Healthy Snacks for Children

Healthy snacks satisfy a child’s hunger and provide an energy boost between mealtimes. Snacks add additional nutrients to your child’s diet to support their growth and development and fuel their body and brain. Learning to eat and enjoy healthy snacks is part of developing healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

See below for some quick and healthy snack ideas for your child.  Those with an asterisk* are choking hazards for children under 4 years of age.

Fresh fruit
  • Sliced: apples, bananas, pears
  • Pitted and sliced: cherries, plums, peaches, nectarines
  • Peeled and sectioned: oranges, tangerines, grapefruits
  • Cut in half: strawberries, grapes*
  • Cut in pieces: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, figs, kiwifruit, mango, papaya, pineapple
  • Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
Person cutting apples
Dried fruit
  • Cut up for small children: apples, apricots, pears
  • Pitted: dates, prunes
  • Raisins, cranberries
Vegetables
  • Sliced: cucumbers
  • Cut in strips or sticks: carrots*, celery*, bell peppers
  • Cut in half: cherry tomatoes
  • Broccoli or cauliflower (raw or steamed)
  • Peas or corn (fresh or frozen)
  • Mashed, sliced, or in chunks: avocado

Peas in the pod with baby's hands

Dairy products
  • Cheese slices
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt (low-fat, low sugar)
Proteins
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters, spread thinly on whole-grain crackers or bread
  • Nuts* (only for older children)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fish: canned light tuna, salmon, sardines
  • Edamame beans
  • Hummus
  • Tofu cubes
Bread and cereals
  • Whole-wheat bread
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Whole grain tortillas
  • Whole grain dried cereals
  • Whole grain bagels or pita
  • Rice cakes or rice crackers
Beverages
  • Water
  • Milk
  • 100% fruit juice

Child drinking a glass of milk

Tips
  • Make up a healthy snack list so your child has a choice in picking what they want!
  • Go food shopping together.
  • Try fresh over canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Prep vegetables and fruit ahead of time by washing, cutting and storing in individual containers for easy access.
  • Avoid foods that may cause choking for younger children under four years of age like popcorn, raw carrots and celery, nuts, seeds, whole grapes or large chunks of any food.
  • Eat snacks in the kitchen or dining area to avoid television and screen time distractions.
Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics (2020) How to Get your Child to Eat More Fruits & Vegetables at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Get-Your-Child-to-Eat-More-Fruits-and-Veggies.aspx

Mayo Clinic (2020) Healthy Snacks for Kids: 10 Child-Friendly Tips at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/childrens-health/art-20044350 

United States Department of Agriculture (2018) Nibbles for Health: Nutrition Newsletters for Parents of Young Children at https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/nibbles

This tip sheet was made possible with funding from the UCSF Chancellor's Fund.

Parents