So how can we ensure that we are getting the most from our children’s snacks? Seemingly ‘Healthy’ snacks marketed at children have been shown to contain sugars, for example when fruit is juiced and some snacks labelled as containing one portion of fruit or veg do not live up to the claim. Sugary snacks hold little or no nutritional value. Healthy snacks for kids can be prepared quickly, and they will be much better for them than anything you can purchase in a shop.
If you prepare your food as freshly as possible, you will know exactly how much sugar (and salt) your child is consuming. For example, home made ice lollies are much healthier (and a more fun!) alternative to pre made ones. That’s why I have always felt aligned with Annabel Karmel’s recipes and books and used and continue to use them for my own children, her key principles focus around using fresh produce and being easy to prepare and nutritious.
Preparing healthy snacks for kids doesn’t have to be overcomplicated and time consuming. If you ensure you have all the staples for the week and have some combinations in mind you can easily pop something together.
From the dental perspective, we advise no more than 4-5 sugar intakes per day. This includes snacking and drinks (but excludes milk feeds and water). And each meal time and snack counts as one sugar intake, so when breakfast time, lunch time and an evening meal times are excluded, this leaves two snacks per day as a maximum.
Some families will have four ‘meals’ a day and avoid the snacking, other families stick to traditional three meals a day, and allow snacking in between. Desserts should be served at mealtimes to restrict the sugar intakes.
The recommended maximum daily allowances are 5 cubes of sugar for 4-6 year olds, 6 cubes for 7-10 year olds and 7 cubes for 11 years and over (one cube of sugar is approximately 4g of sugar). There is presently no official maximum intake for sugar consumption for under 4s but food and drink with natural and added sugars should be restricted as much as possible. On some recipes, I personally opt to leave out adding honey, fruit juices and sugar when possible.
See also our recipe filter for healthy snacks for kids and toddlers