Summer is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be on the go with little ones in tow, to backyard play dates, zoo trips, and taking off to the mountains or the lake for family getaways. When you’re away from home, and you’ve got a baby or toddler with you, it’s important that you plan ahead food-wise and bring enough to keep your little one nourished and hydrated throughout the day. Depending on where you’re going and for how long, and your baby’s age and eating stage, you might even have to plan for a meal or two, plus snacks.
There are a few things to keep in mind when feeding your baby on the go, especially in the summer when it’s hot out. Here are my top 5 tips!
1) Stick to a schedule:
You as the parents or caregiver should be in charge of meal and snack timing, no matter where you are or how old your child is. And there should be a fairly consistent schedule of eating times, spaced out about two to three hours apart. Random snacks and grazing throughout the day isn’t a great idea – it’s confusion around feeding responsibilities (between parents and kids), and it creates kids who are dependent on snacks to keep them distracted, soothed or for staying calm. Babies and toddlers need to learn self-regulation (responding to hunger and eating enough to keep them full until the next meal or snack), and spacing feeding times apart with at least two hours in between is an important part of this.
Even when you’re out and about, set a timer on your phone or watch to remind you of when it’s meal or snack time and make sure that you have an appropriate place to feed your baby.
2) Don’t forget feeding essentials:
Babies and toddlers require a few key feeding supplies, whether at home, or not. Here’s a list of feeding essentials to have on hand or take with you when you’re out during the summer (you won’t’ need all of them, but I give lots of examples, depending on where you are):
- A water-proof, washable beach mat that your baby can sit on and eat
- Portable highchair
- Extra changes of clothes
- Baby wipes
- Baby spoons/forks
- Sippy cup/straw cup
- Plastic bowl or container
- Lunch kit and ice packs
3) Don’t sacrifice nutrition—pack a variety of nutritious foods:
Just because you’re out at a splash park, having a picnic in the park or going for a weekend family camp trip doesn’t automatically mean living on processed, high sugar, high salt foods – especially for your wee ones. Babies and toddlers have small stomachs and need nutritious foods to fill them.
You should still be focusing on whole foods- protein and iron-rich foods (meat, poultry, fish, beans, and lentils), fruits and vegetables, dairy foods and whole grains. Make sure that you have a balance of foods on hand – I always aim for (and recommend) at least three foods for meals and at least two foods for snacks. Here are some ideas:
On-the-go meals for older babies or toddlers:
- Homemade oatmeal muffin ()
- Full Fat Low Sugar Greek Yogurt
- Baby Gourmet water or preferred liquid). Add a fruit and veggie puree to the mix for added nutrition. (pack in a container and bring (
- Unsweetened apple sauce
- Natural peanut butter to swirl into cereal
- Whole grain infant puffs (such as Baby Gourmet’s organic quinoa snacks)
- Cheddar Cheese slices
- Leftover shredded cooked chicken
- Peeled cucumber sticks
And snacks ideas:
- Peanut butter cracker sandwiches: thinly spread natural peanut butter or almond butter in between whole wheat crackers – yum!
- Hardboiled egg cut into quarters + length-wise cut grapes
- Baby Gourmet fruit/veggie pouches + yogurt
- Apple slices and cheese cubes
- and peanut butter
- “Shakers” organic milk beverages (by Baby Gourmet) if baby is over one year of age
- Toddler trail mix: Baby Gourmet “Puffies”, dried fruit like raisins or dried blueberries, carob or yogurt chips and chopped walnuts or slivered almonds (use granola in place of nuts or seeds if you toddler is not yet ready to eat nuts or is allergic)
- Graham crackers + cheese sandwich
- Peanut butter and banana roll-up: Thinly spread peanut butter or other nut butter on a whole wheat wrap and wrap a banana. Once wrapped, cut into circular bite-size pieces or eat as is!
- Cooked tortellini noodles with a tomato sauce dip
- Leftover french toast strips (leftover french toast that you cut into strips) with yogurt as the dip
- Cucumber pieces, cheese cubes and crackers
- Chickpeas or peas (canned and rinsed, or roasted)
- Banana loaf + milk
- Mini tuna+ crackers
- : Make ahead with yogurt, frozen fruit and milk and keep it in your freezer. Take it out right before you go and put in a cooler.
4) Practice food safety:
Food safety is really important, especially when you have little ones and it’s hot outside. Here are some quick tips:
- Pack foods in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Pack foods first that you think you will use last.
- Transport the cooler in the back seat of an air-conditioned car, not the hot trunk.
If you’re picnicking or camping, place the cooler under the shade of a tree of keep it under a blanket or tarp- make sure it’s out of the sun.
- Bring hand soap and water to wash your hands before preparing foods and feeding your child. If soap and water aren’t available, pack disposable wipes or hand sanitizer.
- Feed your little one (and drink) bottled water or tap water from a safe source. Don’t drink water from lakes or streams even if the water looks clean.
5) Have a stash of shelf-stable convenient baby-friendly foods:
It’s always good to have a stash of shelf stable nutritious foods in your pantry, to throw into your diaper bag or picnic basket before you head out. This way, it minimizes what you need to pack in the cooler.
- Unsweetened fruit and veggie sauces (such as Baby Gourmet’s organic pouches)
- Whole grain baby-friendly puffed snacks (Baby Gourmet quinoa Puffies are our favourite)
- Whole grain low-salt crackers
- Freeze dried fruits and veggies
- Freeze dried yogurt snacks (such as )
- Low-sugar cereal (like cheerios)