Snacks are an important part of young children’s nutrition. It is hard for those small stomachs to wait until meals, so they need their snacks. But remember, children don’t need very many calories per day. So make sure that your snacks are healthy and that they provide some of the nutrients children need. Providing snacks from different food groups throughout the week, such as cheese, apple slices or yogurt will help children get all the nutrients they need!
- Yogurt parfait with low-fat yogurt and fruit
- Fruit smoothie made in a blender with fresh fruit, yogurt and juice
- Melon cubes with a slice of turkey
- Banana slices with peanut butter
- Mud and Dirt: A cup of low-fat pudding with crushed graham crackers mixed in
- Sandwiches made with meats or peanut butter
- Hard-boiled egg with a slice of whole wheat bread
- Crunchy vegetable sticks (carrots, celery) with low-fat ranch dip (for older preschoolers)
- Ants on a Log: Peanut butter on celery with raisins
- Sliced tomato with mozzarella cheese
- Hummus and pita wedges
- “Light” microwave popcorn with grated parmesan cheese (for children three years and older)
- Small slice of leftover pizza
- Mini pizzas: Half an English muffin covered by a tablespoon of tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese
- Whole wheat tortilla with salsa
Choosing and Buying Snacks
- Buy only healthy snacks, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Before you go shopping, tell your children what behavior you expect and what, if any, snack they can expect.
- Take snacks with you when you go to appointments or shopping.
- Provide snacks that are easy to eat.
- Use snacks to provide the food groups your children are missing during meals.
- Make snacks small, then give seconds if the child asks for more.
- Decide what snacks you will allow, and when. Tell child the rules and stick to them.
Tips for Snack Time
- Give children a choice of two or three items for a snack.
- Make snacks a routine and scheduled time.
- Snacks are great until one to two hours before dinner.
- Snacks are for hunger, not for rewards or emotional soothing.
- Ask yourself, is your child really hungry like he says he is, or is he thirsty or in need of attention?
- Head off crying or tantrums by giving the child phrases to use, such as “I am hungry” or “I don’t like this”.
- Avoid bribes to get children to eat their snack.
- If they do not want what you offer, tell them it is okay because they will have a meal soon, and don’t give in to whining.
- Take time to teach your child when and where and why snacks are appropriate.
- Allow your child to help you prepare the snack. Children are more likely to eat a snack they helped prepare.
- Be consistent with your children. If you have said that they are not allowed to have a certain food, stick to it.