Healthy snack ideas

You have an important role in developing your child’s knowledge in, and attitudes to, healthy eating and oral health.

Read the transcript for this film 'no sugar and low sugar alternatives'

Mealtimes for young children should provide the opportunity to explore different tastes, smells and colours of food.

Eating is fun and your baby will learn this too. Try not to worry about the mess.

Make sure you give your child a variety of foods. A varied, tasty and enjoyable diet in a child's first years will help your baby and toddler grow and develop their maximum potential, but also help them develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

Try to include something from each of the four food groups throughout the day:

  • Starchy foods - bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starch foods
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy - e.g. milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Protein - meat, fish, beans and eggs

To encourage healthy eating, it is important to reduce overall snacking and concentrate on providing healthy family meals. However, children need energy as they grow to develop and keep them active.

Younger children have small appetites and need regular meals with snacks in between and do need some full fat foods in their diet.

Try to give your child healthy, sugar-free snacks between meals to prevent tooth decay. There are some snack foods that can be harmful to children's teeth if eaten frequently. These include soft drinks, sweets, chocolate confectionary, chocolate and cream-filled biscuits, sugary desserts, highly sweetened cereals and sugared sticky yogurts.

Suggestions for healthy snacks from one year old

  • Fresh fruit - grapes, melon, a banana, strawberries, a tangerine, a pear, a peach, a plum, an apple. Fresh fruit kebabs can be fun to make and eat.
  • Fresh vegetables - tomatoes, celery, carrot and cucumber sticks, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas. Tomatoes, grapes and similar choices should be halved to avoid the possibility of choking for younger children.
  • Sandwiches - try various fillings: cold meat, tuna, grated cheese, egg, salad items, tomato or banana.
  • Some other choices - bread sticks, oatcakes, crackers, rice cakes, a plain or cheese scone, a crumpet, a bagel, a potato scone, a pancake, a toasted teacake.

Reducing the risk of choking

It important to supervise young children when they are eating and provide assistance if required. Young children are still learning about different textures and tastes. Some foods may need additional preparation, particularly for very young children.

  • Remove any stones or pips before serving.
  • Slice, halve or chop small fruit and vegetables like cherry tomatoes and grapes.
  • Cut large fruits into slices rather than chunks.
  • Avoid whole nuts.

Dried fruit and fresh fruit juice can be counted as one portion each of your 5-a-day fruit and vegetables. However, they contain hidden sugars and are best taken at mealtimes. Find out more about hidden sugars in food and drink.

Childsmile has put together some ideas to help you provide a variety of healthy safe snacks for both you and your children to enjoy at home and at school or play.

Plan ahead and take healthy snacks with you when you are out and about, in case suitable snacks aren't available to buy.