Healthy snacks for toddlers, or What in the world is in those Cheerios?



baby eating cheerios and apple

Are Cheerios a healthy snack?

A few moms in my birth month group had recently asked me a question:

“What do you think about feeding my 1 year old baby (about to become a toddler) some Cheerios?” and “What are some other healthy snack options for the times you are on-the-go”?

This got me thinking. I have not bought cereal for my family in years because I do not consider it to be real food. Especially Cheerios. But I decided to investigate to see what’s in there. Maybe the ingredients are super awesome? I thought “Hmmm, this may be an easy answer to a snack dilemma”. So, I pulled up the ingredients for Cheerios, Organic 365 Morning O’s, and Happy Baby Organic Puffs.

Here are my findings:

The GOOD: 1. All of them have WHOLE grain (oats or brown rice) as the first ingredient, which is awesome. First ingredients are very important, because its the stuff that the product has the most of. 2. They do not have chemicals, artificial colorings, or preservatives (if you don’t count the pesticides used for non-organic ingredients). 3. Two of the products are organic, and that’s extra plus, for obvious reasons. 4. They have added vitamins and minerals (how easily they are digested is a whole other topic).

The BAD: 1.The cereals are not real food because they’ve been processed. The nutritional part of some of the ingredients has been removed during the processing. Therefore, some of the ingredients have ZERO nutritional value. For example: corn starch and wheat starch in Cheerios. The starches fill our babies up with empty calories, but no nutrients. 2. If I can summarize the ingredients for all of products – we have 2 major categories – the whole grain (oats or rice) and the sugars in various forms (starch, cane sugar, juice concentrate, rice flour). Yes, starch, even though its not sweet, acts like sugar when it enters our blood system: it raises insulin levels and can make us gain weight and exposure to other problems when used in excess.

Would I give this to my little one? Personally, I would try to avoid it altogether, but if I had to, I would wait until at least age 1 because babies do not develop the enzyme amylase to digest grains until that age. I certainly do not like the idea of the food sitting in his tummy and rotting. After he turns 1, I might give it to him once in a while, not too often, and not a lot. If I were to pick one of the 3, I would go with Happy Baby Organic Puffs, as it seems to have fewest of the offending ingredients and it’s organic.

Here are my conclusions: I would not call Cheerios and such creations to be real food, but so called food-like substance. They are not the most terrible things to feed kids with, but far from the best.

So what are some healthy, readily available, easy snacks on the go for the little ones? I found a few resources for you, check them out!

  • Freeze dried fruit and veggies. Number of ingredients: 1! Kind of ingredients: real food! Such as: blueberries, strawberries, apples, mangos, pears, etc. And did you know that freeze drying preserves most of nutrients? Yay! Go find them in your local store or buy online. For the best quality, look for organic and stay away from those imported from China.
  • Cut up pieces of fresh fruit (i.e., mangos, strawberries, pears, berries)
  • Cut up pieces of veggies (i.e, cucumbers, cooked beets, squash, sweet potatoes)

Now it is your turn – what are some of the healthy snacks that you like to give your precious ones when you are on the go?

Signing off, and until next time.

With love and good health,

Your Mama Coach, Svetlana

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