Healthy Snacks For Kids

If you’ve ever eaten a meal with a teenage boy (or any young child), you know how much kids can devour in one sitting. Nutrition plays a major part in your child’s growth and development. There are many food and snack choices out there – some good, some bad. So before you head to the snack aisle in the grocery store, take a look at this list to get some ideas to help keep your kids teeth healthy and clean.

Healthy Snacks

  1. Whole Wheat Bread: Most white bread has added sugars which can lead to an increased risk of developing cavities
  2. Fresh Vegetables (Carrots, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Celery): Stimulate the salivary glands to release saliva which helps protect the teeth
  3. Fresh Fruit: Fruit does have sugar, but it is also filled with fiber which also stimulates the salivary glands to release more saliva to protect your teeth.  Be careful with canned fruit which is soaked in sugary syrup!
  4. Plain Yogurt with Fruit: Most pre-mixed yogurt with fruit also has added sugars, so it’s better if you can add your own fresh fruit to plain yogurt
  5. Cottage Cheese with fresh fruit
  6. Cheese: Cheese is wonderful for your teeth because it contains calcium and phosphates which help strengthen your teeth and neutralize the acids created by the plaque in your mouth
  7. Nuts: Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and a good choice for your teeth.  Be careful with Peanut Butter though, which contains a lot of added sugars.
  8. Popcorn: Popcorn is a much healthier snack than potato chips or cheese puffs because it doesn’t have refined carbohydrates.  Be sure your child flosses after eating popcorn so the kernels don’t stick underneath the gum tissue which can lead to irritation and infection.
  9. Sugarfree Gum: Sugarfree gum helps promote salivary flow in your mouth which helps to wash away food, neutralizes acid in the mouth and helps repair any damaged teeth.  This is a good option if your child can not brush after a meal or snack and is mature enough to chew (and not swallow) a piece of gum.
  10. Sugarfree Candy: If your child likes blow-pops and tootsie rolls, it’s best to give them sugarfree candy so that they are not exposed to the high sugar content for 15-20 minutes at a time.

Everything in Moderation

We are realists, and realize kids won’t always CHOOSE to eat healthy. Part of our jobs as parents is to provide healthy options and encourage our children to make healthy choices. Balance the amount of junk food they eat with a healthy snack and you’ll start to notice a difference in their attitudes towards healthy food.

Kick It Up A Notch

If you have a little more time on your hands, and want to fix a healthy snack that’s fun for your kids, try these ideas from the American Dietetic Association. (25 Healthy Snacks, PDF Download)

Your Turn: What Works?

Do you have any tricks to get your kids to eat healthier snacks? What do they like?

(Photo credit)

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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