Snacks for children
Keep their hunger at bay with these healthy snack ideas
It has become the norm to give food like crisps, sweets, sugary drinks and bars to children as snacks. In fact, junk food is the second-most common food group eaten by children.
Children need snacks that are nutritious if they are to grow up into healthy adults. Here’s our advice on how to ensure your kids are snacking on food that is good for them.
First, decide whether your child really does need a snack
safefood nutritionist, Dr Marian O’Reilly says we should give snacks when they are really hungry and explains how she decides with her son.
Snacks don’t always have to be sweet
- Kids enjoy many savoury options, such as two or three crackers with small slices of cheese, or toast with peanut butter.
- If you’re on the go, a small bag of popcorn or single-portion cheese packs are easy to grab from the shop.
Keep snacks fun by varying between savoury and sweet options
- A sweet snack could be plain yoghurt with chopped or stewed fruit
- A savoury one might be cheese on wholemeal toast
Cut down on daily treats
- A small treat once or twice a week is fine
- Work out which days are treat days with your kids so everyone is clear on what to expect
Keep treats out of sight
- Avoid having fatty and sugary foods or drinks freely available
- Have fruit and healthy foods in places they can reach easily. Your kids will become familiar with seeing them as snack options
Share your healthy snacking plan with family and friends
- Explain the changes you are making, so they understand that you want your kids to eat less junk food and more healthy snacks
Children will do as you do, not as you say
- If your child sees you enjoying an apple as a snack, they will be encouraged to try one too
Watch: healthy snack ideas
These tasty snack options are great for adults and children:
For a light snack
- piece of fruit
- vegetable sticks
- small pot of yoghurt
- glass of milk
- 2-3 crackers / 1-2 oatcakes / 2 rice cakes
- small handful of nuts and seeds
For a more filling snack
- one slice of wholemeal toast with some mashed / chopped banana
- cheese, meat or fish sandwich using one slice of bread. You could add some sliced tomato and make a toasty sandwich
- cheese with two or three crackers or breadsticks.
- small bowl of breakfast cereal and milk
- small bowl of homemade soup
- sliced apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter
- small wholemeal scone and low-fat spread
For the time you’re not prepared and need to grab something in a shop
- piece of fruit
- small yoghurt pot
- small bag of popcorn (if over 5)
- wholemeal scone – if it is big divide it up
Wait until they ask for a snack
Consultant dietitian, Sarah Keogh explains how healthy snacks can help children eat a balanced diet. She also has a great technique for introducing new foods into the diet.