Healthy snacks for younger children

Healthy snacks for youngsters could lead to better sleep, new research suggests.

Read moreThis research, to be presented in the journal PLOS ONE, examined a group of babies between 4 and 6 months of age, and found that babies’ mothers and fathers had “more positive attitudes towards infant nutrition” than the control group.

The researchers found that when a baby in the control condition received a “healthy snack” they enjoyed a “healthier” sleep, with parents “expressing positive emotions” when they got the treats.

“The baby experience is a learning environment in which there’s a lot of exposure to different things that we can put into the environment of infant nutrition,” lead author Prof Julie Peebles told the BBC.

“We would hope, for example, that babies in the healthy snack group would be better able to get sleep if they’re fed a balanced meal with the right things, which includes the nutrients they need and those that they’re already exposed to.”

A healthy snack might include fruit, nuts, cereals and vegetables, or snacks such as milk and yoghurt.

Peebles said the researchers found little evidence that babies could be better fed by having a healthy snack, but that it was likely to help in a variety of ways.

Dr Julie Peedes is a PhD candidate in the Department of Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience at RMIT University.

She said one of the areas in which researchers had explored is whether babies learn in an environment where they are encouraged to interact, with the idea that “the parent might be more involved in the learning environment”.

“It was also known that babies had a much lower interest in play when they were fed a diet consisting of food, toys, games, and they’re not encouraged to participate in these activities,” she said.

“This study has shown that parents might have a bigger influence over the way the babies are fed.”

It was unclear whether parents were being rewarded when they had more snacks, or whether a child was actually more motivated by having better snacks.

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