One of the biggest challenges of parenting is making sure your kiddos are eating healthy and nutritious foods. However, little ones are notorious for being picky and refusing to eat fruits and veggies. So, how do you make sure you are providing your kids with healthy snacks that they will actually eat?
Kids like easy to eat and love tasty snacks. Being able to prep ahead is also a must for busy families. And making sure it’s easy to eat on the way out the door or between activities is also important. Stocking your pantry, fridge, and freezer with healthy snacks can eliminate hangry moods and ensure that your kids get the proper nutrition.
Here’s our roundup of the best healthy snacks for kids. They are easy to prep and include flavors that kiddos love. Many of them are so delicious that you might find that you enjoy them as well!
First, let’s dive into why healthy snacks are so important in the first place. Kids have notoriously fast metabolisms, so keeping them fueled between meals is important. Snacks are also a great opportunity to supplement the vitamins and minerals that they intake throughout the day.
Low blood sugar can occur when your little one goes too long between eating. This can lead to everything from mood changes to dizziness and confusion. Having healthy snacks on hand makes it simple to keep blood sugar steady and at normal levels.
Many kids are attracted to sweet flavors and will instantly reach for a sugary treat when hunger strikes. But too much sugar can cause a whole host of health problems from obesity to tooth decay. Stocking your kitchen with snacks that only contain naturally occurring sugar like that from fruit will give your kids much healthier options.
90% of children that don’t gain weight suffer from deficient calorie intake. Kids have small stomachs and getting large enough quantities of food in typical meals to meet their calorie needs can be tough. This is especially true if they are active. Providing your kids with healthy, nutritionally dense snacks can help meet their calorie needs so they can grow and thrive.
Kids need a wide range of vitamins and minerals to support everything from their immune system to their energy levels. Well-rounded and diverse snack choices make sure all of these needs are covered. With nutritious choices, they are more likely to have better overall health both physically and mentally.
Being on the go can make it tough to get the proper nutrition. Busy mornings before school and work are overwhelming. Make sure to have plenty of grab-and-go snacks on hand for your kiddos to take along with them to school.
Smoothies are a perfect way to get kids to fill their stomachs with a ton of nutrients. Plus, they are delicious and easy to take on the go. Take some time on the weekend and pre-make your smoothies for the week ahead. You can make large batches and fill freezable drink pouches for each of your children to grab from the freezer as they head out the door for the day.
One good rule of thumb when making smoothies is to combine soft and hard fruits for the best texture. Soft fruits like bananas blend well and give your smoothie a creamy base. Mangoes and pineapple work well for this as well.
Berries are always a good addition to smoothies for great flavor. Mixed berry blends of strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants. Plus, they can be economical if you buy frozen options in bulk sizes.
Other things that add to the nutritional content of smoothies include nut butter and coconut oil that are full of healthy fats. You can also add seeds like chia and hemp for this benefit. Yogurt and cottage cheese can add protein and create an even creamier texture.
Some great smoothie combinations include:
Sometimes prepackaged snacks can get a bad wrap. However, you can’t beat their convenience. When you shop mindfully for healthy choices, you can find some great choices that are both convenient and nutritious.
Look for snack choices that don’t include preservatives or other unhealthy additives. Organic snacks and whole food ingredients should be your priority. Items with high fructose corn syrup and food dyes can actually cause issues with both physical health and mental wellbeing and behavior.
Clif Bars are a great option and they even have a kid’s version created with small bodies in mind. They feature an organic oat blend and come in kiddo-friendly flavors like S’mores and Iced Oatmeal Cookie. They are the perfect choice to add to a lunch box or to stop afternoon hunger pains.
Kashi by Kids also makes a perfect grab-and-go option. Their Superfood Bites are organic and contain ingredients like legumes and coconut flour. They are peanut-free so they are safe for the classroom and contain filling whole grains to get your little ones through the day.
Purchasing pre-packaged snacks at warehouse stores like Costco can get you a large quantity for a great price. Other awesome healthy options include:
Birthday parties and get-togethers can be great opportunities for a sweet treat. However, it’s a good idea to balance your menu with healthy options as well. Provide a spread that includes nutritious choices that are also super kid-friendly.
