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Easy Steps to Your Child's Nutrition

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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 gaps. 
  • 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? Dip!

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 accordingly.

Reviewed on August 04, 2010
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