Snacks are an important part of the diet of our little and not-quite-little ones. If chosen right, they provide energy and nutrients essential for your child’s development. Here is everything you need to know about snacks.
Plan and portion snacks in advance
Generally, kids need about 2 to 3 snacks in the day. Planning in advance will ensure that you don’t miss any. Snacks should not be given too close to meals time. Stop snacking at least one hour before meals.
Choose foods from all food groups
Snacks are an opportunity to meet not only your child’s energy needs but also their nutrient requirements. Vary the snacks you offer to your child to include dairy, fruits, veggies, starch, fats and protein-rich foods. This way you will ensure that no nutrients are left out.
Just like meals, snacks should be eaten in an area without distractions. Avoid eating while watching TV or being distracted on any other devices. Also, encourage the child to have their snack in the same place as their other meals.
Get your child involved in the food preparation
This will increase the chances of them wanting to eat it.
Beware of choking hazards, especially for kids age 4 and below, for example:
- Hot dogs and sausage links
- Meat chunks, unless finely chopped and combined
- Nuts, seeds and peanut butter
- Raw apple and pear slices
- Whole grapes
- Dried fruit
- Raw vegetables
- Whole kernels of corn
- Popcorn and chips
- Small candies and chewing gum
Here are 10 healthy, easy snacks that even your child can prepare (some with your help):
- Parfait: Vanilla or plain yoghurt layered with fruit, dried cereal and seeds.
- Smoothie: Blend low-fat milk with frozen strawberries and banana.
- Sandwich: Use wholemeal or multi-grain bread and add cream cheese and tomato. To make it fun, shape it using a big cookie cutter. Eat the fun shape and the cut edges as well.
- Vegetable sticks and nut butter: Spread celery and/or cucumber sticks with nut butter and top it with raisins.
- Fresh fruits and yoghurt: add fresh fruits in plain yoghurt.
- Wholegrain waffle/pancake: Toast a wholegrain waffle or pancake and top it with yoghurt and fruit.
- Hummus: Spread hummus (chickpeas and sesame paste blend) with vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrot, celery)
- Homemade granola bars: Bake oats with dried fruit
- Sweet potatoes chips: You just need sweet potato and olive oil. Oven bake it.
- Banana Cake: Use wholemeal flour and very ripe bananas. No need to add sugar.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat right: Food, Nutrition and Health tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Smart Snacking Tips for Kids. 2018