Snack suggestions for preschool children with diabetes

If your child has type 1 diabetes, insulin, food, and exercise must balance to keep your child's blood sugar in his or her target range. Insulin and exercise lower blood sugar levels. Food (especially carbohydrate foods) can raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Small children tend to go through phases of picky eating. Try to offer a wide variety of fun, nutritious choices. Don't force your child to eat. If your child rejects a food, try another. If your child will not eat anything, then offer some juice or milk instead.

Don't restrict fat in the diet of children younger than age 2. Give whole milk to children in this age group. To increase the enjoyment and acceptance of snacks, let your child help prepare them.

Here are a few creative snack ideas:

  • Ants on a log: Celery stick stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Two tablespoons of raisins equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • Pretzel pops: Cubed cheese on a pretzel stick. About ½ cup of pretzels (or 1 ounce) with cheese on the end equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • Fruit kabobs: Toothpicks lined with your child's favorite fruits—canned or fresh. One-half cup canned or 1 cup melon cubes equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • Smudgies: Blend 1½ cups milk with ½ cup peanut butter and 1 package of sugar-free instant pudding—chocolate or vanilla. Beat well, then let stand for 5 minutes. Spread filling ½-inch thick on graham cracker square. Top with another graham cracker square and then freeze until firm—about 3 hours. Makes 12. One smudgie equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • English muffin pizza: Halve an English muffin, spread pizza sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese, then bake at 350°F (177°C) until cheese melts. One pizza equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • Bagel bites: Slice flavored bagels thin, like coins, and place on a baking sheet. Spray them lightly with olive oil and bake at 400°F (204°C) for 10 minutes. Half of a small bagel equals 1 carbohydrate choice.
  • Fruit milk shake: Blend together ½ cup milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries (frozen without added sugar), 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 3 packets of Equal or other sugar substitute. One shake equals 1 carbohydrate choice.

Very small children can't tell you when they have low blood sugar, which means that their blood sugar may need checking more often. Stars, stickers, or words of encouragement may help reduce your child's fear of finger sticks or insulin injections. They might help you feel better, too.

Last Updated: March 2, 2010

Author: Kathleen M. Ariss, MS

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

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