Kids are usually big fruit fans. Serving it in fun ways can encourage them to eat even more of it. Individual cups can be a simple way to serve fruit cocktails. Kabobs are another great way to serve fruit that kids love. Add a healthy fruit dip for even more nutrition and flavor.
Veggies and hummus are a good way to provide fresh produce with additional protein. Cut carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers into dippable strips. Then allow guests to help themselves to a nutritious snack.
Ants on a log is an old standby and for good reason. The combination of peanut butter and celery with a little sweetness added from the raisins makes a snack that’s both delicious and healthy. Have a peanut allergy in your group? Make the crowd favorite with sun butter instead!
Want a fun way to offer kiddos plenty of delicious fiber? Create a popcorn bar! Use organic kernels and pop them yourselves in an oil-free popper. Then set out toppings like cinnamon and flavored sea salts so guests can customize their own creations.
Every parent has had to decide what kind of snack is the best to give to kids that have asked for a snack when dinner and lunch are just around the corner. You don’t want to ruin their appetite or give them a sugary snack that will make them grumpy rather than happy as they wait for the meal you are cooking.
Snacking between meals doesn’t have to be unhealthy if you pick the right food choices for this need. Kids might want to push back at first about healthy options when they are feeling really hungry right before dinner, but setting the expectation that there will not be sugary snacks or empty calories given out before a meal will create a good habit that can last a lifetime.
Some great ideas for before meal snacks are:
Be sure to pick low sugar or plain yogurt for this need. That dreaded sugar crash can be a real issue with flavored yogurts as they are often full of added sugar and fake flavorings. You can add some fruit or maybe some nuts or other healthy items if your child is bored with plain yogurt.
Many kids do not realize how tasty plain yogurt is until they have tried it with an open mind, so you can try adding just a little bit of fruit at first to see if they will be happy to eat their snack without lots of other added natural sugars.
Kids seem programmed to push back about vegetables as snacks, but this can be an easy habit to break if this is the snack that is commonly offered to hold them over until their next meal. These kinds of snacks can be paired with a small amount of peanut butter or other dip of some kind if your child will not eat them plain.
Make sure that you do not give in to the temptation to offer them sugary dressings or flavored dips that will just make this healthy snack unhealthy immediately. This is not a good snack idea for very small children due to the choking hazard involved, but kids who are older than toddler age can enjoy this kind of snack and feel full for a while until dinner is ready.
If your child likes to dip vegetables into something to eat, hummus can be a great option for this need. Hummus is healthy and very flavorful and can seem a lot like a dip of some kind to your child. You can get hummus with many flavorings included, so you will be able to find the kind of hummus that your child prefers.
This is something that can easily be split up into Tupperware containers so that your child can enjoy it without your help. If your child is not a big veggie eater, you should not tell them that hummus counts as a vegetable product and just give them some crackers to eat it with instead!
This is one of the items that your kids will be sure to love, but which should not be given out in large amounts. You can buy low-sugar trail mix, but most of the mixes that are out there are going to include candy like M & Ms. You will want to give out a couple of handfuls of this kind of snack and make sure that your kids are not inhaling them so fast that they do not even realize they ate anything. This can be a good on-the-go snack that can be offered if you are not at home and your child has gotten hungry between meals as well.
While not every child loves cottage cheese, this is a really healthy way to give your child some protein that will hold them over until their next meal. Adding some fruit slices will give them the benefit of a little different taste profile as well. Some kids will eat cottage cheese right up if there is a sweetener like a fruit slice or two in the cottage cheese. This is a super healthy snack that many kids love as soon as they try it.
Cheese has lots of protein and this is an easy go-to snack for most kids. You can pick from a variety of cheeses that your child might like and offer them a small handful of crackers to go with the cheese. Or, if your child loves cheese, you can just give them the cheese by itself. This is a really filling snack that your kid will always love to be offered and that will make sure they are not hungry again minutes later.
