After-School Snacksenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/P-afterSchoolSnack-enHD-AR1.jpgIf your kids come in from school and head straight for the kitchen for something to eat, here's how to make sure they still have room for a healthy dinner.after school snacks, snacking, latchkey, eating after school, snacking10/07/200511/16/201711/16/2017Mary L. Gavin, MD07/14/2015a3ef407e-1718-454f-a25b-7202873a239fhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/afterschool-snacks.html/<p>Do your kids come in from school and make a beeline&nbsp;to the kitchen looking for something to eat? If so, how can you can make sure they enjoy a snack while still saving room for a healthy dinner?</p> <p>Kids need less frequent snacks as they get older, but&nbsp;it's not surprising that most are hungry after school. Many kids eat lunch early &mdash; 11:30 or even before &mdash; and then have an afternoon of classes and maybe even an after-school activity before their next chance to eat.</p> <p>Depending on a child's age and after-school routine, parents might not always be able to control what their kids eat&nbsp;in the late afternoon. But don't throw in the towel just yet. These steps can guide kids to good after-school snacks that will be satisfying and still leave room for a nutritious dinner.</p> <h3>Figure Out the Timing</h3> <p>Put yourself in your kids' shoes and consider their eating schedules on a normal weekday. Some younger kids may have a mid-morning snack, but most older school-age kids won't. Find out: When is lunchtime? What and how much do they eat at lunch? Do they ever skip lunch? Does the after-school program serve snacks? This will help you figure out how hungry your kids will be when they get home.</p> <p>You'll also want to think about what time you normally serve dinner. A child who gets home famished at 3:15 and eats a large snack probably won't be hungry if dinner is at 5:30. Likewise, it may not reasonable to expect a child whose parents work late to go until 7:30 with nothing to eat since lunch. Think about your kids' schedules and plan accordingly.</p> <h3>Create a List of Healthy Options</h3> <p>Next, talk about which snacks your kids would like to have at snack time. Come up with a list of healthy options together and be sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. While a slice of cake or some potato chips shouldn't be forbidden foods, such low-nutrient snacks shouldn't be on the everyday after-school menu.</p> <p>If you can, take your kids along to the grocery store and spend some time reading the <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/food-labels.html/">nutrition facts labels</a> and comparing products. Pay attention to the amounts of protein, fiber, calcium, and other important nutrients, and don't miss the chance to talk about portion sizes. Together, choose snacks that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Being involved in the process makes it more likely that kids will learn to make healthy food choices.</p> <h3>Make Healthy Snacks an Easy Choice</h3> <p>Don't expect kids &mdash; even teens &mdash; to cut up their own veggie sticks. It's just too much bother, especially when they're hungry. Kids are more likely to eat what's handy. That's where you come in. Make healthy snacks easily available by packing them in their lunchboxes or backpacks or by having them visible and ready-to-eat at home.</p> <p>If you're at home after school, your youngster might enjoy helping you make a creative snack like ants on a log (celery topped with peanut butter and raisin "ants"), egg boats (hard-boiled egg wedges topped with a cheese sail), or fruit kabobs. Older kids may enjoy a fruit smoothie, mini-pitas with hummus dip, or whole-grain crackers topped with cheese and pear slices.</p> <p>Older kids often like making their own snacks, so provide the ingredients and a few simple instructions. If dinner is just around the corner, consider allowing a "first course," such as a small salad or side vegetable while you finish preparing the family meal.</p> <p>For those nights when dinner is hours away, you could offer a more substantial snack such as half a sandwich or a quesadilla made with a whole-wheat tortilla and&nbsp;low-fat cheese warmed in the microwave and topped with salsa. Nothing too complicated, though. A good snack should take more time to eat than it does to prepare!</p> <p>If your child goes to an after-school program or to a caregiver's house, find out if snacks are served. If so, what's typically offered? If you don't like what you hear, suggest alternatives or just pack an extra snack your child can eat after school. Easy-to-pack snack options include trail mix, nuts, low-sugar whole-grain cereal, whole-grain pretzels or crackers, fresh or dried fruit, and cut-up vegetables.</p> <p>What if your child comes home to an empty house? Again, the best strategy is to leave something healthy front and center on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator. A hungry child, like a hungry adult, is likely to take the path of least resistance.</p>
Food LabelsLook at any packaged food and you'll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/food-labels.html/9fd21fc8-7da9-499f-a517-dcacb9624e24
Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Kid's Guide to Eating RightWant to eat healthier? It's easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods!https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/go-slow-whoa.html/4c5268e5-9901-4987-a37b-5c919be1fb2b
Healthy EatingGood nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/habits.html/429ff6f2-05a1-4593-a32b-4c6e4837e415
Kids and Food: 10 Tips for ParentsHere are 10 simple tips to help you raise kids who develop healthy eating habits!https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/eating-tips.html/836e3bc3-3569-4c35-acdf-8d39c3251221
School LunchesPacking school lunches are a chance to steer kids toward good nutrition. Here are ideas for some fun and easy lunchbox options.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/lunch.html/f6affa84-3737-4713-bbfe-fe3d82955cf8
Smart SnackingHealthy snacks are essential for busy teens. Find out how eating nutritious snacks throughout the day can keep your energy level high and your mind alert.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/healthy-snacks.html/4899853f-928b-4117-a85f-60da42dd3df6
Smart Supermarket ShoppingYou don't need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/teens/grocery-shopping.html/5414ea2a-c37a-42da-9254-35a48f72817f
SnacksIf the right foods are offered at the right times, snacks can play an important role in managing kids' hunger and boosting nutrition.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/snacking.html/8cbc8b72-a389-4c19-9766-8055a94bbbb7
Snacks for PreschoolersHealthy and well-timed snacks can help fill in nutritional gaps for preschoolers. But how do you turn yours into a smart snacker?https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preschool-snacks.html/b55b5073-6588-49a5-b672-ccdd689616d8
Snacks for ToddlersSome toddlers may seem too busy exploring to slow down and eat. Others may be fickle about food or refuse to eat at mealtime. That's where healthy, well-timed snacks come in.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/toddler-snacks.html/80d7a0b7-8d30-432c-aee6-4098ef0b6d98
When It's Just You After SchoolAre you home alone after school? If so, find out how to stay safe and keep busy until mom or dad comes home.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/kids/homealone.html/027ced08-0aab-4175-a6f1-8a9c3178bfa8
kh:age-bigKidSixToTwelvekh:age-teenThirteenToNineteenkh:clinicalDesignation-gastroenterologyAndNutritionWeightManagementkh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-gastroenterologyAndNutritionWeightManagementHealthy Eating & Your Familyhttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nutrition-center/healthy-eating/820bad5b-c255-4034-b617-dc1d9e09ab97Smart Food Choiceshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/homework/school-food/8710a83f-4e4e-4695-b777-7039b3aec0ba