Tips for healthful snacks for your kids

April 27, 2011|Lynn Little

Most kids like snacks. Think of snacks as mini-meals that help provide nutrients and food energy your child needs to grow, play and learn.

  • Help your child snack smart. Your child has a small stomach, so he or she probably eats less at meals than you do. Smart snacks can help your child eat and drink enough during the day. Most children do best when they eat four to six times a day.
  • Keep healthful snacks handy. Choose snack foods moderate in fat, sugar and salt.  Choose snacks high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.  
  • Let snacks fill in the gaps. For example, if your child misses juice for breakfast, offer fruit at snack time.
  • Time snacks carefully. Feed them about two to three hours before the next meal.  That way your child will be hungry when meals are served.
  • Offer snacks to satisfy hunger. Skip the urge to offer a snack to quiet tears, calm your child or reward behavior. That can lead to emotional overeating later on.  
  • Keep snacks small. If your child is still hungry, he or she can ask for more. Let your child decide what enough is.
  • Encourage tooth brushing after snacking. Especially after your child eats bread, crackers and sweet foods.
  • Snack wisely yourself. Do you snack when you feel stressed or bored, or just when you are hungry? What foods do you snack on? Remember, your child learns snack habits by watching you. Be a great role model.
  • Go easy on snacks with added sugars. Offer milk, juice or water as snack drinks. Soft drinks and fruit drinks can crowd out foods your child needs to grow and stay healthy.
  • Healthful snacking can help you and your child to stay more alert and think more clearly. Keep healthful snacks handy. Avoid desserts like cake, doughnuts and soft drinks. Most often, try to choose snacks that fit within the food groups on MyPyramid (  
  • If possible, get your child involved with making snacks; he or she is more likely to eat a snack they have helped prepare.  
You can find healthy snack ideas at,;; and you can also check for 25 healthful snacks for kids.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.
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