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Tips for Kid's Snacks

Most parents try to provide three nutritionally-balanced meals for their children each day. But between meals, some youngsters may still need snacks or "mini meals" to help them get sufficient calories (energy) for their needs.

Smart snacking can help meet daily nutrition requirements that might be missed at meal times. Choosing healthy foods that add nutrients without excessive calories is therefore essential.

The National Parenting Programme and Early Childhood Services offer the following snacking tips to help you do just that:

Snacking Tips

  • To avoid weight gain, keep portions small.
  • Plan ahead and buy healthy snacks. Not only will you save money, but you'll also make better choices.
  • Provide snack choices for your children, but make the choices you offer reasonably nutritious.
  • For grab-and-go efficiency, pre-portion snacks into small plastic bags.
  • For older children, designate an area in your refrigerator or cupboard for healthy snacks that you have selected and that your children like. Let them help themselves without having to ask your permission.
  • Combine snacks from at least two food groups, like proteins and carbohydrates, to pack more nutrients into your child's diet. This will be more filling and will tide them over to the next meal.
  • Adding 1 percent- or skim milk to cereal, or peanut butter to crackers or fruit are two easy ways to add calcium to an otherwise carbohydrate-only snack.

Quick Healthy Snack Ideas

Next time you or your children need to re-fuel, try any of the following:

Dairy

  • String cheese and fruit (canned or fresh)
  • Non-fat cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit
  • Smoothies with milk or yogurt and sliced bananas or strawberries
  • Whole-wheat crackers with cheese or peanut butter
  • Scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt with fresh berries

Fruits and vegetables

  • Raw vegetable sticks with low-fat yogurt dip, cottage cheese or hummus
  • Apples and cheese. Pears and other fresh fruit work well too.
  • Fruit salad
  • Frozen fruit bars
  • Dried fruit such as raisins or plums and nuts

Grains

  • Cereal - dry or with milk
  • Baked potato chips or tortilla chips with salsa
  • Flavoured rice cakes (like caramel or apple cinnamon) with peanut butter
  • Popcorn - air popped or low-fat microwave
  • Vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, graham crackers, animal crackers, or fig bars and a glass of milk.

If chosen carefully, snacks can promote good health by supplying nutrients without adding too many calories. Remember that especially for younger children, snacks should be spaced far enough away from meals so that their appetites are unspoiled.

For more on healthy snack ideas, contact National Parenting Programme Coordinator Selena Dyke at 947-8332 or Selena.dyke@gov.ky.

For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan