Healthy Snacks

How do I get my kids to eat snacks that are good for them?

The makers of snack foods know which people in the family to gear their advertising toward –the children of course! As a parent, it is becoming more difficult to get kids interested in fresh fruit and vegetables when their eyes are drawn to all the colorful packaging of sugar-sweetened cereals, sodas, cookies and snack cakes.

Try to teach your kids that foods shouldn’t be looked upon as “good” or “bad.” All foods, even sweets or higher fat snacks can fit into a healthy diet occasionally. The most practical approach is not to include these less nutritious snack foods on your grocery list. It is fine to go out for an ice cream, a soda, or buy individual-sized chips or candy when you feel it is time for a treat. This shows children that these foods are acceptable, but not readily available at home to be eaten in unlimited amounts. The sooner this approach is taken, the easier your job will be in getting your children to eat healthier, even at snack time.

Healthy Snack Ideas

  • Fresh fruit (apples, oranges, banana, grapes, peaches, pears, melon). Try sliced combinations or offer yogurt for dipping .
  • Baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower tops (low-fat dressings for dipping)
  • Low-fat or fat-free yogurt
  • Vanilla wafers or graham crackers dipped in yogurt
  • Applesauce
  • 1/2 bagel with fat-free strawberry cream cheese
  • Pretzel twists
  • Flavored rice cakes (caramel or popcorn)
  • Low-fat microwave or air-popped popcorn
  • Dried fruits (apricots, raisins, cranberries)
  • Trail mix made with cereal (Chex or Cheerios), pretzels, nuts, seeds, dried fruits
  • Mozzarella cheese stick (part-skim) with fruit chunks and low-fat crackers
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple chunks
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Celery with low-fat cream cheese and raisins
  • Cereal bar (non-frosted) with milk
  • Low sugar cereal with fresh fruit
  • Home baked skinless chicken breast nuggets with honey mustard sauce
  • 1/2 turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich with honey mustard and fruit slices
  • 100% juices (limit to 1 or 2 eight-ounce cups per day to avoid juice taking the place of fresh fruits and lean milk)
  • Low-fat or nonfat chocolate milk
  • Low-fat or nonfat yogurt drinks

Dessert Snack Ideas

  • Fruit juice bar
  • Jello with fruit
  • Fruit Newton Cookies (2)
  • Animal Crackers (15)
  • Fruit smoothies made with frozen yogurt, frozen fruit, Carnation instant breakfast
  • Yogurt creamsicles (combine 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/2 cup fruit juice concentrate (undiluted). Freeze in molds.

Note for parents of babies and toddlers

At 8 months old to 1 year, your child will be able eat small portions of some of the snacks listed above. Typically it is recommended that cow’s milk, egg whites and citrus fruits not be offered until after 1 year of age. You should also avoid offering nuts until your child is at least 2 years old. Always supervise your baby or toddler while eating to avoid choking. “Choke foods” include raisins, cranberries, grapes, chunks of carrot, nuts, seeds, chunks of peanut butter, hard candies, hotdog pieces, and popcorn. When in doubt, chop it or wait until your child is older. The danger of choking on these types of foods remains high until age 4.

Written by Terri Murphy, RD, CDE for McKesson Health Solutions LLC.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.