simple tips for feeding your own and other people’s kids, that will have you known as ‘mum/dad with the cool snacks’ in no time.

1. Do not run out of snacks, I repeat, DO NOT run out of snacks!

Little Freddie and his mum drop by after Jungle Gym for a quick cuppa and a play date and it’s morning tea time. But like old Mother Hubbard, the cupboard is embarrassingly bare. Yikes.

Will the toddlers accept the ratty-end piece of bread smeared with mayonnaise? Some left-over Thai takeout? A wrinkled green capsicum? Maybe, but you don’t want to be that mum too often.

Other than the occasional shopping fail, I try to ensure my snack drawer is full to bursting with a wide selection of good snacks – perfect for those surprise drop-ins and post-nap lows. This full-cupboard strategy is also good for when I am at work and Grandma, Auntie or the babysitter is in charge.

Whether or not there is fresh fruit in the fridge or homemade muffins on the kitchen bench (unlikely in my house, sorry), I can at least direct them to the ‘Drawer of Yum’ so that no one goes hungry – and everyone is a winner.

No. 1 rule of parenting: Be Prepared. Source: Supplied.

2. Keep the sugar to a minimum to keep everyone happy (parents included).

Who doesn’t love turning up to a Frozen-themed dinnertime party where all the food was dyed blue? True story. Generally speaking however (and outside of crazed four-year-old birthday parties), life is all about the balance. Bananas, watermelon, carrot and cucumber sticks as well as cheese and hummus are popular options for afternoon tea platters at our place. Good-quality wrapped snacks are delicious and convenient too.

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Whole Kids' boxed vanilla biscuits are great to chuck in the bag to share with friends at a picnic. No artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives AND cute little animal shaped biscuits – what’s not to love? They also have low-sugar content compared to other brands of a similar kind.

Started by Aussie mum-of-two Monica Meldrum 13 years ago, Whole Kids are Australia’s leading kids’ health food brand and they have won a stack of awards to prove it. Their products are nourishing, tasty, organic certified and super allergy friendly, so keep them handy if you want to be a big hit with both the kids and the parents.

Parenting politics nailed. Source: Supplied.

3. Timing is key.

If my kids are anything like yours, they are constantly hungry and hanging off my leg for more food. Breakfast is quite light (and darn early) in our household, so morning tea is a bit of a feast. My boys both like bananas and pikelets with butter as well as berries, yoghurt or maybe some scones and jam for a special treat.

We eat lunch early, and then post-Leo’s nap, we have a lighter afternoon tea with fruit and veggies or a few rice crackers and dip so we don’t over-eat before dinner. Snacks, while delicious, should not replace the all-important three meals a day.

4. Ask first before sharing - and cater for all.

Food intolerances and allergies are a big deal. Any parent of a child with a serious allergy will know just how anxiety-provoking play dates with food involved can be. While parents are most likely to tell you straight up if you are hosting a party or play date that their son or daughter can’t tolerate gluten or peanuts; always ask and confirm with all the parents, just in case of any missed communication.

Even without serious allergies, it is plain good manners to ask other parents if they are cool with you sharing your snacks. Little Phoebe might have just had cake with grandma and mum would prefer if you didn’t open up the biscuit tin right in front of her at that minute. So double check before you serve and keep children and parents healthy, well and happy.

Everyone's happy, including Leo with his Turtle Puffs. Source: Supplied.
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5. Keep it simple!

After dropping Toby to school and taking Leo to Gymbaroo on Fridays, I meet a friend in a cafe or at a park for a coffee and a chat. To ensure we can at least exchange a few pleasantries, we take it in turns to bring snacks for the little ones to share.

My friend is a great baker but I am not, so for me it is all about bringing something I know will be enjoyed by the toddlers and acceptable for my healthy friend. Whole Kids' organic apple cookies or the cheese and leek-flavoured dinosaur puffs do the trick.

My friend and I get to drink coffee and complete actual sentences and the kids have healthy morning tea treats - a total win for everyone.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Whole Kids

What are your tips for feeding other kids at parties and playdates? What are your kids’ favourite snacks? Tell us in the comments below.

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Whole Kids

Whole Kids is Australia’s largest range of certified organic snacks for babies and kids. A market leader in organic, artificial additive-free and allergen-friendly snacks for children, they are committed to making healthier, nourishing food for families using quality ingredients, and that tastes yummy.
No artificial stuff, no funny numbers and no added junk; just real food created by a real Aussie Mum using honest ingredients. Try these yummy snack on your little one; available at Coles, Chemist Warehouse, selected IGA's and Independent grocers and organics stores nationally (oh and at www.wholekids.com.au!)

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