Healthy snacks for children
Keep their hunger at bay with these healthy snack ideas
Healthy snacks can help keep up children’s energy levels between meals, and are a great opportunity to give their diet a nutrition boost. You can help them grow into healthy adults by making sure they are snacking on food that is good for them.
1. Importance of healthy snacks
Healthy snacks are a very important part of our children's diet, and may be offered 2 to 3 times a day.
2. Decide whether your child really does need a snack
Children need time to build up an appetite for their next meal, but on the other hand if they’re getting tired and cranky, a well-timed healthy snack can work wonders. Here’s how to decide whether to give them a snack.
- How long has it been since the last meal? When is the next meal?
- If it’s nearly dinner time, offer a drink of milk instead.
- If they still say they’re hungry, try something healthy like a piece of fruit.
- If they eat that and they’re still hungry, and dinner is a few hours away, they probably need a more filling snack.
3. Have a set of “go to” healthy snacks
It’s a good idea to add some regulars to your shopping list so you always have a healthy option in the house. Here are some ideas.
For a light snack
- A piece of fruit
- Vegetable sticks
- A small pot of yoghurt
- A glass of milk
- 2-3 crackers / 1-2 oatcakes / 2 rice cakes /1-2 breadsticks
- A small handful of nuts and seeds
For a more filling snack
- One slice of wholemeal toast with some mashed / chopped banana
- A cheese, meat or fish sandwich using one slice of bread. You could add some sliced tomato and make a toasty sandwich
- Cheese with 2 or 3 crackers or breadsticks.
- Small bowl of breakfast cereal and milk
- Small bowl of homemade soup
- Sliced apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter for smaller children, and 1-2 teaspoons for children under 12
- Small wholemeal scone and low-fat spread
- 2 or 3 breadsticks with cream cheese for dipping
- Hummus with vegetable sticks
- One rice cake topped with cream cheese and a sliced tomato
- 1-2 crackers topped with a teaspoon of peanut butter for children up to 4, or 2-4 crackers with 1-2 teaspoons for children under 12
- Sliced banana and peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of peanut butter for smaller children, and 1-2 teaspoons for children under 12
- Sliced hard-boiled egg with a slice of toast
- Grapes and cheese, grapes cut into quarters for younger children
- Sliced apple with a small pot of plain yoghurt for dipping
4. Keep snacks fun by varying between savoury and sweet options
- For a mid-morning snack, try a fruity yogurt or mashed banana on toast
- Kids enjoy many savoury options, such as two or three crackers with small slices of cheese, toast with peanut butter, or vegetable sticks with hummus.
- A sweet snack could be plain yoghurt with chopped or stewed fruit
- A savoury one might be cheese on wholemeal toast
5. Have a plan for when you’re on the go
It’s when we are on the go and we haven't planned for the unexpected that we might reach for the unhealthier snacks, like a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate. Here are some ideas for healthier snacks you’ll find in most shops.
- Fruit - most shops will have bananas and apples somewhere in the shop.
- A small bag of popcorn for older children
- Single-portion cheese packs
- A small bag of raisins
- A small slice of fruit loaf
6. Prepare ahead
If you have time at the weekend, make some healthy homemade snacks to use during the week. Here are some recipe ideas:
If you have more time on a weekday, these delicious hot snacks are quick to prepare if you have the ingredients ready to go:
7. Show them how it's done
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:
Cheese and tomato on toast
Peanut butter bagel