There’s no doubt that young children need snacks. But what to serve at snacktime (and when, and how much) is a common question that Happy Family Nutrition Advisor Amy Marlow hears from parents. According to Amy, healthy and wholesome snacks don’t have to be a puzzle.
Snack Options Kids Will Love
- Standbys to rely on: Fresh fruit of course. Keep carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, and other vegetables sliced in a container in the refrigerator. This is especially good for after school/before dinner when kids are hungriest.
- More go-to snacks:
- Yummy organic Happy Tot fruit and veggie smoothies in pouches. Kids love their ‘squeezies’ and parents like that they contain Super Chia that provides fiber and omega 3s, nutrients that are hard to get into young children. Put frozen pouches in your child’s lunch box and they’ll keep food cool until everything is ready to be eaten.
- Whole wheat pretzels and whole grain crackers, organic cheese sticks and slices
- Unsweetened dry cereal, organic melt-in-your-mouth Happy Yogis (freeze-dried yogurt and fruit) and dairy-free Happy Creamies (coconut milk and fruit) with an added boost of probiotics for digestive health.
- Homemade whole grain pancakes which can be easily kept on-hand in the freezer.
Tips and Tricks For Mom
- To avoid over-snacking, set a snack-time just as you set meal times and then stick to it.
- Get your kids involved in the prep. Two great snacks to make with your children are muffins and smoothies. Let young kids mix the ingredients, and older children can measure the ingredients and pour the mixture into the muffin tins. To control portion size, use mini-muffin tins instead of full size. Don’t forget to make extra – they freeze well and are a quick snack anytime! Smoothies can easily be made at home with yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit, milk and ice. Kids can get involved by choosing the ingredients, putting them in the blender, and turning it on. Another tip is to freeze smoothies in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
- Turn snack time into a mini-meal. Parents should think about “real” food as being great potential for snacks, like sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes and pizza bagels.
- Sweet Treats have their place and, in my opinion, many children will just get obsessed with them if over-restricted. Allow some of the snacks in your home to be sweet. Give your children healthy sweets such as frozen grapes and homemade fruit popsicles, as well as the occasional ice cream, all-natural or homemade cookies, fruit leathers or fruit snacks. Try to avoid setting a precedent that every evening snack is a sweet, but if you have a sweet treat in the house every so often, and control the portion size, this is a healthy way to teach moderation.
- Eating habits are just that – habits. The best way to set up a child for a lifetime of healthy eating is to get them into the habit early through the provision of healthy foods in and out of the home. Physiologically, a key time for developing healthy food preferences is before age three, as that’s when the child’s taste buds are learning to accept and enjoy flavors.
Amy Marlow is a registered dietitian (RD) and New York State certified nutritionist. In addition to her work as Nutrition Advisor to Happy Family, Amy currently helps manage a Fortune 100 company’s employee wellness program. Amy is the proud mother of Noah, Alana and Jonah.
Happy Family is a leading organic food brand offering a complete line of nourishing meals and snacks for babies, toddlers and beyond. Constantly innovating, Happy Family has been a pioneer in the industry, adding probiotics and extra nutrition to its products—like Salba®, the super chia, as well as plant-based DHA and choline for brain growth and eye health—whenever possible. Happy Family believes that every baby deserves to be a happy baby. Since its launch, the company has underwritten more than 1 million meals through Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that helps to feed starving children in Africa. For more information, visit http://www.happyfamilybrands.com.