2½ - 5 years

Providing healthy snacks, including a variety of tooth friendly fruit and vegetables can help your child to get the energy and nutrients they need to grow up healthy and have the energy to learn and play. Introducing your child to simple and varied snack foods helps to develop good dietary habits which they will take with them into later childhood and beyond.

Why is it important?

About 30% of your child’s daily nutrients can be met through healthy snacks, including milk drinks at bedtime. A healthy, balanced diet which includes healthy snacks along with regular physical activity, are essential for your child’s health and wellbeing. Children do not need sugary foods such as sweets, biscuits, cakes, chocolate, soft drinks or sugar for energy. Snacks, including drinks which are high in salt and sugar can lead to health problems and tooth decay. Good sources of energy include starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and yam.

Tips for healthy snacks:

  • Role model - if your child sees you eating healthy snacks they are more likely to do so too
  • Involve your child in preparing snacks including fruit and vegetables whenever possible
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks including: sweets, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, fruit juices and smoothies, fruit purées and dried fruits between meals which can cause tooth decay
  • Offer dairy foods (or good quality alternatives) for some snacks which provide your child with essential nutrients such as iodine and calcium

Milk and water are the only drinks your child needs

First point of contact

Providing healthy snacks does not need to be expensive. There are many places where you can buy a wide range of fruit and vegetables at low cost. Speak to your Health Visitor to find out if you can access vouchers to purchase free fruit and vegetables and milk.

The Best Start with HENRY service can support you with ideas for tooth friendly snack foods. They can also provide information on places to purchase low cost fresh foods for snacks and help and information to achieve the right portion size for your child:

Best Start with HENRY in City & Hackney

Local services and information

Healthy Start vouchers

If you are pregnant or have children under the age of 4, are receiving certain benefits, or are under 18, you may be able to access the Healthy Start vouchers to purchase fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and plain or formula milk. For more information drop in to your local children's centre and speak to reception staff, or speak to your health visitor.

If your child attends childcare or a nursery school ask them if they are part of the Eat Better Start Better nutrition programme which supports healthier menus and great mealtimes.

National resources


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This page was last modified on: 3 Jan 2022