The Healthy Snack Bars Approved By Kids And Nutritionists Alike

When the 3 p.m. hangries hit, feel good about giving these options to your kiddos.

If your kids like to snack on cookies and chips, getting them to nosh on a healthier option can be tricky ― but it doesn’t have be a hair-pulling experience. Snack bars are an easy grab-and-go choice, especially as kids head back to school and schedules get busy. But with a proliferation of possibilities (a lot of which aren’t healthy at all), it can be challenging to know which of the more nutritious options the little ones will enjoy and which ones will elicit a gag response.

With that in mind, we asked nutritionists for their recommendations for yummy and healthy snack bars that kids will actually want to eat.

How to look for a balanced bar

To ensure your snack bar is satiating as well as satisfying, start by looking for a combination of protein and healthy fat, according to registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman. “Parents should pay less attention to the calories in the bar and more to the nutritional quality to make the best choice for their kid,” she said.

Another essential method to keep hunger at bay is ensuring protein and fiber are in good supply in your child’s snack bar. Registered dietitian nutritionist and consultant culinary nutritionist Sara Haas recommends parents always read the ingredient list when purchasing snack bars. “I recommend looking at fiber and protein ― both should be at least 2 grams,” she said. “Bars made with nuts, seeds and dried fruit listed at the front are typically good options.”

For portion size, “try to stick with 250 calories or less,” RDN Barb Ruhs advised. “For a child, bars loaded with calories and fat are likely going to interfere with their appetite for eating a meal. Depending on the child’s age, younger children may need up to 1,200 calories a day if you plan for three meals, [which breaks down to] 400 per meal. Some children can’t eat that many calories at a meal, so breaking it up into smaller snacks that are about half the amount of a meal is a good metric.”

Be mindful of sugar

If you’re looking for a bar that’s tasty but also nutritious, you’ll want to be mindful of the difference between natural and added sugar. “If children overeat added sugar, this can lead to obesity and little to no provision of the nutrients needed for proper growth,” RDN Kimberley Rose-Francis said. “According to the American Heart Association, children should consume less than 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily.”

Her recommendation is to choose a snack bar with one or zero grams of added sugar and choose bars sweetened naturally.

Remember: It should taste good!

An obvious and potentially underrated suggestion came from Ruhs: “My advice as a dietitian is pretty simple — finding a bar that your child will like the taste of and enjoy eating is the first step.” With so many options popping up to have healthier ingredients, newer sources of protein and fancy additives, at the end of the day, none of that matters if your kiddo manages to trade it to a friend for Dunkaroos. “Food should be enjoyable — yes, food is fuel, but it is also part of our cultural and family connections,” she said.

This sentiment is repeated by Beckerman, who shared that mouthfeel may be critical for youngsters. “If the bar crumbles easily or feels relatively hard on the outside, its texture may be a turnoff for your kid,” she said. “If they are more of a sweet eater, aim for a chocolate or date-based bar. If they are a salty eater, go for a peanut butter or seed-based bar.”

Be wary of the latest ‘it’ ingredients

As for bars with the latest buzzy ingredient like adaptogens, nootropics or CBD, RDN Amanda Frankeny cautions that few studies have been done on the impact of these supplements on children and that parents should proceed cautiously, if at all.

“The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve these items for safety or quality before they’re sold,” she said. “More often than not, even though these items can be found on store shelves, more human studies are needed to determine the proper dosage of the active ingredients, ideal preparation for the expected impact, their effect when combined with various ingredients, and more.”

Here are some brands the experts approve of.

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Rx Bars
Rx Bars
Rx Bars have 12 grams of protein per bar and are gluten-free. “Rx Bars are not only delicious, but they are nutritious as well," Rose-Francis told HuffPost. “They contain very few ingredients and are a great source of protein for growing children. Also, they are filling and contain zero grams of added sugar.” Frankeny is also a fan: “These get their sweetness from dates, and egg whites kick up the protein. I love the short and sweet ingredients list. They’re a soft, chewy snack that will keep kids energized.”

