Healthy snacks for your kids

The recommended feeding routine for babies and toddlers is 3 meals a day with 2 snack times. Young children have small stomachs so can’t eat much in one go so it’s much better to give 3 light meals with snacks between. They also burn off energy very quickly and consequently need to replenish more often. It may even feel like your child is hankering for something to eat almost every hour! And it’s not really the regularity that your child might have to eat, it’s what they eat. Snacks are an excellent opportunity to give them healthy food, and you certainly don’t have to reach for a packet of crisps or biscuits (except in those emergency situations like delayed flights, when only a vending machine is offering up sustenance!).

Here are some ideas for healthy snacks you can offer your child, at home or out and about (and some of these are ideal lunchbox goodies for when they start school)

  • Pieces of fruit peeled and sliced to make it as easy as possible to eat
  • Dried fruit (Apricots, raisons, figs)
  • Hummus with vegetable sticks (carrots and cucumber good) or pitta bread
  • Other dips such as avocado or mild salsa
  • Plain popcorn made at home (you just need some corn and a saucepan with a lid!)
  • Rice cakes
  • Homemade ice-lollies
  • Homemade milk shakes (ice, milk, yoghurt and fruit)
  • Fruit spread on crackers/krispbreads
  • Banana bread
  • Cheese cubes (on sticks)
  • Little pots of jelly
  • Brown toast fingers with fruit spread, honey, nut butter (if no allergy), hummus

Making food look interesting and exciting, will encourage your child to eat it. Simply by putting a few cubes of fruit on a cocktail stick could entice your little one to eat fruit they might not usually try. Also involving your child in making the snacks, like ice-lollies and milk shakes, will build their excitement for eating them.

Shop bought snacks

Let’s not pretend we can live without biscuits… They’re quick and easy because let’s face it, we don’t always have time to put together exciting arrays of snacks (although an airtight box of prepared fruit in the fridge will last a good couple of days). There are some relatively healthy biscuits out there now. Organix do great biscuit snacks sweetened with fruit juice, as do Plum baby and Ella’s Kitchen.

There are also more healthy crisps on sale today than perhaps when we were growing up. Again Organix do a good selection or if too expensive look for the crisps with lower salt and fat content.

It’s good to try and get into the habit of buying a banana or apple for your hungry little one when you’re out and about, than the more unhealthy options. Most food shops have some kind of fruit selection and/or dried fruit. By giving healthier snacks you’re not just getting your child into good habits for later in life, and helping them maintain a healthy weight, you’re also boosting their immune system to fight off nasty bugs and viruses. An apple a day and all that!

Do check the ingredients and fat content on the packaging of biscuits, crisps, cakes etc as you’ll be surprised how much crap is packed into s seemingly simple choc chip cookie. But a treat snack once in a while really isn’t going to hurt. And important thing to remember is that it’s all about moderation.

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