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Making snack time play time

Growing kids can’t make it on three squares a day — they need a few snacks in between meals to keep them nourished. It can be tricky to get them to stop playing long enough to grab a bite to eat, so pick your battles and do things their way.

Mom and toddler baking together

Here are some fun ways they can play while they snack. They’ll be having so much fun, they won’t even realize they’ve cleaned their plates!

Go shopping

Your kids probably know their way around the grocery store, so why not let them try their hand at shopping in the comfort of your own home? Set up a mini grocery store in your home — stack empty boxes to make shelves and fill them with snack options. If you don’t have a play shopping cart, give your kids reusable totes or plastic shopping bags. Let your kids go shopping, then you can play cashier and help them check out. Once they’ve completed their transaction, they can get to work munching on their purchases.

Have a tea party

What little girl doesn’t love a tea party? Suggest the two of you have a tea party when snack time rolls around, but instead of devouring pretend cookies and cakes, make little tea sandwiches and pastries to share with your tiny hostess. Use her tea set and play dishes to serve up the snacks (just make sure to wash them first!). If you really want to go all out, play dress-up and let her pick out a pretty dress and hat for you to wear to the party.

Creating a fairytale tea party >>

Bake it!

There’s only one thing kids like more than a cookie, and that’s a cookie they had a hand in making. Invite your kiddos into the kitchen and let them get their hands a little dirty. If you’re not into sweet treats, make a healthy version of your favorite cookie, substituting oatmeal for flour and applesauce for butter and oil — your kids will never know the difference. Designate them the official clock-watchers and have them alert you when it’s time to pull the cookies out of the oven. Those cookies will taste twice as sweet when they’re the ones who mixed up the batter.

5 Fun baking recipes for kids >>

Play restaurant

It’s always fun to eat out, but you don’t have to leave home to have fun snacking at a “restaurant.” Make up menus of snack choices you have on hand. (If your kids are too young to read, help them out or draw pictures next to the words.) Have your kids sit around the table and place their orders. Use placemats and the nicest unbreakable tableware you have. Put together their orders and deliver the food to the table on a tray. If you don’t have a tray, use a cookie sheet or round pizza pan. They’ll have so much fun playing the role of customers that they won’t even realize they’ve cleaned their plates.

6 Tips for taking kids out to eat >>


Let your kids make their own snack. Your kitchen may get messy, but they’ll probably eat it if they make it, plus they’ll have a ton of fun!

More snack tips

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10 Fun kids’ snacks to pack
Family game night essentials

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