Healthy snacks for kids don't have to be dull. Consider 10 tips for quick and healthy snacks.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Snacking is a major pastime for many kids — and that's not necessarily bad. Nutritious snacking can help your child curb hunger throughout the day, as well as provide energy and important nutrients. Find out how to make healthy snacks for kids.

Your child won't clamor for cookies, candy bars or chips if you don't keep them on hand. Set a good example by choosing healthy snacks yourself.

Whole-grain foods — such as whole-grain pretzels or tortillas and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — provide energy with some staying power.

Serve baby carrots or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Dip graham cracker sticks or fresh fruit in fat-free yogurt. Spread peanut butter on celery, apples or bananas.

Offer out-of-the-usual fare, such as avocado, pineapple, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or mangoes. Have kids choose a few foods and mix them together for a colorful snack.

Serve breakfast foods as healthy snacks for kids in the afternoon. Consider dried cereal mixed with dried fruit and nuts or microwaveable oatmeal made with low-fat milk and mixed with unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon.

Healthy snacks for kids don't have to be bland. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, offer lower fat puddings and frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars. Make smoothies with milk, plain yogurt, and fresh or frozen fruit.

Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of low-fat cheese slices, whole-grain bread or whole-grain tortillas. Make fruit kebabs or show your child how to eat diced fruit with chopsticks. Make a tower out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit.

Keep a selection of ready-to-eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Store low-sugar, whole-grain cereal, and fruit canned or packaged in its own juice in an easily accessible cabinet.

Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories and sodium. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.

Restrict snacking to certain areas, such as the kitchen, and avoid connecting eating with screen time. You'll save your child countless calories from mindless munching. If your child needs to snack on the go, offer a banana, string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars, carrot sticks or other drip-free items.

Teaching your child to make healthy snack choices now will help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Start today!

Apr. 12, 2014