Snacks for Children

Once I mention that I have two kids at home, two things happen:

  • I see stunned faces that people actually think I am old enough to have children
  • They ask me for snack ideas for their own children
First, I am older than I look.
Second, I love to give snack ideas! I think snacks are important for children but unfortunately most people actually think of “snacks” as “treats” which can lead to unhealthy choices. I also think that a lot of parents assume that their children should be eating differently than they are. The only differences between children and their parents’ eating habits are that the children usually will just eat less. In fact, here is a great article outlining the finding that parents typically eat less healthy than their children:
The plate method works for everyone: 1/2 of the plate should be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 whole grain and 1/4 lean protein. Each snacks should have at least a carbohydrate and a protein. Here are a few past blog posts for meal and snack ideas:
Here is also a great article on some guidelines for snacks for kids. Again, I think the same principles apply to adults as well!
In general, kids may need something to eat every 3-4 hours. Their stomachs are smaller and hold less food so they are less able to make it long hours without eating. If they do go too long without food, they may become irritable and tired. We call it being “hangry” (hungry and angry) at our house. Snacks are a great opportunity to give children the nutrients they need for growth so be sure they are choosing healthy options. Most children do not meet the recommendation for at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day. Snacks can be a great way to bridge that gap. If you are interested in food group recommendations or serving sizes for children, this may be a helpful link:
What are your favorite snacks, either for yourself or for your children?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD