How to Prepare Dairy-Free Snacks for Kids - dummies

How to Prepare Dairy-Free Snacks for Kids

By Suzanne Havala Hobbs

When you choose for your children to go dairy-free, taking steps to ensure that you replace the dairy you’re ditching with foods that are comparable — and not worse than — the foods they’re replacing is important. In other words, if your child stops drinking cow’s milk, don’t let soft drinks or highly sugared juices stand in for the beverage with meals.

Your child can eat only so much over the course of a day. Any time that your child consumes junk over nutrient-dense foods, she lessens the nutritional value of her diet. She decreases the likelihood that she’ll get what she needs and increases the likelihood that she’ll get too much of what she doesn’t need. For example, when junk displaces nutritious foods, she tends to eat a lower amount of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and a higher amount of saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and sodium.

If your child has access to junk foods regularly, she’s more likely to become conditioned to eating junk and carry that habit into adulthood. Most junk foods come in the form of snacks — cakes, cookies, snack crackers, chips, candy, and other processed snacks foods. Instead of these, offer your child healthier snack options.

Nondairy snacks should be nutrient dense. Good choices for children include the following:

  • Celery with peanut butter

  • Whole-grain cereal with nondairy milk

  • Fresh fruit

  • Frozen fruit bars

  • Muffins made with nondairy milk

  • Pita points with hummus

  • Fat-free microwave popcorn or popcorn made at home with vegetable oil

  • Sandwich half made with whole-grain bread

  • Smoothies made with nondairy milk and fresh fruit

  • Soup cups

  • Tortilla chips with black bean dip

  • Veggies with nondairy dressing or hummus

  • Whole-grain bagels with nondairy cream cheese

  • Whole-grain toast with nondairy margarine and jelly

Keep healthful, dairy-free snack options in plain sight where they’re easy to grab when a snack attack strikes. A large bowl of colorful, ready-to-eat fresh fruit on the kitchen counter or table is a good idea. Keep several types of fruit on hand at any given time, including seasonal fruits such as berries, peaches, and melons.

Young children may need an adult or older child to help peel and cut some fruits such as oranges or apples. Be aware, too, that whole grapes may pose a choking hazard and shouldn’t be given to children under 4 years of age.