Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

As a parent or caregiver, the health of your child is in your hands…and it’s likely what you obsess over. And when your kiddos are asking for snacks multiple times a day, it can be a challenge to know what to do. What do I feed them? What are some healthy snack ideas for kids?

yogurt bowl

When searching for healthy snack ideas for kids, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. How do I get my kiddos to eat healthier snacks, not just the sugary, processed snacks they keep asking about? Is it worth the fight every day? This is a really common struggle – if this sounds like your house, please know that you’re not alone. 

One of the best ways to help children develop healthy habits and healthy bodies is to provide healthy food for them when they are young. 

In this blog post, we will discuss 5 ways that you can improve your child’s snacking habits so that they get the nutrition they need while still enjoying the snacks that you’re offering!

Do kids need snacks?

Yes! 

Children need snacks in order to maintain healthy energy levels and to get the nutrients their growing bodies need. In general, I recommend that you offer your younger children three meals and three snacks daily. As kids get older, 1-2 snacks per day may be enough. 

What does “healthy” mean?

There are many healthy snack ideas for kids that you can feed your child, but it’s important to know what healthy means. Healthy snacks can mean different things. Of course I would prefer that you focus on snacks that are low in added sugar and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, most of the time. BUT, what is most encouraging for your child is to help them understand the why behind what you are offering.

Choosing phrases like, “these foods help us have energy and will keep us full until dinner time” is much more helpful long-term for our children than phrases like, “no more sugary cereal, it’s bad for you!”

It is also important to cultivate these snacking habits and helpful verbiage now so that the habits can continue into adulthood and children don’t learn to demonize particular foods and food groups. 

With these five tips, you’ll have no problem teaching your child healthier snacking habits!

Tip 1: Pair Two Foods

For optimal nutrition and satisfaction, I recommend that you offer different foods groups when giving your kiddos snacks. Not only does this give you the opportunity to make a more satisfying snack, but it also gives your child more variety throughout the day. 

Some easy food pairings are:

●     Freeze-dried strawberries and dry cereal

●     Crunchy chickpeas and string cheese

●     Carrots and tortilla chips dipped in guacamole

●     Smoothies made with fruit and yogurt

●     Banana or apple with nut butter

●     Yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola

Offering more than one food item is also helpful for gently exposing picky eaters to different foods that might be out of their comfort zone for now. Keep the pressure off (no forcing a bite) and just make the experience fun.

And if your children are usually having processed and packaged snacks that you’d like to get away from, offer the new foods with the packaged snack instead of just taking the packaged snack away. 

Tip 2: Vary presentation

It takes anyone a while to get used to something that feels new. And for kids – especially our picky eaters – new can mean scary and uncomfortable!

Think about carrots. Baby carrots are one way to offer carrots to your kiddos as a snack, but there are other options, too! 

You can also offer carrots as a pureed pouch with carrots in the mix, shredded carrots for a different texture, roasted carrots for a different flavor, and even peels of a large carrot (feel free to call them ribbons!). 

Each time your child has a chance to get to know the food in a low-pressure environment, it helps to build their confidence and eventually try it (and maybe even like it!).

I know that was true of our daughters, particularly our oldest. It wasn’t until we involved her in the process of cooking and added mushrooms to a rice dish would she even try them!

Tip 3: Keep the portions small

If you’re working on new foods, snack time is a great opportunity because if they don’t eat much (or any) of the new food, dinner is right around the corner. By the time dinner is here, everyone tends to be more tired and less patient, so it can feel more difficult to make progress at that time. 

When offering new foods at snack time, keep the portions of the new food small. For your child, it makes the experience less overwhelming.

And if age-appropriate, use toothpicks or other fun tools to serve the food. This keeps the experience more fun and playful for our kids, especially kids who can get overloaded with too much sensory information.

One of my favorite ways to offer after-school snacks is to serve them in a muffin tray. It’s fun, relaxed, and lets the kids feel like they have true autonomy over the choices.

Tip 4: Compare

You know what’s fun and lower pressure? Exploring!

Instead of forcing your child to “just take a bite,” make the new food feel fun. This is lower pressure and more fun for everyone, not just your kiddo. 

Try buying a few different varieties of a new food next time you’re at the grocery store. For example, four or five different kinds of apples. And during an afternoon when you have some free time, ask your child to describe how the apples are different in terms of size, color, and smell. 

Which one smells the best?

Next: cut very tiny slices of each type of apple and invite your child to try them. Which apple is the sweetest? Most sour? Crunchiest?

Have fun ranking and exploring: this is way more fun than commanding your child to try a bite!

Tip 5: Involve your child

The more that you’re able to offer your child the opportunity to be involved, the better. For example, if you’re shopping for healthy snacks at the grocery store, ask your child which two healthy snacks they want to try this week.

Next: You can also offer choices when it comes to how foods are prepared. For example, would your child like their apple sliced or diced? Would they like to eat it with a dip, like nut butter?

We love having this snack after school! So easy, fun, and versatile.

Kids can do far more tasks in the kitchen than most parents would guess. Will it be slower and messier to get them involved? At first: yes! But with time, their skills will grow (and the mess will slowly diminish).

Your child is going to be more open-minded about foods that they’ve helped to prepare.

Favorite snack recipes

Some of our favorite healthy snack ideas for kids include:

PBJ Balls

Muffin Tin Snack Trays

Smoothies

If you have active kiddos or athletes in your home, be sure to check out my post about pre and post workout snack ideas too!

Keep it simple and FUN!

Being a parent in an environment with so many snack options can be very difficult. By partnering with a registered dietitian, you will learn how to conquer snacktime with proven strategies to reach your health goals to nourish your family’s health…even at snack time! I can’t wait to show you how!

Be sure to download my snack guide here!

A picture of the free download illustrating healthy snack pairings.

References

Shield, Jo Ann. Kids Eat Right (2019, March 4). When Should My Kids Snack?

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/when-should-my-kids-snack

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