Turn Your Child Into a Smart Snacker

With a little encouragement, your kids will learn to love healthy snacks.

Children in particular often need snacks because their little tummies aren’t designed to take in a ton of food at mealtimes. In fact, snacking can be a way for you to ensure that your child is getting the nutrients that he or she needs.

Healthy Snacks: Keep Them Convenient

A key to encouraging healthy snacking habits is to make the right foods readily available to your child. Follow these tips to make your household healthy-snack central:

-Allow your child to help you choose healthy snacks at the grocery store.
-Have easy-to-eat fruits such as apples and bananas within view on the counter.
-Keep unhealthy options like chips and cookies on hard-to-reach shelves and tucked into the back  of cabinets. Or better yet, don’t bring them into the house at all!
-Put whole-grain crackers and other smart choices for children’s health on the shelves that your  child can reach.
-Prepare cut-up vegetables like carrots or celery sticks in advance for easy munching.

Healthy Snacks or Stealthy Snacks?

Some parents work around their children’s aversion to vegetables by sneaking them into more “fun” foods. This includes pureeing vegetables like broccoli or sweet potatoes and hiding them in muffins, breads or other foods children find easier to stomach. While this is a viable last resort for getting a child to eat the daily essentials, many pediatric dieticians encourage a more above-board approach, to set the best example for future decision-making.

“When I first heard about this technique, my response was it's better to serve vegetables outwardly. If you hide them your child will never want to eat them,” says Janet M. de Jesus, MS, RD, a nutrition education specialist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “But being a mom, my kid doesn’t eat all the vegetables I want her to. So while I have used the hiding technique, I also still serve a vegetable on my child’s plate at every lunch and dinner. Even if she doesn’t always eat it, I keep offering.”

So make sure you surround your child with healthy snacks, be patient if she rejects some choices, and keep trying. You’re bound to come up with some healthy choices she’ll love to snack on.