Encourage Snack and Mealtime Routines.

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Most children eat three meals a day, plus two orthree snacks. Given the opportunity, many would choose to snack all day long. Children who snack constantly might never feel hungry for a regular meal.

A regular routine of meals and snacks helps discourage eating all day, and helps children know what to expect. Try to time snacks a long-enough time before the next meal, so you or your child have time to get hungry again by mealtime.

Reasons to Encourage Scheduled Snacks:

  • Children who are hungry at mealtime may bemore inclined to try new foods and eat thehealthy foods presented.
  • Children who snack frequently often choosehigher calorie foods and drinks, putting themat risk for excessive weight gain.
  • Children who snack often, especially on sweets,are more likely to get cavities.

On very active days, it's perfectly normal for kids to be extra hungry and need to eat more than usual. On those days, be flexible if your child wants an extra snack or eats more at or around mealtime. During growth spurts, some children get very hungry. This hunger may last for several days but usually subsides as quickly as it rises.

Snack Time Tip:

Keep an apple or baggie of carrot sticks handy! If your child wants a snack, offer them a “GO” snack such as these. If they refuse, it can help determine if they are hungry or if they just wanted a “WHOA” food in response to relieving other emotions, such as boredom or sadness.


Gavin, M. (2014, November). Hunger and your Preschooler.

Lindsay, A., & Buffington, A. 2021, Snack & Mealtime Routines, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-103

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