When I have first become a mum I was shocked by all the nasty ingredients they put into kids’ snacks. Many products that are considered healthy are in fact full of added sugars. Hidden chemicals and ingredients are in fact found in most baby and kids products including shampoos, creams, and even the clothes they wear.
We all strive to give the best example to our kids from an early age. Feeding healthy snacks to our kids is an important building step towards a healthy and successful future. This is a huge responsibility for us parents who need to ensure that we are giving our kids healthy foods avoiding empty calories.
Nowadays, snacks are becoming an important part of our nutrition just like meals. This is true for adults and kids alike! So it is important that these are well planned and balanced as much as possible in a way that are additional support to kid’s healthy eating plan.
We should also be prepared for the days that we are very busy or not at home. In this case, we can either prepare something from home or otherwise try to carry with us the best reader made choices that we have in the market.
How to Choose Healthy Snacks for Kids?
It’s important when choosing healthy snacks for kids (babies, toddlers, and also older kids) is to keep in mind these tips:
- What are snacks?
Snacks are mini-meals and ideally should provide the same balance of carbs, proteins, and fats in a smaller amount.
- Natural vs Processed
Always prefer a natural, home-made, organic alternative to store-bought products. Avoid processed food and added sugar at all costs and that’s why preparing ahead is vital. (See pt 4)
- Fruits and Vegetables
Any snack should include fruits and vegetables always making sure to wash the products well using white vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, and a firm brush. Also, for non-organic sources, it is most times better to remove the peel before cooking and serving.
Planning and preparing ahead is the key to a healthy diet.
- Teach kids
Teach kids to eat a variety of food even if very young. There is no need for avoiding nuts, legumes, beans, eggs, and meats unless they have any allergies. For babies and toddlers’ food beware of blending well any nuts you serve.
- Store-bought snacks
If you are buying store snacks, then learn to read the ingredients avoiding added sugars, reduced-sodium, trans fats choosing whole grains if possible.
- Pair foods
Pair foods high in carbohydrates such as fruits, veggies, and crackers with dairy products or dairy substitutes, lean proteins so to balance carbs, proteins, and fats. For example, eating wholemeal crackers with a hard-boiled egg or peanut butter. The key is to combine healthy sources of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
Healthy Snack for Kids: Ideas
Best Fresh Fruit Snacks for Kids
We all know that fruits and vegetables are the major and natural source of fiber and vitamins. For this reason, it is very important for children to eat at least a portion of fruit everyday especially in hot summer days when we need to keep hydrated. Unfortunately, many parents are quite concerned because their kids do not eat any fruits at all. Or at least they won’t eat it in a classic way. In this case, we need a Plan B
Firstly, we as parents have to stop making rules and threats forcing them to eat fruit. Then we need to change our behavior towards eating and meal times in order for the child to start appreciating fruit. We can:
- Eat fruits ourselves, setting a good example.
- Let them choose themselves from a variety of fruits instead of choosing for them.
- Let them eat fruit between meals, mixing it with yogurt, nuts, cacao, and maybe some honey, maple syrup, or chocolate chips. Give different names to the smoothies instead of saying banana or strawberry smoothie.
- Play with different shapes and colors.
- Let them eat the fruits they like best without complaining, maybe doing slight additions to introduce them to various seasonal fruits.
- Let them get involved in the kitchen helping you prepare their own plate.
How to Prepare Healthy Snacks for Kids with Fruit
The simplest way how to prepare fruit snacks is but cutting and composing the fruit in a creative and fun way. For example, with a minimum of effort you can cut fruit into small pieces and create:
- cute little animals such as a caterpillar and butterflies
- a creative fruit salad bowl with stars, hearts, and bears.
- a fake pizza with a watermelon base and adding bananas and berries as condiments. (let the kids choose the condiment)
- filling ice cream cones with chopped fruit.
- fruit skewers decorated with chocolate chips, dried coconut, or nuts using lollipop wooden sticks and placing fruits in different shapes.
- fruit popsicles with apple juice, yogurt, milk, and rainbow-colored with different blended fruit.
- fruit juices and smoothies with yogurt, milk, nuts, coconut, and cacao.
- applesauce is very easy to make, can be frozen, and makes a good condiment for waffles and also to pancakes.
Good Dairy and “Vegan” Dairy Snacks for Kids
Dairy and Vegan Cheeses
Cubed/String Cheese can be either be bought directly in the forms of cubes or sticks or else you can buy mozzarella, cheddar or other white cheeses and cut them into small pieces.
Sliced Cheese is still a favorite among kids, especially for toasts. They are very handy to use and some kids also love eating them on their own. It might be very convenient when they wake up after nap time with a hunger tantrum.
Ricotta and Mascarpone Cheese are also a favorite among kids as condiments for bread, pasta, and pies. They can also be used for cakes especially cheesecakes.
Drinkable Yogurt is a portable smoothie that is also rich in protein and probiotics that can be found in stores. Alternatively, these can also be done at home and put in a small cooler before taking outside.
Kefir/Plain Yogurt and Greek Yogurt are all very good alternatives to be used for home-made smoothies. Personally, I prefer the Greek Yogurt which is very rich in protein.
Smoothies can either be store-bought or home-made. I prefer to use the store-bought ones to be used out of the home. However, nothing compares to home-made smoothies prepared with blended fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Dairy/Almond/Coconut/Oats milk can either be bought in a traditional carton but also as shelf packs coming with a straw.
Milkshakes are also available in shelf packs but I would rather prefer to do home-made milkshake adding some strawberries or even some vanilla to the milk. Store-bought milkshakes tend to have many added sugars.
Homemade Snacks for Kids
If you want a list of homemade snacks for kids then check out our list of Kids Recipes.