Here's a fun excerpt from Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or MoreEnjoy the variety of responses and real-life ways that moms make snacking work for their families (or not)!

Do your children snack on what they want when they want to, or do you have specific times and foods?

  • No, they don’t snack on what they want to when they want to, or I’d be out of food! We usually don’t snack at all, but if breakfast was less filling in the morning, I’ll offer something (usually, fruit or yogurt) around 10 a.m. If they’re extremely active in the afternoon and need something, I’ll do the same. But usually, I aim for a good protein serving at breakfast and lunch to tide them over until the next meal.—Kate
  • We didn’t use to have a snack everyday, but child number 4 is very cranky after nap unless he eats as soon as he wakes up. So, we’ve been doing an afternoon snack, usually a cheese stick or granola bar or a fruit/veggie. Sometimes, we have a morning snack, too. If I am cooking, they beg for the veggies I’m chopping. Sometimes, I will just leave a bag of baby carrots or a plate of cabbage or apple slices on the table and let them eat as they please.—Ann
  • Not much snacking happens here, but we do have a rather erratic schedule some days, where meals aren’t necessarily “on time.” At that point, I do allow some munching. We try to eat with Dad in the evenings, but because he has his own business, his hours aren’t always predictable. I don’t want food to become a huge issue, so I don’t make a big deal about it for the most part. They’re not allowed to be picky, though. All have to have a bit of something that’s there. (Of course, the older kids can eat what they choose, but they normally choose well because they were trained young.)—Karina
  • No snacking or we’d be out of food! Snacking is a no-no. They eat well at meals and eat everything set before them, and then some.—Lissa
  • Unfortunately, my kids snack way too often (which is why they’re not huge dinner eaters). They seem to be hungry every two hours. They have to choose healthy snacks as much as possible: fruit, yogurt, low-sugar granola bars, pretzels, etc. Nutritionists say it’s healthier to eat small meals more often, rather than three large meals. So, I try to balance between letting them eat when they’re hungry and eating at scheduled meal times.—Shannon
  • They’re definitely not allowed to snack when they want. That would make me crazy—I’d run out of what I need and wouldn’t even know it! And it would be too expensive. But, some of the menu-plan forms I mentioned above include a plan for snacks. I want to start doing this with cheap snacks like popcorn, fruit, veggies, and sometimes a treat from the store that was on sale. If I’m hungry or more than one child has said they’re hungry, then it should be snack time. Otherwise, they can drink some water or eat carrots.—Dana
  • We tend to let little ones snack as needed, provided it isn’t close to a mealtime. The others get one snack between lunch and dinner and one at bed time. They do have to be relatively healthy snacks.—Sharon
  • We have a philosophy of eating when we are hungry rather than when the clock dictates. However, the drawback is that the dishes are never done until the children are all in bed for night. I limit things like juice and yogurt, and only fruit and/or veggies are allowed after 7 p.m.—Karol
  • We try to follow our meal plan. Snack is about 4 p.m. and it’s listed on the meal plan. But, I am also flexible because I want my children to learn self-control, but also to have healthy eating habits and to listen to their stomachs when they are hungry. I can’t tell them when they are hungry, but, we can establish a sensible daily routine which will encourage their bodies to have hunger at the same time each day. But, some days they have gymnastics class at 2 p.m. and they are all starving by 3 p.m., so I don’t make them wait.—Tina
  • When they are hungry, they may have crackers, fruit, cheese, or yogurt between meals. We are very flexible about snacks, but the children must clean their plates at meals. They get whatever amount they ask for, but must finish it.—Lissa
  • My two children that have later bedtimes can get a snack before they go to bed. Their snack is usually whatever we have on hand like chips, crackers, or bananas. I don’t like my children having snacks during the day because it makes them not want to eat their meals. But, I don’t know if this would work for everyone. My children are homeschooled so they can have their meals at reasonable times.—Lyn
  • We typically stick to three meals a day. Sometimes we have a simple snack, especially when I’m pregnant or nursing. If I do a snack, I usually prepare something first, then offer it. That way they will gladly take what is offered if they are truly hungry.—Laurie
  • Yes, but I do ask that they get permission for food before they partake.—Diana
  • In the past, when I’ve let them eat whenever they like, I’ve found this to turn my kitchen into a revolving door. We had a hard time getting things done in our day. So instead, I’ve learned to have one mid-morning snack, one mid-afternoon snack, and a little drink before bed. I usually feed my children fruit for morning snack and vegetables for afternoon snack.—Sarah

How does snacking work in your family? Munching whenever needed? Planned snacks between meals? Seasons of each?

Read another excerpt from Mothering Many here.

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