How to choose a healthy snack for kids

Making your own snacks can be a healthier and cheaper alternative to shop-bought versions – learn about the NHS guidelines for kids and try our easy recipes.

Three lunchboxes with snacks in

Advice from the NHS to limit children’s shop-bought snacks to a maximum of two a day, each under 100 calories, is designed to make our lives easier – helping parents to make quick, healthier decisions when buying food at the supermarket.

To ensure a balanced diet, it’s important to choose healthy snacks for kids. Figures from Public Health England show that the average primary school child could be consuming a whopping three times more added sugar than recommended daily limits, with the average child eating at least three sugar-laden items a day – often in the form of snacks or sugary drinks. In response, the NHS’s Change4Life campaign encourages parents to make healthier choices when out and about, or doing the weekly shop.

The Change4Life food scanner app is another useful resource which shows parents how much sugar, salt and saturated fat is in a packaged product.


What about homemade snacks?

The current advice relates to shop-bought snacks only – this means that homemade snacks for kids are excluded from the two a day, 100 calorie limit. This is because making your own recipe puts you in control of the ingredients and therefore they are likely to be lower in sugar, salt, saturated fat and additives. It's worth remembering that fruit and vegetables are not limited and are always the best choice for childrens in-between meals.

5 easy homemade snacks for kids

1. Fruity sundae

Fruit sundae with bluberries

This pot of yogurt swirled with mashed strawberries and topped with mixed berries packs a punch for presentation and nutrition. Pack in Tupperware or a recycled screw-top jar and you’ll be cutting down on plastic waste, too. (8g sugars)

Fruity sundae


2. Sweet potato crisps

Sweet potato crisps with tomatoes and lettuce in a lunchbox

With just two ingredients – a sweet potato and olive oil – these baked crisps couldn’t be simpler. Why spend money on processed packets of crisps when you can make your own in half an hour? (6g sugars)

Sweet potato crisps


3. Rainbow fruit skewers

Multicolour fruit skewers in a rainbow formation on blue chopping board

Full of colour and nothing but fresh fruit, these vitamin-packed skewers lend lunchboxes a bit of rainbow cheer. Kids like helping assemble them, and you can vary the colours and fruit varieties. (12g sugars)

Rainbow fruit skewers
 

4. Cheese wheatmeal biscuits

Cheese biscuits cut into different shapes

Our quick-cook biscuits combine wholemeal flour with oatmeal and cheddar for a savoury bite, perfect for lunchboxes. Cut into your kids’ favourite shapes or just roll into balls and flatten. (0.2g sugars)

Cheese wheatmeal biscuits


5. Choco-dipped tangerines

Tangerines half dipped in chocolate in a lunchbox

We all crave chocolate sometimes and presenting it as a tempting shell for something fruity is a great way to satisfy the tastebuds. Perfect for kids and adults. (12g sugars)

Choco-dipped tangerines


Discover more ideas for children’s snacks

After school snacks for kids
Healthy food kids will love
Top 5 healthy snacks for kids
Our best snacks for kids recipes


Or try these healthy eating guides:

How much sugar should children have?
Top sugar swaps for your family
Healthy eating: what schoolchildren need
Top 5 vegetables your child should eat


This article was last reviewed on 10 January 2020 by Kerry Torrens.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact  your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

What are your kids' favourite snacks? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

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MHWHallgren
6th Jan, 2018
For an after school snack when the Girls were little (elementary and middle school age), I would cut up fresh broccoli florets, add baby carrots and cut up celery sticks, and serve the veggies with low-fat ranch dressing or plain yogurt mixed with Knorr soup mix (strain out the freeze dried pieces) for dipping, along with seedless grapes. The other kids on the street would often join the Girls for "Homework Snack," which I would serve outside in the fresh air whenever possible. The veggies & dip and grapes were a crowd pleaser, and disappeared fast!
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EVELYN CHEN's picture
EVELYN CHEN
19th May, 2020
I am a young cook who enjoys making new recipes and mixing new ingredients together to get a delicious solution. A tip for mothers out there: when it is summer, a healthy snack for kids is a juice sucker. Make some fruit juice, pour into a popsicle molder, and wait a night for it to freeze.
Louis Lévesque's picture
Louis Lévesque
6th Jan, 2018
Those recipes are kind of a total joke, just cut celery and carrots, and pulse some homemade hummus. Better and easier than any of those.