5 Healthy Snacks For Kids That Are So Good, They’ll Forget They’re Eating Healthy!

Finding healthy snacks that your kids will actually eat can seem daunting. With so many processed snack foods marketed directly to children, it’s easy to default to things like chips, cookies and fruit snacks. However, there are plenty of nutritious and delicious snack options that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. This beginner’s guide will give you ideas and tips for stocking your pantry with wholesome snacks for kids of all ages.

Why Healthy Snacks Matter

Healthy snacking is an important habit to establish early on. Snacks shouldn’t just fill kids up between meals, they should provide nutritional value as well. Some great reasons to make healthy snacks a priority include:

  • Promoting growth and development. When kids eat nutrient-rich foods, it ensures they get adequate vitamins, minerals and other nutrients their growing bodies need.
  • Maintaining energy levels. Healthy snacks provide energy between meals, helping kids stay focused and active.
  • Preventing overeating. Snacking on nutritious foods curbs hunger and decreases the chances kids will overeat at mealtimes.
  • Establishing healthy habits. Eating healthy snacks sets a positive example and helps shape food preferences and habits.
  • Supporting learning. Proper nutrition, including snacks, fuels the brain for learning.

By taking time to find healthy snack options now, you set your kids up with positive food habits for life.

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Ideal Healthy Snacks According to Age

Kids have different nutritional needs as they grow, so the best healthy snacks vary by age. Here are some ideal healthy snacks for kids of different ages:

Toddlers (1-3 years)

Toddlers grow rapidly and need snacks with protein, fiber and healthy fats. Good options include:

  • Diced or shredded cheese
  • Whole grain toast fingers or muffins
  • Cubed avocado
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Cooked vegetables like broccoli florets or carrot sticks
  • Cottage cheese
  • Scrambled egg
  • Pieces of soft fruit like banana, melon or pear
  • Yogurt

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

Preschoolers still need nutrient-dense snacks but can handle more texture and variety. Good choices include:

  • Nut or seed butter on crackers, bread or fruit
  • Whole grain cereal or granola
  • Fresh fruit like blueberries, strawberries and mango
  • Veggies with hummus or guacamole
  • String cheese
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Smoothies made with yogurt and fruit
  • Trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit

Elementary School (5-11 years)

Bigger appetites call for more substantial snacks. Focus on balance and variety by including:

  • Apple or banana with nut or seed butter
  • Whole wheat Fig Newtons
  • Popcorn
  • Quesadilla with cheese
  • Whole grain crackers with cheese
  • Greek yogurt parfait
  • Celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
  • Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
  • Oatmeal bars or granola bars
  • Fruit and nut bars like Kind bars

Tweens/Teens (12+ years)

Peer influence and busy schedules make healthy snacking a challenge but also very important for older kids. Make these nutritious snacks readily available:

  • Fresh fruits like grapes, berries and melon
  • Vegetables like cherry tomatoes, snap peas and mini peppers with hummus or ranch
  • Whole grain crackers with nut butter
  • Cottage cheese or yogurt
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Smoothies
  • Nutrition bars like Larabars, RxBARs or Clif Bars
  • Protein shakes or drinks
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit and unsalted nuts
  • Apple or banana with nut or seed butter
  • Quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich

Understanding appropriate snacks for your child’s age helps ensure their growing bodies and brains get the nutrition they need.

Healthy Snacks

General Tips for Healthy Snacking

In addition to choosing age-appropriate snacks, keep these healthy snacking tips in mind:

  • Read labels. Watch out for snacks high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Look for short ingredient lists without artificial additives.
  • Pair foods. Combine a carb like fruit or crackers with a protein like yogurt or nut butter for balanced nutrition.
  • Portion sizes. Keep portions reasonable and don’t let snacking turn into constant grazing.
  • Rethink the classics. Give classic kid snacks like trail mix and popcorn a healthy makeover by choosing healthier versions.
  • DIY snacks. Make your own snacks at home where you control the ingredients.
  • Satisfy cravings. Allow occasional treats in moderation to satisfy sweet or salty cravings.
  • Eat the rainbow. Choose snacks with a variety of colors like fruits and veggies to maximize nutrition.
  • Pack snacks to go. Keep healthy snacks portable in small bags or containers for on-the-go lifestyles.
  • Involve kids. Let kids help pick out and prepare snacks to get them excited about healthier options.

With a balance of nutritious ingredients, appropriate portions and variety, you can make healthy snacking work for your family.

Healthy Store-Bought Snack Options

Though homemade is often best, there are still many store-bought healthy snacks that offer decent nutrition for busy families. When shopping, look for these types of healthier packaged snacks:

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and veggie healthy snacks provide nutrients with minimal processing. Good options include:

  • Frozen fruit – mangos, berries, pineapple, etc.
  • Dried fruit – raisins, cranberries, apricots, apples, etc. Look for unsweetened varieties without added sugars.
  • Fruit cups – look for those packed in juice or light syrup.
  • Squeezable fruit pouches – make sure they don’t have added sweeteners.
  • Vegetable chips – options made from beets, green beans, etc. provide fiber and vitamins.


Dairy products provide protein and calcium. Choose unflavored varieties without a lot of added sugar.

  • Cheese sticks or slices – opt for real cheese without artificial colors or flavors.
  • Yogurt – look for unsweetened or low-sugar varieties.
  • Cottage cheese – choose full fat or reduced fat.
  • Kefir – offers probiotics.

Whole Grains

Look for whole grains as the first ingredient and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

  • Cereal or granola – choose low sugar varieties like unsweetened shredded wheat or plain Cheerios.
  • Crackers – opt for whole grain options with 3 grams fiber or more per serving.
  • Rice cakes or popcorn cakes – top with nut butter for protein.
  • Edamame – provides plant-based protein.


