How to Choose Healthy Snack Foods for Children

When you were a child, how many times were you told not to eat between meals? Well now there’s good news for kids who love their snacks.

When your toddler requests a snack, think twice about turning them down. It turns out that munching on healthy foods between meals actually helps toddlers get all the nutrients that their growing bodies require. Rosie Schwartz, dietitian and author of The Enlightened Eater says snacking is not only beneficial, it may even be necessary for young children. “Most very young children do not eat enough at mealtime to get their full compliment of nutrients for the day, and with a small nutritious snack between meals, they will be able to pick up the necessary nutrients.”

Nutritionist Denise Beatty says snack time presents the ideal opportunity to try out new foods on toddlers who are often the pickiest of eaters. “If you have a finicky eater and a child who doesn’t like vegetables, snacks may be time to get your child to eat them. It may be the time when they are hungry enough to eat celery and cream cheese or may be the time when they’ll eat grated carrots on peanut butter sandwiches. But this is not the time for sweet things. Snacks should be wholesome and provide kids a little staying power to get them through to the next meal. ”

While snacks are a great idea, over-doing milk and juice isn’t. As Eleanor Brownridge, nutritionist and author of  I’m Hungry explains “one of the biggest mistakes that parents make is letting their children have too much milk. Babies only need about two and a half cups of milk a day. What we find as we talk to parents whose children are picky eaters, those children are drinking four 8 ounce glasses of milk per day or the equivalent. They’re having too much milk and don’t have an appetite for food.”

Eleanor says one of the best drinks for a kid is a glass of cool, clear water. It’ll quench their thirst and leave room for mealtime, unlike a glass of juice. “The other beverage they over-do is juice”, says Brownridge. “Again, juice is an important food but the child only needs about four ounces of juice a day. You see many parents using juice whenever their child is bored or is tired. When a toddler wants a new activity, and they don’t know what to do next, generally they’ll come to mom and say I’m hungry or I’m thirsty. Mom interprets that as time for a snack or time for some juice and gives it to them. The child is actually just bored and wants some interaction with mom and a new activity.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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