Seven Easy-Peasy Toddler Snacks for School

When J started going to toddler school, one of my challenges was learning to pack healthy, but yummy and toddler-friendly snacks. Big C and I don't like the idea of feeding him those prepackaged biscuits that are so popular with kids, and fortunately, J isn't a fan either.

For me and my preschooler, snacks have to fulfill four basic characteristics. First, they have to be nutritious. Second, they have to be yummy, so J would eat them. Third, they have to be easy to prepare, and fourth, they have to be things that J can eat on his own in school.

I tried Googling for some ideas on healthy baon ideas, but most of what I got were lunch-type meals (especially in the Filipino context), so they weren't appropriate for preschool. Eventually though, I found some basic items that we rotate on a daily basis so J's baon doesn't get too boring. For mommies like me, who have to add "prepare healthy baon" to our never-ending list of things to do, here are some of my baon staples for J which are tasty, but also easy-to-eat and largely healthy toddler snacks for preschool.
  1. Fruits - My favorites to pack for J are grapes or bananas. These are a quick-fix since I just pack the bananas whole, and he can eat them by himself with no trouble. For the grapes, I pluck off about 15 pieces and wash them, so it's also one way for me to keep track of how much he eats in school. Apples are also a good snack, although I prefer to serve these at home because J doesn't like them when they're brown. I have heard of the lemon juice trick, but as with most kids, J's not a fan of the tart taste.
  2. Egg - The hard-boiled egg is one of my bestsellers. All you have to do is boil the egg, peel it, and slice into bite-sized cubes and you're good to go. This is a snack J can eat by himself, and he can finish one egg in the short snack time they have in school. 

  3. Bread - Sandwiches are always a quick and easy option. You can jazz this up by making homemade spreads when you have some free time, and stash in the fridge for a quick option on busy mornings. I don't really recommend buying the You can make chicken or tuna salad in big batches when you have some free time, and you'll have a back-up in the fridge for those busy mornings. J actually makes life easier for me, because he likes his bread plain, and all I have to do in the morning is to cut his bread in interesting shapes. I suggest investing in cute cookie cutters shaped like letters and numbers, so snack time can also be learning time.
  4. Cheese - The individually packed cheese slices are make great snacks. Once someone helps him open the packaging, he can eat on this snack on his own.
  5. Granola - I used to pack Cheerios for J's snacks, but lately, I discovered that my son was willing to eat granola. Go figure right? I chanced upon a bag of Mornflake oat granola with dried fruits in the grocery and bought it for big C. Well, Big C didn't like it, but it was a big hit with the kids! Both J and Little C like it, and I bring it in small containers as a quick snack when we go out, and of course, for J's school snacks.
  6. Yogurt drinks - J likes juice, but Big C and I don't like how most of the tetra-packed juices available have so much sugar in it, so as a compromise, I pack yogurt drinks for J. Somehow I feel that the yogurt factor makes it marginally healthier than just juice. Haha! Sometimes, it's good, old-fashioned Yakult (which I also loved as a child -- and still love as an adult) and sometimes, it's flavored yogurt drinks. My favorite brand is Dutch Mill, because it comes in a smaller serving than the normal tetra-packed drinks, and it's the right size for J to finish in one sitting. 
  7. Juice - Sometimes, I do give in and pack juice in J's snack bag. When I do give him juice though, Tipco and Apple & Eve are our brands of choice. Tipco has flavors like beetroot, carrot and broccoli, which DO NOT TASTE LIKE VEGGIES AT ALL! Like Tipco, Apple & Eve Fruitables juice boxes are a combination of fruit and vegetable juices, such as apple, orange, carrot, tomato, beetroot, sweet potato, strawberry and others. Plus, for some reason, whenever I pack these juice boxes in J's bag and it comes back empty, I feel like I've won some sort of battle, because I was able to sneak veggies into his body without him noticing. Haha! 
From this list of basic items, J's daily snack bag pretty much looks like this:
one hard-boiled native egg, one small container of granola, one Yakult and a tumbler of water
I hope this post has given you some ideas on what to pack for your preschooler tomorrow. :) Happy Monday, mommies!

