Snacks at daycare: What to bring

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Does your daycare provider supply the snacks at daycare for your child?  More commonly, conventional group daycares and oftentimes in-home daycares are asking parents to bring snacks for their own child or for all the children in his class.   

How many snacks should I bring?
Depending on the age of the child, the quantity of snacks at daycare typically ranges from 6 to 15. Your daycare provider will provide you with an exact quantity. Make sure to review the snacks and daycare schedule regularly to see if your child’s class size changes. 

How often should I expect to provide snacks at daycare?
If you are providing snacks for your own child, the daycare may ask you to bring snacks every day.  If you are bringing snacks for the class, you will likely take turns with other parents and/or the daycare provider. Depending on the size of his class, you should expect to bring snacks once a week or once a month. 

What foods should I bring?
Because of food allergies, some daycares may require foods that are prepackaged. With packaged foods, the provider can check the ingredients label before offering it to a child with a specific allergy, such as to peanuts or dairy.  Prepackaged foods also eliminate the possibility of traces of an allergen on a utensil or container that may have been used to prepare the snack. “If your child has a food allergy, we highly recommend that you bring your own snacks for your child,” says Lisa Busalacchi, daycare director of Almost Home in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “That way you can be assured your child is being protected as much as possible.” 

Consider the age of the child when choosing snacks at daycare. Small items, such as grapes may be choking hazards for young children, especially under the age of three.  Additionally, most physicians are recommending peanut products only be given to children over the age of two – and even older for cashews and walnuts – to prevent developing a peanut allergy. Check with your daycare provider for specific guidelines. 

Your daycare may provide you with a breakfast and lunch schedule for the month. Before you choose a snack, check the schedule to see what they are serving for the day. Lisa of Almost Home explains, “Canned peaches may not look too inviting at snack time if the kids just had it with lunch.”  

Most daycares will ask you to bring “healthy” snacks.  So what is considered a healthy snack?  According to The Dietary Guidelines, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children over the age of two should eat a variety of foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products while keeping sugars and salt to a minimum. 

Running out of ideas for healthy snacks?  Here are some convenient healthy snacks to bring:

§      Cheese sticks or slices

§      Crackers – Try oyster crackers or fish crackers.

§      Graham crackers

§      Fresh fruit, for example bananas or grapes

§      Canned fruit, such as mandarin oranges, peaches, pears, mixed fruit or applesauce

§      Dried fruit, such as raisins or apricots

§      Trail mix - Considering the peanut allergy, this is recommended for older children and those without allergy concerns.

§      Granola bars - This is also recommended for older children and those without allergy concerns.

§      Rice cakes – Comes in many fun flavors.

§      Mini bagels

§      Beef sticks

§      Yogurt

§      Mini muffins

§      Prepackaged sliced apples

§      Pretzels – Considered a better choice than chips.

§      Popcorn – Add or buy cheese or caramel. Because of the possible choking hazard, this is recommended for older children.

§      Chex Mix™ – Check out the new prepackaged flavored varieties.

§      Dry cereal, such as granola, Cheerios™ or Mini Wheats™

§      Cut up raw veggies, for instance carrots or celery

§      Pickles 

Want to spice up your child’s snack time?  Try some of these for a creative twist:

§      Bake muffins inside an ice cream cone.

§      Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon and sugar to make a mini apple pie.

§      Serve graham cracker sticks with yogurt cups for dipping (kids love to dip).

§      Cut sugar free Jello Jigglers™ into shapes that match the season, such as pumpkins for Halloween or hearts for Valentine’s Day.

§      Mix fresh fruit into Jello™ before it sets.

§      Serve cut up raw veggies with peanut butter, veggie dip or cheese spread. Recommended for older children.

§      Make a pear boat by inserting a toothpick into two ends of a slice of processed cheese to form a sail, then place the toothpick into the middle of a pear half to create the boat. Recommended for older children.

§      Spread cream cheese onto flour tortillas and place ham slices on top. Roll up and cut into bite-sized pieces.

§      Slice crisp bagels and bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown. Meanwhile, mix melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. Toss the sugar mixture with the bagels. 

Providing snacks at daycare does not have to be a chore. Think of it as a good opportunity to provide your child with a snack you can control – at least for a day.  And when you include your child in preparation or the choices, it can be fun as well as educational. 

At Almost Home daycare center, your tuition includes meals and one snack. The kids get to learn the value of ownership and giving by providing and distributing one snack a month. Snacks at daycare schedules are provided in parent's folders each month.

Interested in a daycare center for your child? Visit Almost Home's program information page or call us at our Oconomowoc daycare center at 262-569-5655

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