Get Rx Bars for $18.99 (10-pack).
That's It Fruit Bars
That's It
These bars are free of wheat, tree nuts, and eggs, making them a great option for children with allergies. “That’s It Fruit Bars are a tasty combination of fruits. With zero grams of added sugar and made only of fruits, this snack bar is one sure way to get more fiber and vitamins into your child’s diet,” Rose-Francis said. “They’re an acceptable replacement for the traditional fruit-flavored roll-up snack that is laced with added sugars.”

Get That’s It Fruit Bars for $17.99 (12-pack).
Kind Snack Minis
“I like Kind bars because you can visually see good nutrition — nuts, dried fruit — and with a little bit of indulgence by drizzling caramel or chocolate," Ruhs said. "I’m not a huge chocolate fan living in Arizona, because they typically melt before I get a chance to eat them — and that’s messy. So, I choose bars that can hold up in the car or in a lunch box for several hours without becoming messy to eat.”

Get Kind Snack Minis for $22.79 (32-pack).
Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bars
Nature's Bakery
“These are a good nut-free option that also is gluten-free — a great allergy-friendly choice for kids because some schools have 'nut-free' policies,” Ruhs said. “These are slightly higher in calories and sugar (210 calories, 11g added sugar) and 3g of fiber. They’re chewy and delicious and come in other kid-friendly flavors — strawberry, blueberry, raspberry. They also sell other oat-based bars that don’t have gooey fruit filling if your child isn’t into that — texture is a big deal for some kids. Talk to them, ask them what they like about certain foods/bars and you might learn how to make easier choices by avoiding the things they don’t want (little seeds in their teeth) or things that they really like (things that taste like a brownie!).”

Get Nature’s Bakery Gluten-Free Fig Bars for $20.13 (24-pack).
Bobo's Oat Bars
“These bars are delicious, straightforward, and not overly sweet,” Frankeny said. “They can be eaten on the go, packed for lunch, or stowed in a gym and baby bag. I live in the city they were developed, so I’m totally biased.”

Get Bobo's Oat Bars for $29.88 (12-pack).
Skout Organic Bars
“These organic, plant-based protein bars are a great and nutritious kid snack,” Beckerman said. “They contain plant-based protein coming from peanut butter or sunflower seeds. These ingredients are great in a kids bar because they help deliver important nutrients like iron and calcium, which kids can tend to skew low in. The bars are the perfect amount of sweet thanks to the organic dates, helping to bump up the nutritional value of the bar with vitamins and minerals like calcium, folate and iron.”

Get Skout’s Organic Kids Snack Bars for $35.99 (36-pack).
Blake's Seed-Based Bars
“These allergy-friendly, whole food, seed-based treats combine indulgent flavors, like birthday cake and s’mores, with good-for-you ingredients like flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds,” Beckerman said. “The seeds are packed with zinc, iron, omega-3s and protein, which ticks off a ton of key nutritional boxes for parents and kids alike. Plus, all the products are free of the top eight allergens and are made in a certified nut-free and gluten-free facility, helping to ease the stress of parents who have kids with severe allergies.”

Get Blake’s Seed-Based Bars for $17.99 (18-pack).
This Saves Lives Beehive Jive Honey & Oat Bar
This Saves Lives
“I love that this has 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein in each bar and only 3 grams of added sugar,” Haas said. “Plus, with each package of product you buy, they send food to a child in need.”

Get This Saves Lives Beehive Jive Honey & Oat Bar for $5.99 (5-pack).
Perfect Bars Kids
“These bars require refrigeration, but they get two thumbs up from kids AND parents when it comes to taste and staying power (thanks to 7 grams of protein in each bar),” Haas said.

Get Perfect Bars Kids for $5.39 (5-pack).

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