My Unexplained Hiatus

Checking the stats of this blog, I've discovered that it's been close to three months since my last post.  A lot has happened in those three months, which robbed me of the time to write, but now, I've resolved to get back in the swing of things.

So what have I and my boys (both big and little) been up to?

Our J is now officially a preschooler. He started at a toddler level this June. Unfortunately, the first school I enrolled him in didn't seem to be a good fit. While he and I were both happy with the school, for some strange reason he kept getting sick there. He was also enrolled in that school last year, but he also kept getting sick, so we pulled him out, thinking maybe he was still too young. This year though, after just 5 sessions, my son contracted hand, foot and mouth disease. Mind you though, I am clarifying that I do not hold the school accountable for my son's illness. It just made me think that like pediatricians and yayas, maybe there's also a hiyang factor when it comes to schools.

So in the end, Big C and I decided to transfer J to another school, where his cousins went. Thankfully, as of this post, J is happy and thriving, and we're praying that he continues to do so. He's made some new friends, and has shed his shyness. He's very talkative and we have the most interesting conversations on the car rides to and from school. (Now, I'll shift into bragging-mommy mode. Heehee!) His teachers say that he's a quick learner, and that he aced his first quarter assessments even though he missed the first month of classes in his school. Now, we're looking forward to his next two years in the school, and I'm especially looking forward to enrolling Little C there as well in a year.

Speaking of Little C, what has my munchkin been up to in the months since he turned 1? Well, he's walking now! To our surprise, Little C taught himself how to walk. J took a while before he started walking, as did all his cousins, so I was expecting at least a month or two more before Little C would take his first steps. Plus, given the fact that we weren't as enthusiastic about him learning how to walk (parents of more than one child should understand this), we were taking our sweet time and savoring the days that we chased after one squirmy little boy instead of two. We didn't really encourage him the way we did J, with walking exercises and thingamabobs to help him walk.  No, I'm proud to say, my Little C taught himself how to walk.

On a more serious note though. We've started cutting back TV time for Little C. At night, when all four of us hang out, we used to let him and J watch cartoons, but now, I've imposed a moratorium. No more TV after dinner. Since we started doing that, which is about two weeks, I've noticed that Little C has been a bit more attentive to his surroundings and responds more to people. I feel really guilty for letting him watch so much TV, especially since we've successfully kept J from the TV until he was about 1.8 years old. I honestly believe that J learned so much quicker because he wasn't glued to the TV set for long periods of time.

My Little C is still a happy and loving baby, although we've started seeing flashes of the temper that our little dragon has kept well-hidden from us. Big C and I have to work on teaching him to not cry to get his way, and to learn to use his words when he wants something. Hence, we've been teaching him how to sign. At the moment, all he can sign independently is "eat" or "food". Haha! Sometimes, he also says "chia!" which is the Chinese word for well, "eat". What can I say. My son has a healthy appetite. He loves to eat, and we have no problems getting him to eat. Like all toddlers (sniff, sniff! I can't believe my bunso is now a toddler!), he's a very messy eater though. He can also sign "thank you" and "sorry", although he mostly imitates the actions at this point.

As for Big C and I? Well, today, we celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. This song has always reminded me of the two of us (although in the song, the guy is singing to the girl). Big C and I met when we were both 16, and we've been together since we were 17 years old. That makes 13 years, and I know that doesn't compare to other couples who have been together for 20, 30 or even 50 years, but at the moment, that's practically half our life. I love this song because of how it makes me feel. It brings up memories of a young couple who grew up together and are still growing up and going through good times and bad. At the end of the day, while we are now married and parents to two wonderful boys, most days I still don't feel any older than fast cars and freedom. With Big C, I will always be a happy, light-hearted 17-year-old girl, and to me, he will forever be that 17-year-old boy I fell in love with all those years ago, even as the years pass.

A happy weekend to you all!