One of the main concerns parents have about children accessing their own snack is their ability or lack of ability to self regulate, that the child will eat everything that is available at once. My advice is to start small, perhaps one banana and one orange and allow the child to choose. At eighteen months Otto now has more food options available to him and although it comes slowly, he only snacks when he's hungry and only eats a small selection of what is available. But how do we manage it? Portion control helps. I only put out what I am happy for him to eat.
Above, at the start of the day, I clean out, fill or top up his breakfast and snack containers. We use these little jars for spread (jam, hummus, nut butter) so if he eats it all, it's not a problem! I only put out a handful of crackers and breadsticks.
Crackers, bread sticks and, granola are put on his snack shelves in little snap lock containers. (I prefer to use the glass lock containers but their lids are too tight/strong for Otto to open.)
All of the granola in the bowl! An older toddler might be able to self regulate further and only get out as much granola as they need, but Otto will use all that is in the container. He doesn't eat it all though, I should reduce the amount of granola in the container.
Then if this happens... also not a problem. It's not ideal that he is eating the hummus straight out of the jar, it's for spreading on crackers or eating with bread sticks, so I will role model that later. He can independently open these little lids but can't really put them on tight.
Little jars of jam, nut butters and hummus in the children's fridge door. We use a little pot for the yoghurt and sometimes chia pudding.
We use a similar method in the kitchen. We put dishwashing liquid in a small squishy (easy to use) bottle for Otto. It's also easy this way to dilute it if the toddler frequently uses too much. Now he can use his own little bottle of dishwashing liquid without the concerns of wastage or large spills. He spends a lot of time at the sink so this is a win-win.
We use these little bottles in the bathroom. Again this is also about portion control. By using little containers Otto really can't use too much. They allow him to independently use his bubble bath, soap and, shampoo without wastage or spills. These are all recycled small containers but travel bottles or sample bottles can work well too.