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Smart Snacking

Snacking is vital for young children because of their small stomachs. But be careful not to get into the habit of feeding the little ones all day long. Snacking times should be planned throughout the day, with a beginning and an end just like meals. Allow enough time for your child to be hungry again before offering a snack or meal; 1-1/2 to 2 hours between feedings usually works best for preschoolers.

Children who learn good habits at a young age are likely to continue to follow a good example once they are old enough to make choices for themselves. An occasional treat is not the end of the world, and rarely will a child turn down the opportunity to have one, but it should fit into an overall food plan, rather than replace it.

Remember, though, that adults usually set the example. If junk foods are brought home and shared nightly in front of the TV, kids are likely to develop some not-so-healthy habits. On the other hand, if a fresh fruit basket is shared instead, children may learn to make healthier choices.

The following list offers ideas for snacks – although this is by no means a complete list.

Finger-food snacks

Meat/protein foods

  • Cold chicken or turkey
  • Hard cooked eggs
  • Peanut butter
Milk & dairy foods
  • Cheese (sticks/cubes)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Ice milk, frozen yogurt
  • Milk shakes
  • Yogurt
Raw vegetables
(plain or with dip)
  • Broccoli florets
  • Carrots/baby carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery sticks stuffed with cheese or peanut butter
  • Cucumber slices
  • Green beans
  • Red, yellow, or green sweet peppers
  • Tomato wedges/cherry tomatoes
  • Turnip slices
  • Zucchini and yellow squash slices


  • Apple wedges
  • Banana slices
  • Grapefruit sections
  • Melon balls or cubes
  • Peach or pear slices
  • Pitted prunes or plums
  • Raisins or yogurt raisins
  • Seedless grapes
  • Soft dried fruit
  • Strawberry slices
Breads & cereals
  • Animal crackers
  • Breadsticks
  • French toast sticks
  • Fruit-filled cookie bars
  • Graham crackers
  • Mini-bagels
  • Mini-muffins
  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Pretzels
  • Raisin bread
  • Rice cakes
  • Toasted bagel or pita chips
  • Vanilla wafers

From Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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