Children up to 10 years need to eat every four to six hours (maybe more) to ensure they have enough energy. Keep in mind, however, that grazing all day isn’t ideal due to the continual exposure of the teeth to food. Your child should eat regularly and include two to three snacks a day. Snacks are vital to reduce hunger, maintain energy and provide nutrients.
Ensure that snacks are as nutritious as meals, avoid overly fatty foods and sweetened foods or drinks; these can be energy dense and may displace other foods. Giving milk after a snack, rather than before or with, can be a good idea. It’s also be helpful to have jars of healthy snacks in the fridge and cupboard that can be rotated. For example; keep dried fruit like peaches, apricots, apples and pears - choose one fruit each day and rotate them to keep it interesting for you little one. Another may be crackers like wholemeal, rice crackers, rye and even gluten-free, again rotating them. You can do the same thing with breads. These foods can be stored and will keep for some time; they can then be combined with fresh fruit, yoghurt and other fresh foods. So, for example, a child may have snacks composed of strawberries, dried pear, wholemeal pumpkin scones and natural yoghurt one day; then apple, sun-dried apricot halves, rye crackers and cheese the next, and so on.
The following ideas are provided in order to assist you in meeting one of the most important dietary guidelines – VARIETY. Some are for home, while others can be used for lunchboxes and bags.
Personally, I like to offer both fruit and something more sustaining at every snack – for example fruit and yoghurt, fruit and crackers, fruit and cheese. Snacks may include:
- Fruit sticks; 1–2 a day (containing 100% fruit only).
- Sticks of cheese; 1–2 day.
- Fruit (all the ones ending in “berry” are very nutritious, but remember variety is the key).
- Crackers (organic rice, rye, sesame and water crackers particularly those low in sugar and salt).
- Carob and buckwheat crackers.
- Healthy sugar-free biscuits.
- A bagel with avocado and/or cheese.
- Frozen grapes are a fantastic treat on hot days (slice in half if you are concerned about choking).
- The same goes for frozen melon, banana and orange quarters.
- Yoghurt can safely be frozen as a great hot day snack or for lunch boxes.
- Snake peel an orange and then rewrap with the peel so it keeps fresh until eaten.
- Cream cheese on crackers.
- Falafels and veggie sausages.
- Wholemeal crumpets, bagels and muffins.
- Naturally sun-dried sultanas, dates or figs (sulphur dioxide and pip free).
- Healthy muffins, e.g. those that are organic and high in calcium; made with fruit (figs and sultanas), wholemeal flour and reduced sugar – the health food shop variety are often nutritious.
- Smoothie (with mixed berries) – you can also freeze them and give them as ice-blocks as a summer treat or at parties.
- Cold sago/tapioca mixed with natural yoghurt and sliced fruit. Freeze overnight so it can be taken in a lunchbox.
- Frozen bananas with a passionfruit yoghurt dip.
- Homemade ice-blocks filled with a mix of natural yoghurt blended with fruit pulp.
- Mini pizzas (using mini pocket breads) with avocado, ham, tomato, pineapple etc.
- Wholemeal crumpet topped with a little butter.