Healthy Snacks for Kids
Go for something rich in fiber and protein and low in fat and sugar. This will help your kid stay sated and keep her from crashing as she masters long division, says pediatric registered dietitian Tara Harwood. Hot chocolate might be helpful, too: The scant amount of caffeine can raise endorphin levels, which promotes focus.
Choose a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich snack with a moderate amount of fiber (a whole-grain pretzel, whole-wheat graham crackers, unsweetened applesauce), says registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic: “It will be easy to digest and provide a steady source of energy.” Water is also key and better than a calorie-laden sports drink, says pediatrician David McCormick. If your kid’s not into water, try juicy clementines or an all-fruit ice pop.
Foods that contain tryptophan, like dairy and hummus, help produce serotonin, a calming hormone that can make your kiddo drowsy. For more impact, pair these snacks with sleep-promoting complex carbs, found in whole-grain cereals and breads, says clinical registered dietitian Roberta Anding. Keep portions small: The goal is to tide kids over, not charge them up.
- ½ cup skim milk and 1 small oatmeal cookie
- ½ cup whole-grain cornflakes or crisped-rice cereal with ½ cup low-fat milk
- ½ whole-grain pita with up to ¼ cup hummus
- ½ cup cottage cheese with 3 dried apricots
- ½ whole-grain English muffin with 1 ounce melted mozzarella or Swiss cheese
- Roberta Anding, clinical registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition, adolescent medicine, and sports medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston
- Tara Harwood, pediatric registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, Cleveland
- Amy Jamieson-Petonic, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland
- David McCormick, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston
- Jennifer Shu, pediatrician in Atlanta and coauthor of Food Fights ($15, amazon.com)