This is a really fun snack that many kids enjoy eating because they are easy to put on your fingers and eat one at a time. Sometimes finding the right foods for your kid to enjoy is about making sure that they can have a little fun while they eat them. This is a simple trick that goes along with cutting sandwiches into fun shapes
One of the most common issues for working parents is that their children come home before they do in some cases. This can be tough if you do not have anyone around to handle the hour or so before you are home and kids might raid your pantry eating all kinds of things that you would prefer they did not eat.
Coming home to empty bags of Doritos and a pantry that has been emptied of cereal and other easy-to-grab snacks can be frustrating as a parent. Thankfully, there are some ways to make sure that your kids are going to eat healthy snacks while they are waiting for you to get home. This requires a little planning in advance but is an easy solution to implement in your home for kids that arrive at the house before you do.
Make sure that you have some Tupperware or other containers that can hold prepared items for a few days to save yourself time. Packing individual snacks and labeling them with the day can make it much easier to be sure that your child is eating the right foods that you have prepared for them for that day.
In these individual containers you can add:
You can also make something like a casserole in advance on the weekend and break it up into individual containers. For kids who are old enough to use the microwave safely, they can heat up this small meal and enjoy it before you are home. This can also be a great way to train your kids to eat smaller portions and wait to see if they are full before having other foods.
Many kids will just mindlessly eat an entire bag of chips if it is available to them, and learn bad eating habits that will follow them throughout their life this way. Teaching them about eating smaller portions can be a valuable lesson that will improve their overall health for years to come.
If you are working on teaching your child to eat healthy foods, you might be struggling to find items that they can eat that do not require the use of cutting tools, the oven, or even the microwave. This can make it harder for you as a parent to get snacks into their hands when you are busy with other things that need to be done.
There are some great snack ideas that kids can actually make themselves if you just show them the steps in advance. This will require that you have some pre-cut items on hand and some pre-sliced cheese but these kinds of products can be purchased easily.
Pita bread is usually a hit with kids and helping them learn to make a little pita veggie sandwich is easy! If you buy some pre-sliced vegetables and make sure that your child knows which condiments are allowed to be used on the sandwich they are making, they can easily stuff these little pitas with healthy veggies and eat them as a snack.
If you make these in advance, you will just need to show your child how to crack and peel them and then they can enjoy these treats on their own! This is a really healthy option and for kids who play sports or are very active, this can be a big help toward getting them through the breaks in between meals.
There are many brands that sell healthy yogurt in individual packaging, and you can show your child where the pre-sliced fruit is or you can buy berries that are naturally made to snack. If you do not want your child to consume an entire box of berries with their yogurt, you can divide these berries into smaller containers for easy portion control.
If your child loves milk and has been used to pairing it with cookies, you can still offer them milk, but instead, pour it over some healthy granola. Granola does come in sugary versions that can compete with the worst breakfast cereals for being unhealthy, but you can buy healthy granola as well. This is a really filling and yummy snack that your child will enjoy and they can easily make it for themselves if they are old enough to pour the milk without spilling.
This is one of the easiest fruits to eat and your child can peel and enjoy this healthy snack without any help. You will be able to just pass them the banana and let them sit down to eat it without assistance. This is also true of apples if your child is old enough to handle biting into the apple on their own. Make sure that you consider possible choking hazards for smaller kids before handing them an entire piece of fruit. Toddlers may not be able to eat fruits safely until they have gotten past choking age.
Sometimes kids wake up in the middle of the night for one reason or another and are just too hungry to go back to sleep. This can provide a real challenge for parents who want to be sure that their kids are not hungry and restless but also want to be sure that they are not giving their kids a bunch of sugar that will keep them up all night.
Giving the right kind of snack in the middle of the night doesn’t have to be a challenge if you have the right items on hand to take care of this need when it comes up. A little planning in advance can make this kind of nighttime hunger a cinch to remedy.
This is an easy item to unwrap and give to your kid when they are hungry in the middle of the night. Offer a small amount of water along with it if need be and then make sure that your child brushes their teeth. Your older kids can easily get this kind of snack out for themselves if they are hungry in the middle of the night.
