Have you ever asked your kid how practice went, expecting to hear about fielding drills and batting practice, only to get an excited review of that day’s snacks instead? For little ones, snacks are a big deal. This can mean feeling a lot of pressure when your name rolls around on the roster. Why did you agree to provide snacks THIS week, when you have a board meeting and a parent-teacher conference? Do you have to bake something? Why is this so stressful?
Not only do you have to worry about pleasing a dozen picky, sweaty first-graders, there are the watchful eyes of their parents to think about too. Should you go organic, or is that just showing off? Homemade or packaged? Salty or sweet? And what was up with that parent who just bought all the kids Happy Meals last week? Take a deep breath. Relax. You’ve been feeding your own child for five or six years now, and nobody’s died yet. Every parent is in the same boat as you.
Pay Attention to Allergies
Even though allergy awareness has made great strides lately, parents of a child with allergies live in fear of someone dismissing their child’s very real health concerns as “made up for attention” or “just a picky eater” or “all in their heads.” If your team distributed a memo about allergy concerns, read it, stick it up on the fridge, and take it seriously when it comes time to choose snacks. Peanut allergies are the most common in young kids, so just on the safe side avoid obvious things like peanut butter, but also be sure to look over the ingredient lists on things like granola bars, candy, and trail mix. Peanuts are sneaky like that.
Rest Easy – Pre-packaged Snacks Make More Sense
Allergy parents swear by nutrition labels, but so do nutrition-conscious parents of all stripes. Pre-packaged food lets parents know exactly what their kids are eating and can alleviate concerns about foodborne illnesses. It’s also just plain easier from your perspective, since you don’t have to make anything ahead of time and you don’t have to worry about portioning food out or bringing plates and utensils to the field. There are plenty of healthy pre-packaged snacks these days, so don’t worry that other parents will judge you.
Bring a Little Extra
Inevitably, somebody’s going to drop their snack. A few kids might have little siblings who are fussy after sitting through an hour-long practice where they didn’t get to play. Sure, it’s not your job to feed other people’s toddlers, but you’ve been there. If an extra bag of goldfish crackers can prevent a meltdown on the way to the car, wouldn’t you appreciate the parent thoughtful enough to pack spares?
Watch the Sugar
Kids burn through a lot of energy out on the field, so by the time snack time rolls around they’re usually ravenous. Humans naturally crave sweet foods when they’re thirsty, but remember that that’s our bodies telling us to find a piece of fruit. Foods like apple slices, tangerines, or grapes are excellent snacks because the sugar is balanced with fiber that helps kids digest the sugar more slowly. Fruit snacks, juice, and candy just dump sugar right into the bloodstream with nothing to slow it down, which means those hungry little athletes will crash just as soon as their parents are trying to get them home. You won’t make any friends that way.
Don’t forget the water! If individual bottles is too environmentally-unfriendly for you, consider bringing a cooler with a dispenser spigot and some biodegradable paper cups. Little kids don’t need a huge amount of water, just enough to wet their whistles while they gobble down their snacks.
Juice and sports drinks aren’t the best idea, because of the sugar content and because of the inevitability of kids spilling. Remember that at least one family is going to have to rush off right after practice, so a lot of snacks and drinks will be taken straight to the car. Do you enjoy scrubbing spilled Gatorade out of your backseat upholstery? Neither does Tommy’s mom.
Easy Snack ideas
Don’t drive yourself crazy picking out options. If your kid likes it, most of the other kids probably will too. If bringing a cooler is too much of a hassle, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to room-temperature snacks. By the time next week rolls around, kids won’t remember anyway. They’ll be too busy getting excited for the next snack!