Children age 1 to 4 need healthy snacks. It is a very important part of their diet. Healthy snacks give them energy and nutrients.
Give your child a snack between meals, 2 to 3 times a day.
Healthy snack options include fresh fruit, vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese or milk.
Try not to use foods high in fat, sugar or salt as a reward or to comfort your child. Find other ways to reward them such as stickers, playing a game or a hug.
Light snacks for between meals
When your child needs a light snack between meals, give them a healthy one.
Healthy snacks include:
- small pieces of fruit - chopped into safe sizes that your child can manage
- sliced cucumber sticks
- small pot (47g) of plain or natural yogurt
- breastfeed or a glass of milk
- sliced, hard‑boiled egg
- 1 to 2 crackers
- 1 to 2 breadsticks
- 1 plain rice cake (unsalted)
Limit raisins and other dried fruit
Limit dried fruit such as raisins and dried apricots to once a week. This is because dried fruit contains sugar and can lead to tooth decay.
Filling snacks for between meals
Some days your child may be more hungry than others. They will need filling, healthy snacks between meals.
Here are some ideas:
- 2 crackers and cheese
- half a bagel with lightly spread smooth peanut butter (with no added salt or sugar)
- 2 breadsticks with hummus
- small slice of fruit loaf
- slice of toast with mashed or chopped banana
- small bowl of breakfast cereal and milk
- half wholemeal scone with spread
- small bowl of homemade or ready-made soup
Limit treat snacks
Try not to give foods high in fat, sugar or salt as a reward or to comfort your child. These foods are not good for your child's health.
They spoil your child’s appetite for more nutritious food.
They can be linked to weight gain in children.
Sugary foods and drinks can harm your child’s teeth.
Foods high in fat, sugar or salt
These foods include:
- ice cream
If you decide to give your child these foods, just give them in tiny amounts and only once a week.
Examples of a tiny amount:
- 1 square of chocolate
- 3 crisps
- half a plain biscuit
- 3 soft sweets
How to avoid giving treat foods
limit buying unhealthy snack foods, so you do not have a stock
involve your children in making healthy snack choices
keep chopped fruit and vegetables in your fridge or a bowl of fruit on the table
offer vegetables, salad or fruit as the snack of choice
use other rewards instead of food treats, such as stickers or colouring pages
Ready-made bars - such as cereal and snack bars - aimed at this age group can often be high in sugar. It’s always best to choose unprocessed snacks. For example, vegetables, salad and fruit.