Here is an article by a guest writer who has some ideas for healthy snacks for preschoolers. Maybe you can find some your little one will like. Maybe you can even have some fun in the kitchen making them together!
(photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart)
Healthy Snacks for Preschoolers
When it comes to feeding preschool kids, healthy is always on the top of your list of priorities. Preschool age children typically have strong reactions to additives like sugar and fat and can get quite worked up. Avoiding sugary snacks like candy and full of fat foods like chips can mean calmer and better behaved children. With that in mind here are some healthy snacks that preschool age children enjoy:
- Ants on a Log – This classic children’s snack has been a childhood favorite for as long as I can remember. It is very simple. Just take a stalk of celery and cut it into child sized segments. Fill the center with creamy peanut butter and add a few sweet raisins to the top as ‘ants’. There you have it, a tasty and protein filled snack that kids will gobble up. If your child is allergic to peanut butter, you can always fill the celery with cream cheese.
- Frozen Grapes – In the heat of summer there is nothing better than eating something cool. When I was young I remember my father sticking a bunch of grapes in the freezer and I could not figure out why. A few hours later he took them out and I bit into a frozen grape for the first time. From then on I was hooked. Now it has become a summer staple in my house and a great way to encourage kids to eat more fruit.
- Trail Mix – When I am on the go and do not have time to stop for a snack I find that a bag of trail mix will hit the spot. You can purchase trail mix with healthy ingredients like unsalted nuts and dried fruit at the grocery store or you can mix up your own. My preschoolers love pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, and pecans. You can add a few chocolate chips in there for sweetness if you would like but I prefer to avoid that. Dried coconut flakes and banana chips are also a fun addition for kids to crunch on.
- Dried Fruit – I know it may seem a bit strange to some people but my kids loved dried fruit. There is just something so appealing to the tiny bits of fruit. For the older kids I buy large fruit slices. Dried pears and peaches are my all-time favorites, though the peaches can be a bit stinky. Even little kids can nibble on soft apple rings and dried bananas.
- Dry Cereal – Another go to snack on the go is dry cereal. Many children’ cereals are loaded in sugar, so try to pick more natural varieties like Cheerios and Kix. You can even blend different cereals together for a variety of shapes and textures. You can also make a simple Chex Mix type of snack by adding cinnamon or other spices that kids enjoy.
- Goldfish Crackers – What else needs to be said? These tasty fish shaped cheese crackers are baked and much better for you than fried potato chips. However you can also make your own cheese crackers with a few simple and natural ingredients that are just as tasty and even better for your kids. Look up a recipe online and you are sure to find one that will work for you.
- Graham Crackers – Sweet and tasty, graham crackers are a favorite snack just by themselves. I usually buy the low-fat version that does not taste any different. They come in a variety of flavors from cinnamon to honey and even chocolate. My kids also like the Teddy Grahams, but they are usually too expensive for me to purchase.
- Animal Crackers – Although I personally do not like the bland flavor of animal crackers there are many who do, including my kids. They love to bite the heads off of the animals and play zoo with their food as well. Paired with apple juice, you can make kids happy all snack time with just a few crackers.
- Lunchables – Crackers, cheese and meat, what more could you want? I usually make up my own version of this quick and tasty snack. With low-fat whole grain crackers, low fat cheese slices, and lean turkey lunch meat it only takes me a few minutes to cut the meat and cheese up into nice little squares and give everyone a ‘sandwich building kit’ of their own. Kids love to put these together or eat them separately, as one of my kids is wont to do.
- Frozen Banana Pops – Another summer treat is the frozen banana pop. All you have to do to make it is slice a banana in half and poke in a stick. Put it in the freezer until it is hard and then serve. To jazz it up a bit you can also dip it in melted chocolate chips. Yum!
- Apple Sandwiches – An apple sandwich is a fun treat for kids because you are replacing bread with apple slices. First core the apple. Then slice it with the hollow core in the center of each slice. Then take one slice and spread on a thick layer of peanut butter and sprinkle on some raisins if you desire. Top with another slice of apple and your sandwich is done. You can also use a thick slice of cheese between the apple slices.
- Baby Veggies – Getting preschool children to eat their vegetables is sometimes hard. However I have found out that it is much easier to get them excited about their veggies if you buy baby veggies. Baby carrots, tiny bunches of broccoli, and cherry tomatoes all make them smile and want to eat. For picky eaters I also offer small amounts of low fat ranch dressing to dip it in.
- Pretzels – Although I am not a fan of pretzels many people really like them. Large pretzels are often soft and great for smaller kids. They can be flavored with a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of grated cheese or a dash of sugar and cinnamon. They can also be dipped in mustard or peanut butter for a fun addition. Crunchy, small pretzels are a hit with kids when they are paired with cheese or peanut butter. My kids love to eat a slice of banana with peanut butter and a pretzel on top. It doesn’t sound good to me, but if it makes them happy who am I to argue?
- Oatmeal Cookies – Last but not least is another long lived childhood favorite. Whoever came up with the idea of making oatmeal into a dessert was a genius. Kids who won’t normally touch the stuff gobble up the cookies. I substitute low fat and low sugar ingredients in my homemade oatmeal cookies. Adding things like applesauce helps to cut down on the sugar without messing up the taste of the treat. I also like to add raisins or dried cranberries and nuts to my oatmeal cookies for added nutritional value.
There are tons of easy to make healthy snacks that preschoolers will love. These are just a few of my kids’ favorites. Try out some new ideas and stick with the tried and true for your next snack time conundrum. You are sure to make the kids happy whatever you do.
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.