Snacking is important for kids
While ‘grazing’ isn’t a useful feeding strategy, snacking is an important opportunity to keep your child topped up with energy and extra nutrients between meals. It’s useful to think of snacks as ‘mini meals’ as this helps you plan snacks using the same healthy foods that you serve at mealtimes rather than offering typical ‘snack foods.
Choose two to three foods per snack
A good rule of thumb is to include whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruit and veggies. If you hit two from this list in a snack, you’re on the right snack track, three would be even better! Here is a Snack Guide to help you plan your family snacks.
“Parent Provides, Child Decides”
Don’t expect your child to eat everything you serve but do serve things you don’t expect your child to eat! I know that my kids may never taste the quartered cherry tomato, but I know that it’s crucial that they are continually exposed to this food. If they never see it, how will they ever eat it? I’m willing to sacrifice one uneaten cherry tomato a few times of the week. However, if you really can’t bear the thought of food waste then eat it yourself afterwards, everyone’s a winner!
A Week in Snacks
I’ve put together a typical sample week so you can see how to plan balanced snacks for your kids. Small kids need two to three snacks per day, and older kids may need two. Of course, if your kids are in school or childcare you can adapt the snacks to make them suitable for little lunchboxes or their morning snack might be provided by the childcare provider. Offering 14 different snacks every week isn’t realistic. It’s natural to give a variation of the same snack several days in a row. For example, you might serve grapes every day while they’re fresh. That’s no problem, try though to change slightly, so your kids don’t come to expect the exact same snack all the time. One day it could be grapes with cheese and oatcakes, another day grapes with milk and rice cakes, another, grapes with yoghurt and seeds. You get the picture!
Sit down at the table
Eat these snacks when possible at the table and without distractions like TV, tablets and toys. Offer milk or water as drinks.
|Day||Morning Snack||Afternoon Snack|
|Monday||Apple slices with Dip (natural Greek Yoghurt with some almond or peanut butter)||Mandarins with dry cereal (low sugar oat Cheerios)
|Tuesday||Wholegrain rice cake with hummus and quartered cherry tomato||Strawberries with Greek Yogurt and milled flaxseed or Flaxseed crunch|
|Wednesday||Smoothie made with frozen berries, milk and oats||A small cup of veggie soup with wholegrain toast|
|Thursday||Wholegrain crackers with smooth peanut butter and banana||Carrot sticks and breadsticks with cream cheese|
|Friday||Hard-boiled egg with avocado slices and wholemeal toast||½ whole grain bagel with jam and smooth peanut butter|
|Saturday||Pepper slices with grated cheese and oatcakes||Pear with a savoury flapjack|
|Sunday||Homemade mini muffin or scone with cucumber slices||Sliced grapes with cheese cubes and breadsticks|
Out and About Snacks
My advice is to only bring a snack with you if you are going to miss a scheduled snack time. Don’t carry one for the sake of it! These are simple to prepare and quick to put together.
- Pancake with raspberries
- Milk with banana
- Rice Cake with cheese slice and carrot sticks
- Low sugar oat cheerios and blueberries
- Milk with melon slices
- PB&J sandwich (smooth peanut butter and jam)
- Savoury muffin with cucumber sticks
If you need extra support in setting up a meal and snack structure for your family then get in touch today. You can see me, a registered dietitian in my private practice, I can come to your home or we can arrange an online consultation.