Low-Sugar Snacks for Kids
If you’re aiming to feed your children low-sugar snacks, you may be overwhelmed at the grocery store. Sugar and sugar substitutes come under dozens of different names, and it can be difficult to know just how much your kids consume each day. If you’re looking to cut back on sweets in your home, check out these low-sugar snacks for kids.
How Much Sugar Should Kids Have Per Day?
The American Heart Association recommends that children ages 2-18 should have no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. For reference, this is about six teaspoons of sugar — while a single, medium soda has around 11 teaspoons.
What to Look for in Low-Sugar Snacks for Kids
Sugar is sneaky, and many parents don’t realize how much sugar their kids are actually consuming. Here are a few tips for picking out low-sugar snacks for kids:
- Look for low overall and added sugar on the nutrition facts. Just because a snack is flavored with real fruit doesn’t mean it isn’t full of hidden sugars.
- Check the first few ingredients listed. They should be whole ingredients, not sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or a sugar substitute.
- Know your sugar substitutes. Just because a snack has no added “sugar” doesn’t mean it’s actually sugar-free. Whether you’re a fan of artificial sweeteners or not, be aware of sneaky sugars like aspartame, sucralose, stevia, erythritol, and sorbitol.
If you feel like your kids are always hungry, you may want to look for snacks high in protein to keep them full longer. Check out these easy ideas to get you started!
Nuts & Nut Butters
Nuts and nut butters are classic high-protein snacks that can be paired with everything from apples to celery. To keep the sugar low, look for natural peanut, almond, or cashew butter. While traditional options may have hidden sugars and oils, many natural nut butters only contain nuts and salt.
While most studies show that children can safely start trying foods containing peanuts between four and six months, be sure to consult your doctor with any questions. For those with allergies or nut-free school cafeterias, look for natural sunflower butter and other nut-free alternatives.
Cheese is another easy snack that provides both protein and high levels of calcium. For picky eaters, start with something fun, like string cheese or American cheese cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Pair with whatever you like — from fruits and veggies to crackers and nuts — for a great, low-sugar snack for kids.
Yogurt is packed with protein and calcium, making it a great low-sugar snack for kids. Be sure to check the label for any sneaky sugars — or opt for plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit and toppings to have more control over the sugar levels.
Fruit & Veggie Snacks
Snacktime is a great way to sneak in an extra fruit or vegetable. Try these low-sugar snacks for kids that may also provide a serving of fruits or vegetables.
While many fruits have lots of natural sugar, berries like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are relatively low in sugar. They’re also high in fiber and vitamin C, making them nutritious snacks for kids of all ages. Try serving them on their own, on top of yogurt, or even dipped in chocolate for a treat.
If your child craves sugar and is a picky eater, fruit snacks can help them become more interested in fresh fruit. While some fruit snacks can be high in sugar, there are plenty of lower-sugar options made with real fruit like Welch’s (7 grams per serving) and Mott’s (9 grams per serving).
For kids who won’t even touch celery or carrots at snacktime, veggie chips and straws can help kids warm up to the idea of eating something green. Most veggie snack brands are low in sugar, and many are made with real vegetables for added nutrition.
If you feel like your kids are always hungry, you’re not alone! Many studies show that children and even teens should eat every three to four hours to supply their bodies with the fuel they need to grow. It can be tough to find healthy packaged snacks for kids at the grocery store — but here are a few of our favorite low-sugar options.
Popcorn is another mess-free snack that kids love. Pop it yourself at home with a little salt or try a pre-popped version to keep your kids full without causing a sugar crash.
Trail mix is easy to take on the go, and can also be high in protein to keep kids full longer. For a lower-sugar option, skip the candy and chocolate and instead opt for savory choices like nuts, pretzels, crackers, and sesame sticks.
The granola bar aisle can be overwhelming when it comes to picking out low-sugar snacks for kids. While every brand is a little different, keep your eye on the total and added sugars, and also be on the lookout for sugar alternatives like sucralose and sorbitol.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make your own with our Lunchbox Granola Bar recipe. That way you can control the exact amount and type of sugar you use.