establishing a meal and snack schedule

Parents have the responsibility to decide when food is offered. It is important to have an established meal and snack schedule. As much as possible, it’s best not to deviate from the schedule.

Children need to eat frequently.

  1. Children have small stomachs and can physically only eat a smaller quantity of food at one time
  2. Children usually (and hopefully!) lead active lifestyles
  3. Children are in a growth stage in the lifecycle


All this amounts to a need for frequent eating to get enough calories for growth, development, and activity level.


Part of the responsibility of when to offer the food and establishing a feeding schedule means that your children do not have free 24/7 access to the fridge or pantry.


As a general rule, young children should be offered food every 2-3.5 hours. Here is an example of a schedule following this principle:


Afternoon Snack3:30



Write down the times that food or beverages other than water were offered to your child(ren) today (or yesterday if the day is not over).


TimeFood Offered



Is this reflective of a typical day of feeding?                                       Yes                  No                               

Was there an opportunity for your child to eat

at 2-3 hour intervals?                                                                           Yes                  No


Did your child eat more frequently than every 2-3 hours?

In other words, does your child graze on food throughout the day?     Yes                  No       



If your current meal/snack schedule (or lack thereof)

does not fall in line with the recommendation to offer

food to children every 2-3 hours use the space below

to create a meal/snack schedule.


Type of meal/snack (example: breakfast)Time



What are some barriers that might prevent you from sticking to this schedule?





What could you do to overcome these barriers?