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Nutritious Snacks for Pre-school Children

Young children have small appetites and commonly eat four to six times a day. Healthy snacks are important, as they provide a sizable amount of nutrients to the toddler or pre-school child’s diet. “Empty calories" or “junk foods" (like sweet desserts, soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sugar-coated cereals, chips, or candy) should be limited because they do not give your child’s body the nutrients needed for growth.

Listed below are some examples of healthy snack choices for your child. Remember, you can also help promote good nutrition by setting a good example. Foods which are hard, round, and do not dissolve easily can cause choking. These types of foods should not be given to children less than three years of age.

Snack ideas:

  • Small sandwiches (egg salad, tuna, bologna, cheese, peanut butter, chicken salad, ham, etc.)
  • Hard cooked or deviled eggs
  • Cheese toast
  • String or sliced cheese
  • Peanut butter and jelly on crackers, thinly spread
  • Graham crackers with cream cheese
  • Granola bars (Toddlers can choke easily on nuts, so be careful of bars which contain them.)
  • Pretzels or whole grain crackers
  • Cereal with milk
  • Pudding or custard
  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Banana or peeled apple slices with thinly spread peanut butter
  • Fresh fruit, frozen juice pops or fruit juice unsweetened (Limit fruit juice to 4-6 ounces a day)
  • Raw vegetables with ranch dressing (Thinly slice vegetables to reduce risk of choking.)

Foods to avoid/high risk for choking:

  • Hot dogs
  • Hard, sticky candy
  • Nuts
  • Grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Jelly beans
  • Hard, raw fruits and vegetables
  • Peanut butter (chunky or spread thickly)
  • Peanuts
  • Chewing gum

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 08/2011