I’ve spent a lot of time explaining my opinion on nutrition after I had my first daughter.
People have a lot of opinions about all aspects of how you parent your child, but nutrition can really set people off.
Why? Personally I think it’s because feeding your child as healthy as possible is actually really difficult in the world we live in today. Everything is essentially set up for the opposite.
Most food that’s designed and marketed for kids falls into the same few categories of chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. Same goes for any kid menu at a restaurant.
Even if you keep your kid on a healthy track for the first year of their food eating life, once they start to look around and realize what everyone else is eating, it gets that much harder.
We first realized this at family gatherings.
Our daughter saw the other kids eating pasta and desserts, and she wanted to too.
As our first daughter gets older we are having to adjust expectations (unfortunately) because I don’t want her to be completely left out. I also don’t want to be so strict about food that it causes a problem down the line.
Since our second daughter was born we have also been more relaxed about food, because well, we just don’t have the same amount of time. But that doesn’t mean we abandon healthy. In fact, we love coming up with new healthy snack ideas for kids. It’s kind of a fun game now!
We’ve compiled some of our best tips for healthy eating with kids, and the best healthy snack ideas for kids below.
Tips for Healthy Eating & Kids
A lot of what we’ve done has been trial and error, but we’ve tried to follow a few guidelines along the way.
Finding great healthy snacks for kids is an important part of the equation, but it’s not your foundation for success.
Like I said, these probably started out the most strict with our first daughter, and then have grown more relaxed with our second. But they still hold pretty true.
Our Kids Eating Guidelines
Used Baby Led Weaning
We started babies directly with whole foods using the baby led weaning method around 5.5-6 months when they were developmentally ready.
Skipped Rice & Baby Cereals
We skipped rice and baby cereals because I didn’t want the first thing that my baby’s body learned to digest being a processed carb.
Had Only Whole Foods for the 1st Year. We only fed my daughter whole foods for the first year of her life. That means no processed anything. It was all veggies, fruits, meats, and some dairy too.
Low Sugar Foods
Sugar is one of the first things I look at when I do purchase a processed food item. Yogurt is probably the biggest offender. All of yogurts have a ton of sugar, and about 90% of them I would never feed my child. The best option we have found as of yet is siggi’s 4% whole-milk yogurt, which sadly still has 8 grams of sugar. Finding great low sugar options is especially important when you’re buying health snack ideas for kids.
No Low Fat or Skim Products
Low fat and skim products (think low fat cheese or skim milk) are basically a marketing ploy to tell you there are fewer calories. Unfortunately the calories are replaced with sugar and chemicals, making the product super unhealthy. We have always stuck with full fat and whole milk options.
Sweets in Moderation
Our daughter gets dessert at family gatherings and also gets the occasional treat at home, but we typically don’t stock our home with sweets, so we mostly avoid the topic. We do not promote the idea that you get some kind of a dessert or treat with every meal.
Organic When Possible
Our daughter probably at 95% organic for the first year or her life. Now, it’s probably more like 85%-90%. We basically always choose organic IF it’s an option. Believe it or not, there are a lot of organic healthy snack ideas for kids.
Home Packed Lunches
Our daughters go to a daycare/school program a few days a week and we pack all of their food and beverages besides water. At most places the nutrition served to kids is atrocious, and my worry has always been if they start eating french toast sticks and chicken nuggets there, they will come home and demand the same thing here. We use this Omie Bento Lunch Box and love it.
We never negotiate with our daughter about food. Once you head down the “have two more bites of this and you get this…” track you never come back. We want her to be in control of her food experience and make it a positive thing. We put healthy options on her plate and if she doesn’t eat a ton one day, we trust her to judge how she feels.
We try to live by the rule that if we make the best choices we can most of the time it will be OK. You can drive yourself crazy with this nutrition topic, but that would be unhealthy too.
Whew. There are probably a lot of guidelines and suggestions I could add, but that’s a lot to get started.
If your kids are already past a lot of those stages then don’t worry about it. You can still try and incorporate healthier food options in their life.
The biggest impact you can have on your kids is modeling. You should develop whatever new eating habits you’re planning as whole house and whole family.
It wouldn’t be fair to ask your kids to avoid processed foods if you’re snacking on a bunch of crap right in front of them.
Health Snack Ideas for Kids
Now, onto the good stuff! Believe it or not there are a ton of healthy snack ideas for kids that are easy to have on hand, and they will love.
It’s all about trial and error, finding what they like, and creating new habits.
One last note, take the word “healthy” with a grain of salt. Some options are healthier than others, and everything should be consumed in moderation.
Having your child eat only raisins every day of their life wouldn’t end up being THAT healthy because they still have a lot of sugar, but it’s a better snack option than let’s say, candy. Catch our drift?
Here are some of the top healthy snack ideas for kids at our house.
40 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Apple with slices of cheese
- String cheese
- Dried or dehydrated fruit
- Trail Mix
- Hummus with veggies
- Grapes (don’t forget to slice first for young kids)
- Cheese slices
- Homemade fruit popsicles
- Celery, peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log)
- Dehydrated fruit bars (SunRype brand has no added sugar)
- Whole milk low sugar yogurt
- Lunch meat (turkey is a favorite at our house)
- Hard boiled egg
- Sunflower seeds
- Raw veggies (try cutting them into fun shapes with a crinkle cutter)
- Veggies Stix
- Lunch meat & cheese rollups
- Kale Chips
- Orange slices
- Frozen grapes
- Homemade yogurt melts
- Nut crackers
Sure we could probably like 40 more healthy snack ideas for kids, but this list is a pretty great start.
Have more great snack ideas you’d love to share? Comment right here on the post and tell us so we can add them to the list!