Healthy snacks for kids

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 05 December 2012.
Tagged: children, guides, healthy cooking, healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, healthy snacks, kids, snacks, tips

Healthy snacks for kids

How many times were you told as a child: "Don't eat between meals" or "If you fill up on that, you'll have no room for dinner"? Like many things, attitudes to children's snacking have changed greatly since our grandparents' days. Today snacks are seen as important contributors to a child's total food intake - provided of course that they're the right sort of snacks.

Nutritionists recognise that young children have always had a tendency to snack. They have small stomach capacities and are unable to fit in a solid meal in one sitting, yet have a high need for fuel for growth and energy.

Many fidgety kids who cannot bear to sit still at the table to finish all their dinner fare better following the rule of "small meals often". Fussy eaters who dawdle over their dinner plate also benefit.

Why kids love to graze

Snacks are basically "kid friendly". They small in size and are meant to be eaten by hand (avoiding the difficulties for little fingers to manipulate utensils).

The trouble with most popular kids' snacks is that they're either sugary and fatty (like doughnuts, chocolate, thick shakes and cookies) or salty and fatty (crisps, movie popcorn, fries or savoury crackers). The type of fat used is either a palm oil or a hydrogenated vegetable oil which adds harmful saturated fat or trans fat to kids' diets. Sweet snacks that are sweet and chewy cling to the teeth and set the scene for dental caries.

Healthy snack guide

Here are some suggestions for healthy snacks for kids. Cut it out and post it on the fridge to remind yourself of the great choice kids can have without losing out on nutrition.

Fruit

  • apple, pear, peach or other whole fruit
  • plate of sliced fresh fruit for variety and to make it interesting
  • bunch of grapes or bowl of cherries
  • fruit snack packs such as those packed in clear plastic or canned fruit are handy when you run out of fresh fruit
  • sultana boxes
  • dried fruit and nut packs (not for kids under three due to the risk of choking)

Dairy foods

  • yoghurt, fruit or plain
  • cheese wedge or slice, with water crackers or crispbread
  • cheese on toast
  • banana or berry smoothie

 

Nuts

  • Handful of almonds or peanuts (for older kids)
  • Handful of mixed nuts with raisins or
  • sultanas

Bread

  • bread slices or rolls spread with peanut butter, Vegemite or a little jam
  • Fairy bread (always popular - give soft wholemeal bread a try)
  • toast, muffin or crumpet
  • raisin loaf
  • rice cakes or crackers spread with peanut butter or cheese

Cereals

  • bowl of cereal with milk and banana (great for hungry teens)
  • mini-wheats eaten dryfrom a bowl
  • Weet-Bix or Vita-Brits spread with peanut butter or a little honey
  • nut bar (I like bars with more nuts and seeds than grains eg Be Natural)
Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.