The Smart Parent's Guide to Healthy Snacking

Fill-in-the-Gap Snacks

Did your child skip milk at lunch? Not eat her apple? Here are some essential nutrients and foods she might be missing, plus treats that will pick up the slack.

Calcium

Why kids need it: Calcium is crucial for proper growth and bone building during childhood. Eleven percent of 1- to 3-year-olds and 40 percent of 4- to 8-year-olds don't get enough.

Power snacks: Calcium-fortified mini waffles; ice-cream cone filled with yogurt; mixed cereal and fruit; chunks of banana dipped in yogurt and rolled in cereal; pretzel sticks with cheese cubes on either end.

Fruits and vegetables

Why kids need them: They're packed with vitamins, fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Plus, they're low in calories and fat-free--and help keep kids hydrated.

Power snacks: A fruit and veggie smiley face on a plate (use peanut butter as the "glue"); baked chips and salsa; Apricot Cookie Bars.

Protein

Why kids need it: Protein helps build muscle needed during peak growth. It also helps fight infection.

Power snacks: A piece of ham rolled around string cheese; hard-boiled-egg wedges; peanut butter spread on apple slices; whole-wheat pita cut into quarters and spread with bean dip.

Fiber

Why kids need it: High-fiber diets tend to be healthier overall--in part because fiber-rich foods boast more nutrients and prevent overeating. Fiber also reduces constipation.

Power snacks: Wheat germ sprinkled into yogurt and ice cream; whole-wheat tortillas spread with hummus; raisin bran and milk.

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