We all parent in our own way and one of the things that we’re passionate about is teaching Lily to be independent, where we can, and what we consider to be essential life skills from a young age. We really like some of the Montessori ideas and methods and to help her get to grips with preparing her own snacks, we’ve set up a Montessori-inspired snack and water station in our kitchen.
We’ve used our kitchen worktop and a stool but some people use separate stations/benches, especially for smaller children. Oh and please ignore Alexa, we haven’t got anywhere else to put her, unfortunately!
If you’re curious about setting up your own snack station, here’s what we’ve included together with some tips and healthy snack suggestions…
Reasons to introduce a montessori snack station
— Most kiddos thrive on the feeling of responsibility. Lily has taken really well to ‘being responsible’ for getting her own drinks and snacks and is really proud of herself afterwards.
— Toddlers also crave control so it can be a good idea to let them have control over certain things that are without risk such as what clothes they’re going to wear that day, getting their own food etc.
— It teaches independence and basic food preparation skills that can be improved with daily practice. Tasks such as spreading, cutting and peeling are fabulous for helping with their fine motor skills.
— In time, your children will get the hang of eating when they’re hungry and regulating their own food intake (aside from their meals).
Suggestions of what to include with your montessori snack station
— A way to get themselves a drink whether that be a water dispenser with a tap or a jug (with a lid) and some cups.
— A tea towel to mop up any spillages.
— A chopping board and their own knife (we use the knives Lily has from her children’s cutlery sets). I know some people also use kid-friendly wavy cutters and all that sort of thing but we’ve started off pretty basic.
— Tupperware/containers for any loose snacks.
— Bowl, plate, cup and any necessary cutlery.
— I’ve put our food recycling caddy next to the snack station so she can pop the peels and leftovers straight in.
— Keep your snacks on a tray that can be easily removed in the run-up to mealtimes to avoid them filling up on snacks and leaving their meal.
— If you’re worried that your little one will eat too much (Lily is like a bottomless pit, it just keeps going in and in and in…) then only supply them with enough snacks for the day. If they eat them all too quickly and start asking for more food, explain that they’ve eaten their allowance for the day and suggest that they try and make it last a little longer tomorrow. They’ll soon get the idea!
— Use toddler-friendly snack containers that you know they can access without your assistance.
— Make sure any snacks that could be deemed a choking risk are pre-cut such as grapes, cherry tomatoes etc.
— If your toddler isn’t used to peeling fruit yet, put a small cut in the top of the skin to get them started.
— It doesn’t have to be fancy schmancy! Aside from the water dispenser, everything else we had in the cupboards already. In my eyes, it’s more eco-friendly to use what you’ve got (even if it’s plastic) and get the use from it before you buy new things.
— I’ve noticed that using small jars means that Lily feels like she’s getting lots whereas it’s actually not as much as she thinks!
Easy healthy snack suggestions
— Dried fruit mixes such as apricots, currants, cranberries etc.
— Hard-boiled eggs. Keep them in the shells so your kiddo can break it with their knife and peel the shell away before getting stuck in.
— Bite-sized crackers. Your little one could spread these with butter or soft cheese if they want to.
— Grapes or berries. Please, please cut these up beforehand.
— Crunchy vegetable sticks with a hummus dip.
— Whole fruits that they can peel and cut up themselves such as bananas and clementines. Other fruits such as apples and plums can be eaten just as they are.
— Onion rings (the ones from the crisp aisle in the big party-style bags) or plain tortilla chips.
— Cheese portions.
— Homemade sweet snacks such as banana bread, muffins, oat bars and fruity flapjacks.
— Scones, teacakes, brioche, bagels, hot cross buns.
— Dry wholegrain cereal such as multigrain hoops or wheaties.
— Rice cakes.
Are you thinking of setting up a similar system for your little one? Or perhaps you do this already, does it work or do you have any tips of your own to add? Let me know!