- Learn why snacks matter for kids
- How big should snacks be?
- Discover energizing and healthy snack ideas
Should you offer children snacks?
Yes! Snacks play an important role in feeding children as they let them take in more energy between meals!
Have they eaten enough?
Many things influence children’s hunger and appetite. But only the children themselves know how much food their body requires. Children who have had a very satisfying breakfast just a couple of hours before snack time, for example, may not be hungry for their morning snack.
When should you offer a snack?
So that children can build an appetite, the best time for a snack is about halfway between meals and at least two hours before the next meal.
Snack time presents an excellent opportunity to chat about food with the children. You can talk about their favorite foods or foods that they are not familiar with or even where foods comes from.
What makes a nutritious snack?
School-age children can have snacks that contain one or more foods. Base your choice of foods on when their next meal will be (e.g., yogurt for a morning snack if lunch is soon, whole-grain toast and hummus for an afternoon snack if dinner is set for later).
For younger children, it is suggested that you offer a snack that includes a source of carbohydrates (e.g., vegetables, fruit, whole-grain cereal) and a source of protein (e.g., legumes, milk products).
- The carbohydrates quickly satisfy hunger.
- The protein keeps hunger at bay until the next meal.
It’s important to consider dental health when planning snacks because children can’t always brush their teeth when they’re not at home. Choose foods that have less acid and sugar and that don’t stick to the teeth (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, yogurt, cheese, legumes, nuts and whole-grain products). In addition, firm cheese helps protect teeth.
Ideas for a nutritious snack
Whole fresh fruit* (e.g., berries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums) + A smoothie or flavoured silken tofu
Raw veggie sticks* (e.g., carrots, cauliflower, peppers, turnip) + Small pieces of cheese (e.g., Cheddar, Gouda) or a yogurt-based dip
Pieces of fresh fruit* (e.g., mangoes, pineapples, cantaloupes, peaches, kiwis) + Cottage cheese or home-made milk-based dessert (e.g., pudding, rice pudding, tapioca)
Apple slices* + Soy butter as a spread or a yogurt-based dip
Whole-grain crackers or whole-wheat pitas + Hummus or tofu spread
Unsweetened fruit puree or dried fruits* (e.g., apricots, prunes, cranberries) + seeds* (e.g., sunflower or pumpkin)
Home-made whole-grain muffin (e.g., bran, oatmeal) or whole-grain cereal + yogurt or UHT milk (milk that can be kept at room temperature before opening)
*These foods can be a choking hazard for young children. Prepare such foods in a way that reduces the risk.
For more snack suggestions, obtain a free copy of the brochure A Practical and User-Friendly Guide: Breakfasts + Snacks + Lunches.