Now that school is out and the children are home during the day it may seem they are hungry all the time.

1. Your child has a small stomach.


Now that school is out and the children are home during the day it may seem they are hungry all the time.

1. Your child has a small stomach. So he or she probably eats less at meals than you do. Smart snacks can help your child eat and drink enough during the day. In fact, most young children do best when they eat four to six times a day.

2. Snacks are an important part of everyday eating. Snacks can be healthy or they can be a goldmine for fat, calories and sodium. Healthy snacks can be fun for people of any age. Get a little creative and turn a ho hum snack into an exciting one.

3. Keep food group snacks handy: for example, raw vegetables, fruit, juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, bread, peanut butter and hard-cooked eggs.

Let snacks fill in the gaps. If your child misses juice for breakfast, offer fruit at snack time.

Time snacks carefully, two to three hours before meals. That way, your child will be hungry for lunch or supper.

Offer snacks to satisfy hunger. Skip the urge to offer a snack to quiet tears, calm your child or reward behavior. That can lead to emotional overeating later on.

Keep snacks small. If your child is still hungry, he or she can ask for more. Let your child decide what’s enough.

Encourage tooth brushing after snacking, especially after eating bread, crackers and sweet foods.

Snack wisely yourself! Do you snack when you feel stressed or bored, or just when you’re hungry? What foods do you snack on? Remember, your child learns snack habits by watching you. Be a great role model!

4. Check out some of these ideas and then create your own. Several of these can be made as a family activity.

• Fresh fruit makes excellent snacks, full of vitamins and minerals. Line a baking pan with plastic wrap. Place fresh fruit, such as grapes, melon balls and strawberry halves, in a single layer on the plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Freeze for two to three hours. Serve plain or with fruit-flavored yogurt for dipping.

• Cut a fresh pear lengthwise in half. Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out the core. Place each half in a small bowl. Scoop balls of frozen yogurt into the centers of the pears halves. Sprinkle with granola.

• In an ice cream cone, layer cut up mixed fruit such as kiwi, strawberries, blue berries, pears or peaches with vanilla yogurt.

• Make an easy banana pudding. Slice a half of a banana. Stir together a single serving container of pudding and the banana slices. Sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers or crisp cereal.

• Use the preparation and eating time to talk about foods as a family. Try to name a fruit for each letter of the alphabet. Or state a color and have family members name a fruit of that color. Ask which fruits have a peel we can eat.

Susan M. Jackson is the Harvey County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences and community development.