12 Healthy Snack Ideas For Picky Kids
You know how important it is for your child to get essential nutrients from their diet, so they can grow up healthy and strong. However, every time you try to feed your little one fruits or vegetables they refuse to eat them. Some nights you find yourself making multiple meals just to please your picky eater. What are you supposed to do when your kid only wants to eat the same three things, over and over?
A picky eater can certainly be frustrating, but the best way to coax your kid out of it is to recognize that the process will be slow and will require a lot of trial and error. Luckily, you are not alone in the process. We have put together a list of 12 healthy snacks that your picky eater may take a liking to, as well as additional tips for improving your child’s healthy eating habits.
If your child truly cannot get the nutrients they need from the foods they are willing to eat, talk to their pediatrician about adding a multivitamin/dietary supplement to their daily intake.
12 Healthy Snacks for Picky Eaters
The following snacks are all healthy options that your picky eater may enjoy. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your little one will be enthusiastic about every single food on this list!
However, if you can gather just a few new healthy snacks for your child they'll be happy to find in their lunchbox, consider it a win! All of these snacks are quick and simple to prepare, and are full of flavor and vital nutrients.
1. Veggie Chips
You may be wary of giving your kids chips as a so-called “healthy” snack, but baked veggie chips are healthy, readily available in stores, affordable, and, best of all, really tasty! Your little one will think they are eating regular chips -- in fact, if you hide the bag, they probably will never notice that they are really eating vegetables.
Don’t confuse these with veggie straws though, which are mostly empty calories and salt.
2. Crunchy Veggie Sticks
Veggie sticks, such as carrots, celery, and peppers, are colorful and nutrient-rich snacks. If your picky eater enjoys a crunchy texture, these veggies are the way to go. Add a healthy dip, such as hummus, for extra taste.
3. Sweet Potato Fries
If your little one enjoys french fries, see how they like similarly-textured sweet potato fries. Picky eaters are more inclined to try foods that are familiar to them, so sweet potato fries are a perfect, healthier alternative to french fries.
Sure, green-colored beans are usually not any kid’s favorite food, picky or not. However, your kid may enjoy the process of popping the edamame out of their shells. The more involvement, the better! Soybeans are high in protein, fiber, and many nutrients, so they offer many benefits to your little one’s health.
5. Protein Cookies
Need to add more protein to your kid’s diet? Try these protein cookies, which look and taste just like regular chocolate chip cookies! The cookies contain protein powder, bananas, oats, peanut butter, and chocolate chips, for an end product that your picky eater will not be able to resist.
Yogurt is great for your child’s digestive health, and comes in lots of fun flavors! Mix in healthy granola and fresh fruit for added texture. Just be wary of the sugar content in whichever yogurt you choose to buy -- greek yogurt is usually best.
7. Ants on a Log
Ants on a log (celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins) is a common snack that combines multiple healthy ingredients. Your kid will enjoy the fun name and the crunch of the celery mixed with the creaminess of the peanut butter. Plus, these are super easy to prepare!
8. Fruit Leather
Did you know that you can make dried fruit leather at home, and all you need are strawberries? The process is shockingly simple. Follow this recipe for delicious-tasting fruit leather that will remind your picky eater of fruit roll-ups, without all the added sugar.
9. Fruit Kabobs
For whatever reason, fruit on a stick is a lot more exciting to children than fruit on a plate. Cut up any combination of your child’s favorite fruit and allow them to arrange the fruit on the kabobs in the order that they would like. Because your kid played a role in preparing the food, they will be more interested in eating it.
10. Rice Cakes and Nut Butter
Just like ants on a log, rice cakes and nut butter are the perfect combination of crispy and smooth textures. Add raisins on top of the nut butter in the shape of a smiley face to entertain your little one and get them more intrigued by the snack. Even better, most rice cakes are made with whole grains! Also, peanut butter is great but almond butter is another awesome alternative.
Popcorn is a healthy option for the kid who likes a salty snack. Try popping the popcorn on the stove top so you can control how much salt and oil is added to the kernels. Your child will enjoy the pop sounds and the crunchy texture.
Clementines are bursting with vitamin C, so do not let their fruit snack size fool you! It will be fun for your little one to get their hands dirty and peel the clementines apart before eating.
Some other easy honorable mentions include snack bars like granola bars, apple slices and nut butter, and even plain old applesauce or berry puree. Pretzels are also easy to integrate school snack foods, but do double check that you're getting the healthy-food version of pretzels and not the overly salty, high-carb kind often marketed as kids' snacks.
Tips For Feeding Picky Eaters
The above snacks are all excellent, healthy options for your picky eater, and hopefully your little one will be open to at least a couple of them. However, here are some more general tips for getting your kid eating better throughout the day, everyday.
- If your child is refusing to eat anything, the problem may be that they are too full. Try setting specific times during the day for snacking and sticking to this snack time schedule. The average kid needs to eat every couple of hours, and more routine in your little one’s day will benefit their eating habits. For now appetizers aren't really necessary for your kiddo.
- If your child knows that the food they are hoping for will be waiting for them if/when they refuse your original offer, they are always going to refuse -- it is the smart thing to do! Give your child more incentive to try new things by making any new food the main option, but include some component that you know your child likes so as to meet them in the middle.
- Introduce new foods gradually -- your child is not going to magically wake up one day and suddenly be ready to try anything and everything. It is a process! As mentioned above, with any new food that you introduce, try matching them with a food you know your little one already enjoys. Seeing the new food with a familiar food may make them more inclined to branch out.
- If your child says they do not want to try a certain food, ask them specifically what it is about the food that turns them off. Do they have some aversion to the color or smell? Does the texture not look appetizing to them? Whatever the case, listen to their thought process and act accordingly. Even adults have textures and smells that they try to avoid.
- Include your kids in the cooking/preparation process. If you are making a salad, for example, you can chop the veggies and then allow your child to add them to the bowl. When your child plays some role in making the food, they will likely be more interested in the end result.
- Get creative with your food -- maybe you can arrange fruit and/or veggies on the plate in the shape of your child’s favorite animal. At the end of the day, kids just want to have fun! Food that is laid out in the shape of a dinosaur is a lot more interesting to a child than a plate where the food has been unceremoniously spread.
- The more you make certain foods appear forbidden, the more intrigued in them your child is going to be. Allow your kid a treat every now and again, and do not expect them to try a new thing everyday. A little ice cream is just a part of childhood, and you can even make this healthy by going for 100% fruit juice popsicles. If they were open to a new food one day, reward them with a food they like the next day.
- Add a multivitamin to your kid’s diet, such as GoBiotix Probiotic Multivitamin, to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need, and that their digestive health is supported. Most kids need some type of vitamin supplementation, so talk to your pediatrician about your kid’s specific needs and how a multivitamin could help.
If your little one is a picky eater, especially when it comes to nutritious snacks, be patient with them and trust the process. The 12 snacks above are all healthy options that may be palatable to your kiddo while also providing them with essential nutrients.
Try getting creative with food and introducing a probiotic multivitamin to your kid’s diet to help your child get and absorb all the vitamins they need to grow up big and strong.