These handy little applesauce and fruit snack pouches are a little more sugary than might be ideal, but they are easy for kids to eat when they are not totally awake yet. The little pouches make it simple for kids to just suck out the contents of the pouch and you will not have to deal with a big mess related to a tired child trying to eat with a spoon.
This is another easy item to have separated into containers or baggies and your child can even get to these snacks themselves if they are hungry in the middle of the night and are old enough to get their own snack before heading back to bed. You will want to stay away from sugary cereals for this need and stick with something like Cheerios. Pick a cereal that is easy to eat so that you do not have to deal with a big mess in the morning in your kitchen, or a child that is covered in sticky cereal dust when they wake up.
These can be tricky as many of them are quite sugary and unhealthy. You will want to shop for versions of this treat that have the lowest amount of sugar in them. Even so, you will need to be positive that your child brushes their teeth again after they have eaten one of these granola bars to make sure that you do not end up taking them to the dentist for cavities.
This is really only a good option if you are able to supervise the activities that happen after the granola bar is eaten. Most kids will forget to brush their teeth after eating this kind of food if they are not reminded to do so.
It can be tough to set up good snacking habits if you are not at home when your child is eating their after-school snack or if you are not sure that they are making good choices at school where there might be vending machines and other distractions full of sweets and sugary snacks.
For many kids, just setting the expectation that the right portions are going to be eaten during each snack time and that the right kinds of foods need to be eaten is enough. However, for some kids, the attraction of sugary foods is so great that they might not follow your rules when they can trade away their carrot sticks for a candy bar at school.
While you cannot prevent all of this kind of behavior, you can make sure that you do not have sugary or unhealthy foods anywhere in the house if your child is tempted by these items. You can also make sure that you do not offer sugary snacks as special treats when friends are over. Keeping the same routine is important so that your child does not think that the rules about snacking are flexible when you are not around supervising their behavior.
Make sure to work with your kids to try and find snacks that they do like. Trying to force your child to like carrots and celery if they don’t is just going to make them frustrated with snacking hours and more likely to sneak unhealthy foods at every chance they get. Offering satisfying snacks that your child enjoys can help them to learn to eat healthy foods when they are hungry rather than always reaching for chips, soda, and candy.
If you are leaving snacks for your child to eat before you get home from work, make sure that they are clearly labeled with the date and with your child’s name. If you have more than one kid, you will want to be sure that they do not have altercations about who gets to eat what. Making sure that everyone has their own snacks waiting for them can make the experience fun and exciting rather than boring and routine. You will want to be sure that you mix up the ingredients of their snacks sometimes so that they do not get sick of the same items over and over and decide to eat other things.
Resist the urge to snack on the unhealthy things that you will not allow your children to have. While you might eat items that they are not allowed to have sometimes, if you are constantly eating things that they are not allowed to have, you will set a bad example for them that will make them think you are not being honest with them.
Being consistent in your house rules about snacks means making sure that you adhere to them too. This is very important if you want to be sure that your child knows that these choices are made to improve your health. If they see you eating unhealthy foods, they will be less likely to stick to the healthy habits that you are trying to teach when they are old enough to make their own food choices.
Making sure that you take the time to find the kind of foods that your child enjoys can help them to learn to eat the right foods when they are in need of a snack. Guiding your child toward healthy choices that make them feel energized and relaxed is an important part of teaching your child about snacking and how to manage it correctly. This means that you will need to set a good example yourself and that you will need to hold everyone in your home to the same snacking standards.
If you and your child are having conflict over healthy foods in your home, make sure that there are no other options to be had besides healthy food choices. This will make sure that your child is not sneaking unhealthy food when you are not looking and it will prove that you take this part of healthy eating very seriously. Children learn best by example and you need to set a good one if you want your child to follow your lead for healthy eating.
Being able to provide healthy snacks to your child is not that tough if you use these tips and tricks and your family will thank you for taking the time to make sure that they are not forced to eat unhealthy and sugary foods between meals.