Back to School Snacks

Snacking 101

Every parent who has ever left the house without extra snacks has learned just how important those between meal calories are to kids. A hungry toddler will reach meltdown mode in less than 10 minutes, guaranteed. What you might not know though, is exactly how much or how often your kids should be snacking, so in partnership with Horizon®, I’ve made an easy outline for you.

Toddlers and preschoolers need to eat three meals and two to three snacks per day. Because kids this age don’t eat a huge amount of food at mealtime, snacks can contribute significantly to overall nutrition.

School-age kids also need three meals each day, and depending on their after school activities and when lunch is served, they need one to two snacks a day. Making sure that bigger kids aren’t running on empty will help keep them going through their ever-busy days. And, if they come home after school, create a section of the cupboard or fridge they can access that is stocked with nutritious snacks they can help themselves to. It’s less work for you and it promotes independence!

Snacks should be offered about two hours after a meal, and at least an hour before the next meal is scheduled. As with adults, snacks should be served in an appropriate portion size. For example, offer crackers to your child in a snack cup instead of handing them the whole box or bag. If they’re still hungry, you can always give them a little bit more.

Make Snacks Count

Fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean protein and whole grains should be the building blocks of your kid’s snacks. They help provide the calories and nutrients that little bodies and brains need to grow. Here are some nutritious snack ideas:

· ½ cup sliced strawberries plus a cheese stick or cheese slice

· 4 ounces of milk and ¾ cup whole grain cereal

· ½ cup baby carrots (for kids big enough to chew them) plus ¼ cup hummus
· 1 mini pita bread plus 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (or nut-free sunflower butter)
· ½ banana sliced up over 4 ounces of yogurt

I always keep an assortment of shelf stable snacks in my purse and diaper bag so that I’m never stuck when my kids have a snack attack. It’s not always easy or convenient to find nutritious, kid-friendly treats, especially on a New York City subway! I like to portion out small crackers, like Horizon’s Organic Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, and keep them in airtight containers or zip-top bags so they’re ready to go. We find that it’s always smart to keep a couple Horizon Organic milk boxes in the tote bag that we take to the playground and play dates. As with most things in life, the more prepared you are, the better! And a kid with a full belly is generally a much nicer kid to be around.

Horizon and Horizon Organic are registered trademarks of WhiteWave Foods

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