Protein fills kids up and provides lasting energy. Look for at least 5 grams per serving.

  • Nut or seed butter – check for nuts/seeds as the only ingredient.
  • Hummus – provides protein from chickpeas and healthy fat.
  • Yogurt-covered nuts/seeds
  • Nutrition bars – choose options with 5+ grams protein and natural ingredients.
  • Hard-boiled eggs

When choosing packaged snacks, read nutrition facts and ingredients lists to find the healthiest options for your family. Prioritize whole, unprocessed ingredients as much as possible.

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Family-Friendly Healthy Snack Recipes

One of the best ways to ensure healthy snacks are nutritious and free of unhealthy additives is to make them yourself. These homemade snacks are both delicious and healthy.

1. Banana Oat Muffins

Muffins make a handy on-the-go snack and freeze well. Ripe bananas and oats provide natural sweetness and fiber.


  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄4 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix mashed banana, egg, milk and coconut oil.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until combined.
  5. Divide batter between muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Tip: Swap in almond butter or cacao nibs for a nutrient boost.

2. Frozen Yogurt Bark

Frozen yogurt bark satisfies a sweet tooth with protein, calcium and probiotics. Customize with your favorite fruits.


  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup mixed berries, chopped


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, stir together yogurt, honey and vanilla.
  2. Spread onto prepared pan in a thin, even layer. Top with chopped berries.
  3. Freeze 2-3 hours until firm. Break into pieces to serve.

Tip: Swap in other add-ins like granola, coconut, nuts or mini chocolate chips.

3. Pizza English Muffins

Turn English muffins into quick mini pizzas kids can assemble themselves. Load them up with veggie toppings for a savory snack.


  • 4 whole wheat English muffins, split
  • 1⁄4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Desired toppings like diced bell pepper, mushrooms, pineapple, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread about 1 tbsp pizza sauce on each muffin half. Sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Add toppings of choice. Bake 8-10 minutes until cheese melts.

Tip: For banana pepper “pizzas”, substitute peanut butter for sauce and sliced banana for pepperoni.

4. Cookie Dough Energy Bites

These no-bake cookie dough bites satisfy sweet cravings with natural nutrient density.


  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1⁄2 cup nuts or seeds of choice
  • 1⁄4 cup nut or seed butter
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or water, if needed


  1. In a food processor, pulse dates until small pieces form.
  2. Add nuts, nut butter, chia seeds, vanilla and salt. Pulse again until a dough forms, adding milk or water if needed.
  3. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons and roll into balls.
  4. Chill 30 minutes before serving. Store refrigerated.

Tip: Roll in shredded coconut or cocoa powder for variety.

5. Cinnamon Butternut Squash Chips

These crispy roasted squash chips provide fiber, vitamins A and C, and plant-based protein.


  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1⁄4 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Slice off ends of squash and peel. Slice lengthwise into thin 1/8-inch pieces.
  3. Toss slices with coconut oil, cinnamon and salt on prepared pan. Bake 15 mins until crispy, flipping halfway.
  4. Let cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: Play around with spices like chili powder, cumin or curry powder.

With a variety of colors, textures and flavors, these homemade snacks will satisfy any kid’s craving for crunch, creaminess, or sweetness!

Tips for Picky Eaters

If your child is a particularly picky eater, getting them to try – let alone enjoy – healthy snacks can be frustrating. Here are some tips to help picky kids become more open to wholesome snacks:

  • Offer new foods alongside old favorites so they have something “safe” to fall back on as they get used to new flavors and textures.
  • Engage their other senses by talking about the colors and shapes of foods. Have them touch and smell new items.
  • Stick to the 10 tries rule – it can take 10 exposures to a new food before a child will accept it, so be patient!
  • Let them help prepare snacks, like pouring yogurt or spreading nut butter, so they feel ownership.
  • Start a snack garden together and let them grow foods to try like cherry tomatoes, snap peas or berries.
  • Make snacks fun by cutting fruit into shapes with cookie cutters or serving veggies with hummus “paint”.
  • Offer just small tastes and build up portion sizes gradually as they get accustomed to new snacks.
  • Be a role model and let your child see you enjoying healthy snacks. Your efforts will eventually pay off!

The key is exposing picky eaters to new healthy snacks consistently, creatively and patiently. With time, they will likely come around.

Healthy Snack Ideas by Age

If you’re still wondering where to start, refer back to this quick list of healthy snack ideas appropriate for kids of different ages:

Toddlers (1-3 years)

  • Diced mango or melon
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Cheese cubes
  • Pieces of avocado
  • Scrambled egg
  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Cheerios
  • Soft fruit pieces
  • Veggie sticks with guacamole

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

  • Apple slices with nut butter
  • Yogurt parfait with granola
  • Freeze-dried fruit pieces
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese
  • Hummus with pita or veggies
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Quesadilla with beans, corn, etc.
  • Smoothies in a popsicle mold

Elementary (5-11 years)

  • Celery with peanut butter and raisins
  • Cottage cheese and avocado toast
  • Nutritious muffins or bread
  • Frozen yogurt bark
  • Trail mix or granola bars
  • Fresh fruits like grapes, berries, mango
  • Popcorn with nutritional yeast
  • Roasted chickpeas

Tweens/Teens (12+ years)

  • Energy bites
  • Greek yogurt with chia seeds
  • Smoothies
  • Apple with sunflower seed butter
  • Carrots and guacamole
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Edamame hummus with pretzels or crackers
  • Nutrition bars like Kind or Larabar
  • Trail mix
  • Kale chips

With a variety of flavors, colors and textures, you’re sure to find healthy snacks even the pickiest eaters will gobble up. Remember to offer new foods patiently and engage their senses to make snacking an adventure!

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