Simple Healthy Snacks for Kids
Try these simple snack ideas to keep your children going strong.
It's Toddler Time: Snack Facts
Though parents sometimes perceive snacks as a negative, they're especially
important when it comes to young children, Swinney says. Here are some snack
facts relating to those tiny tummies:
- Most children, particularly toddlers and preschoolers, should snack, says
Swinney, because little bellies can't hold a lot of food, so young children may
become hungry between meals.
- Tiny tykes have limited attention spans, so they're often more interested
in playing than eating at mealtime. Simple, healthy snacks help fill in the
- A Journal of the American Dietetic Association study found that 80%
of toddlers ages 12 to 24 months ate an afternoon snack. Cookies, crackers,
chips, and fruit drinks topped the list of toddler favorites. Research also
shows snacks comprise about 25% of the calories kids of all ages consume --
nearly a meal's worth. That raises a red flag with nutrition experts.
"It's easier for your child to take in more calories than he needs
through snacks," Swinney tells WebMD. For instance, a 2-ounce box of animal
crackers and four ounces of a fruit beverage supply just over 300 calories,
about one-third of what a 2-year-old needs on a daily basis, and more than 20%
of an active 5-year-old's daily calorie quota.
So what can you do to keep your little snackers healthy and happy?
Healthy Snacks for Little Dippers
Young children love to dip and parents want them to snack on healthy foods.
That's where these great ideas come in. They may be a bit messy, but they're
worth it, nutrition-wise! Try:
- Sliced apple, peach, pear, bananas, or cooked sweet potato, dipped in
low-fat vanilla yogurt
- Baby carrots, celery sticks, sliced red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes (cut
in half) or any other cooked or raw vegetable paired with low-fat Ranch
dressing; hummus; nut butter; or sunflower seed butter
Healthy Snacks: Pencil Them In
Whether your kids are tots or teens, you should probably schedule in healthy
snacks, even if loosely. That's because eating at regular intervals discourages
kids from grazing, characterized as near-continuous nibbling or drinking, or
both, throughout the day.
How much should you serve at snack time? Enough to take the edge off a
child's hunger. Start small; you can always serve more.
And don't worry if your child is not particularly hungry at the next meal,
Swinney says. Left to their own devices, kids typically curb food consumption