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Healthy Living

Healthy Snacks: Quick Tips for Parents

A dad holds his young child while the child holds an apple up to his mouth for him to bite into.

Snacks don't need to be unhealthy. There are plenty of healthy snack options that give your school-aged kids important nutrients and help satisfy hunger between meals.

Try these healthy snack ideas.

Combine fruits and veggies with dairy or proteins:

  • Make “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
  • Add fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, or canned) to fat-free or low-fat yogurt — look for canned, dried, and frozen fruit with no added sugars
  • Blend fruit and yogurt with a small amount of 100% fruit juice to make a tasty smoothie — try soy yogurt with added calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D for a non-dairy option
  • Dip vegetable “matchsticks” (thin sticks made from fresh carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers) in hummus (a dip made from chickpeas)
  • Top apple slices with nut butter — or try them on their own
  • Keep fresh fruit in a place that’s easy to reach in the refrigerator or on the kitchen table — this will make it easier for kids to grab a healthy choice

Combine whole grains with dairy or proteins:

  • Top whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese
  • Top whole-wheat bread or rice cakes with nut butter
  • Melt low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla to make quesadillas — try adding black beans for an extra boost of nutrition
  • Mix air-popped popcorn with dried fruit and unsalted nuts for homemade trail mix — and serve with a glass of fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1%) milk
  • Make a mini pizza — top half of a whole-wheat English muffin with spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables, and low-fat shredded cheese and heat it up in the microwave or oven

Snack healthy on the go.

  • Take unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits
  • Grab fresh vegetables or fresh fruit
  • Pack low-fat string cheese sticks
  • Use small reusable containers or baggies to take snacks on the go

Set the rules.

  • Teach younger kids to ask before they help themselves to snacks
  • Eat snacks at the table or in the kitchen, not in front of the TV or computer
  • Serve snacks like pretzels or popcorn in a bowl — try not to let kids snack directly out of the bag or box
  • Serve water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead of soda or fruit-flavored drinks
  • Most of the time, serve whole fruit instead of juice — when you do serve juice, make sure it’s 100% fruit juice and give kids no more than half a cup per day

Content last updated March 30, 2023

Reviewer Information

This content on healthy snacks for kids was adapted from materials from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health Weight-control Information Network (WIN).

Reviewed by:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

For more information on nutrition for kids, check out: