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Toddler-tempting healthy snacks

Snacking keeps your child's metabolism going throughout the day. But getting a healthy choice out of a toddler can be tough. Here are some delicious tips that can keep you both happy.
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I hate being the food police in my house. Now that my toddler has an opinion about food, the snacking battle had begun. I offer apple slices, he wants potato chips. I suggest water, he wants juice. I make a yummy mix of almonds, raisins and cranberries and he wants to eat Chex mix. It is exhausting!

According to registered dietitian Jennifer Haas, M.S., R.D. of Nova Medical & Urgent Care Center, Inc. — the largest primary care practice in Loudoun County, Virginia — snacking is essential to keep your child's metabolism going throughout the day. This will make sure your child's body is continually burning calories, which is an important component of weight management.

"If your child gets hungry, let him or her eat! Teach them to listen to their bodies. In doing so, you should also be teaching them portion control. As a parent, you are one of the biggest influences on your child's eating behaviors," says Ms. Haas, who notes that what kids learn in childhood and what they see their parents do will ultimately carry over into their adult lives. "By teaching them healthy snacking now, you can give them the tools to make smart decisions when it comes to their nutrition later in life."

Ms. Hass offers these suggestions for healthy snacks:

  • Instead of kiddie crackers try giving them cheese cubes and whole wheat crackers.
  • Instead of chips give them microwave popcorn (without the butter) or tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip.
  • Instead of fruit snacks try a frozen fruit bar.
  • Instead of sugary fruit drinks give them a nutritious fruit smoothie.
  • Instead of sugary cereals try whole wheat cinnamon toast or a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter.
  • Instead of snack bars give the kids a small bowl of trail mix (watch the portion).
  • Instead of ice cream try low-fat vanilla yogurt with honey, fruit and/or granola.

Other great, healthy kids' snacks include:

  • Apple slices with cinnamon or peanut butter
  • Fresh veggies, like carrots or cherry tomatoes, with low-fat ranch dressing
  • String cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Mini pizzas
  • Mini sandwiches, like ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly

Ms. Haas also notes to always ask the child what she wants. If it's an item that's not completely healthy, teach your child portion control and pair the unhealthy item with a healthy one. For example, if your child wants ice cream, give her a smaller portion and pair it with fresh fruit. In addition, including the child in food preparation will make her interested in what she is eating — ultimately teaching her to choose healthier foods. Also be sure to pack snacks if you are going to be out all day. This way, you or your child won't be tempted to stop and get something high-calorie and high in fat.

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 40reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I love all the wonderful snack ideas in this article. I offer my son two healthy snack options. This way, he can pick which healthy snack he would like to eat. He feels independent, in charge and most importantly he is making a healthy choice either way. It makes me feel great to encourage him to eat plenty of fruits, veggies, cheeses & whole grains. This is a Win - Win strategy! June 13, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I have had to battle the sugars with my daughter, but we both love apples and peanut butter. I am glad for some new ideas after reading this article though like string cheese and small sandwiches. She is always so hungry, but I try to make her pick apples over chips. April 24, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by The must article for new mom to read. I remeber after my 3 yes, 3rd just had 4th. I really enjoyed walking around our neighborhood, fresh air for baby new things to look at, and mommy got some much needed air, new surroundings, and exercise to boot. April 9, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I feel that it is important to give your children the gift of healthy eating habits; however, I believe that most babies have a bad start with the formula use as opposed to breast milk. It is more convenient in certain aspects, but I feel that toddlers also can become victims of the consumer driven junk food makers of today. Packaging and brand names can be misleading and if a person does not actually take the time to read up on nutrition they can truly feed their kids straight junk and not even realize that they are doing it. I feel that the article was a little vague and misleading. It is important to find healthy choices but saying things like give your kid fruit bars as opposed to fruit snacks or that string cheese is a good snack can be bad information. Parents must read labels thoroughly and ingredients. It is always going to be my opinion that the fewer ingredients the better even if sugar is one of them. At least I know what sugar is and today there are so many chemicals, dyes and additives in packaged foods that it can be scary. Granola was another suggestion, but I believe that there are not too many premade varieties that are really good for us. I think that Good eating habits and choices was the message offered in the article and that is a definite good message, I just wish that the suggestions were a little better. Popcorn does not offer much in the way of nutrition and it is not real filling. what about peanut butter on apples or fruit period? whole wheat tortillas with real cheese make great snacks and are not messy, or even peanut butter and banana in a tortilla. great on the go to. Plus most fast food fare has offerings for snacking that has come a long way. It is important to have vitamins and proteins and minerals as well as be lower in calories and fats. I feel that proper education and less packaging makes better choices just easier. January 13, 2014
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