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Healthy Snacks for Kids

Make the most of between-meal treats with these healthy snacks for kids.

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Children need to eat more than three times a day—it's just a fact of life! So parents, we need to have a snack strategy. With a good supply of healthy snacks for kids, you can actually improve your family's diet. I have one child who loves fruits and veggies, so I encourage him to eat snacks with protein. I also have a child who picks at her vegetables at mealtime, so I provide her with appealing fruit and veggie snacks. Stock your pantry (and your minivan) with these more nutritious munchies:

1. Fruit and Veggie Snacks

Watermelon is a healthy snack for kids
Catherine Holecko

Use snacks as an opportunity to boost your child's daily intake of produce; she should be getting at least five servings a day. Snacks with fruit and veggies are tasty, colorful, and packed with lots of vitamins and antioxidants. Many also contain water to help your child stay hydrated. Pair fruit chunks or veggie strips with a protein snack (see below) or a dip made with low-fat yogurt, cream cheese, or nut butter to boost nutrition value and make snacks more filling.

2. Protein Snacks

Roasted chickpeas by Stephanie Gallagher
Stephanie Gallagher

Protein is important for kids' growth and it's also filling, so its calories are doing double duty. One word of warning: Protein-packed foods often contain fat and salt too. Both are fine for most kids, in small amounts.

3. Healthier Sweet and Salty Snacks

Popcorn in a bowl
Stockbyte
Sometimes, only a sweet or salty treat will do. When you or your child craves one of these often unhealthy items, substitute a more nutritious version. If you swap baked items for fried and choose whole grains, you'll still get a savory crunch, but with less fat and more fiber. More fiber also means more filling, so you don't need to eat as much. Look for whole-grain, low-salt, and/or baked versions of your favorites; then pair with protein, fruit, or vegetables for a well-rounded snack.

4. Healthy Snacks for Kids: On the Go

Girl eating an apple
Photodisc

If you're ever scoured the contents of a vending machine trying to find a decent snack for your child, you need this list of snacks to go. Keep these portable, packable items handy at home, in the car, or in your bag for a healthier alternative to impulse buying. For more ideas, check the natural foods area at your grocery store. But be sure to read labels for hidden ingredients or surprising sugars and calories. The snacks on this list are generally good choices, depending on your child's age, energy level, and what he eats at mealtimes.

5. Healthy Snacks for Pre-Game, Post-Game, and Half-Time

Boys on sidelines at soccer game eating oranges
Alistair Berg / Digital Vision
Keep young athletes strong and fit with healthy half-time snacks, and pre- and post-game meals and treats, that provide the right nutrients at the right time. It's also important to limit ingredients that will impede performance (like fats).

6. Healthy Halloween Treats

Vegetable skeleton for Halloween from Whitney Moss, RookieMoms.com
Whitney Moss / RookieMoms.com

One way to keep kids from loading up on candy? Fill them with lots of healthy Halloween treats before they hit the streets to trick-or-treat. Try serving these snacks at your Halloween party. They're clever enough to tempt kids' palates, but low on sugar.

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