Simple Healthy Snacks for Kids
Try these simple snack ideas to keep your children going strong.
Sweet and Healthy Snacks
If your kids are sweet on sweets, you can cater to their cravings and still keep snacks healthy and simple:
- Spread whole-wheat graham crackers with reduced-fat whipped cream cheese; top with sliced strawberries or strawberry jam made without sugar.
- Toast half of a whole-wheat English muffin. Spread with nut butter or sunflower seed butter and drizzle with honey.
- Dried whole apricots or banana slices dipped in melted dark chocolate.
- Plain low-fat yogurt topped with chopped walnuts and molasses.
- Pudding made with low-fat milk topped with fresh or frozen berries.
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