Snack ideas for kids

Key points about snack ideas for kids

  • As well as their main meals, children need small snacks to keep them going during the day.
  • Ideal snacks are those that provide the right balance of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and dietary fats.
  • Snacks should not replace their main meal.


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Snacks help kids keep their energy up throughout the day, but should not replace their main meal.

Children need a gap of at least 1 hour without eating to make sure they're hungry for their next meal. To help your child have a good appetite at mealtimes try not to offer snacks right before their main meals.

When preparing snacks for children, try to include a range of foods from the following 4 groups:

  • vegetables and fruit
  • grain foods (bread, cereals, rice, noodles, pasta)
  • milk and milk products
  • lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Healthy food selection on a wooden board

Image credit: Canva

As a general rule, the less processed a food is the better. Watch out for added sugar, salt and fat when buying packaged foods. Read more about understanding food labels.

Here are some great snack ideas for kids

  • Vegetable sticks – keep sealed in your fridge. Try cottage cheese or hummus as a dip.
  • Cold cooked vegetable leftovers – try making a few extra potatoes, kūmara and taro at lunch or dinner.
  • Fresh fruit – eat whole or slice up and have in cereal, smoothies, or with unsweetened yoghurt.
  • Frozen fruit – try chopped up oranges, grapes, nectarines or peaches as a snack or blend frozen bananas to make a healthier version of ice cream.
  • Sandwiches – cold meat or cheese and salad filling (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado), banana, egg, peanut butter, marmite and cheese, cottage cheese / hummus and tomato.
  • Instead of plain bread you can get creative and try rice cakes, bread rolls, pita bread, crackers, crumpets, and add toppings like tomato, avocado, cheese or tuna.
  • Grilled cheese or baked beans on toast.
  • Toasted English muffins, fruit bread, wholemeal cheese scones, savoury muffins.
  • Cereals – select cereals with reduced fat and sugar.
  • Plain popcorn – avoid adding too much salt, sugar or butter and never offer popcorn to children less than 3 years of age.
  • Pikelets topped with banana & fresh strawberries or a thin scrape of jam.
  • Cheese with plain crackers.
  • Smoothies – try banana, blueberry & plain yoghurt or milk.
  • Unsweetened yoghurt – mix in fresh fruit to add flavour.
  • Cheese and gherkins.
  • Boiled egg.
  • Birds breakfast – mix of toasted seeds and nuts – avoid giving whole nuts to children under 5 due to the risk of choking.
  • Sliced ham or other cold cuts (keep refrigerated).

Visit Fuelled4life(external link) for healthy recipes and snack ideas for children and young people.

3 kids eating snacks from plastic container

Image credit: Canva

  • Dried fruit or fruit 'nuggets' – these sticky treats coat the teeth in sugar, making them prone to decay. If eating these, always give a piece of cheese afterwards to help remove the fruit from the teeth and follow up with a glass of water.
  • Any processed snack that is high in sugar, fat and/or salt – ie, chippies, flavoured crackers, doughnuts and some muesli bars.
  • Shop bought fruit smoothies or milk shakes – these tend to be high in sugar. Make your own at home using milk, unsweetened yoghurt and fresh fruit. 
  • Fruit juice – juice can contain a similar amount of sugar per 100ml as a fizzy drink! If you want to give your child juice, dilute it first 1 part juice to 10 parts water. Using a straw will also help stop the sugar coating the teeth. 
  • Fizzy drinks have a lot of sugar and should be avoided. Even diet soft drinks are acidic and can erode the teeth.


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Kids in the kitchen

Heart Foundation, NZ, 2015

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Supporting young children to eat well

Health Promotion Agency, NZ, 2021

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Auckland District Health Board Dietitians

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