Are you snack mom again this week? You’re in luck! This guide to healthy team snacks for preschoolers tells you exactly what foods to give your little ones and their teammates before or after their games and practices.
If you have a 3- or 4-year-old, this is probably their first time playing a sport. Set them up for a healthy season with these tips!
Welcome To Team Sports: The Preschool Edition
Oh, preschool team sports. The cute little jerseys, the team cheers, the young athletes… actually wait, can I even call a 4-year-old an athlete?! Let’s be honest, if you have ever watched a group of three and four year olds play soccer, you know the answer is a resounding no.
I mean, they look the part with their shin guards and cleats, and it’s beyond adorable! But there’s a lot more standing around, staring at the grass, and picking flowers/wedgies than there is actual athleticism going on.
My preschooler played in our local soccer league for the first time last year, and I was kind of shocked when I saw an email assigning parents to bring snacks and drinks for the team post-game. The extra work was hard for me as a mom. (Do we need to do this for our 3 and 4 year olds? Seems like a lot of work!). The snack suggestions from the coach were hard for me as a dietitian.
I mean, Gatorade and fruit snacks? Seriously?! I know the kids LOVE it, but I don’t really want my kid to start expecting stuff like this every time he plays a soccer game. That’s not really what it’s about.
And because I know that if I’m thinking these things, some of you probably are too, I set to work making this post.
Why I Hate Gatorade and Fruit Snacks
Gatorade is meant to replace the electrolytes we lose when doing intense physical activity– like 60-minutes-in-hot-humid-weather intense. At the preschool age, the field is small, they rotate out regularly, and then there’s the whole “they mostly just stand around” thing. So, chances are your preschooler is not working hard enough to need anything more than water at their games.
If they are working that hard for that long, that’s pretty impressive. Go ahead and give them Gatorade! And if they’re participating in a tournament where they are playing multiple games per day, give them Gatorade then, too.
Just remember that Gatorade is meant for high-exertion activities and it does have a lot of sugar in it, so it should be reserved for times when they actually need it. And yes, I know I’m picking on Gatorade right now, but the same thing holds true for any sugary drinks. Capri Sun, juice boxes, pouches… They’re just not necessary for our little ones after every game!
And what about the snacks? I realize that it’s part of our culture to celebrate things with food, and of course, snacks in general aren’t an issue. It’s just that their regular daily schedule, with three meals and two snacks, provides plenty of opportunities for kids to get all the nutrition they need in a day. When we have a mid-morning soccer game, these after-game treats tend to ruin any appetite for lunch.
But, since this age-old tradition of post-soccer snacks isn’t going anywhere, I’ve put together the best possible options for you guys to pick from. These are the ones I serve to my child’s team when it’s my week, so you can rest easy knowing they’re “athlete” approved!
Healthy Team Snacks
Okay, I know fruit isn’t the most exciting snack ever, but you can always serve it with cute food picks to make it a little more fun! I like these from Amazon (this is an affiliate link: as an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases).
Some of my favorite fruit options are:
- Orange wedges
Now that my son is 5, he has more of an opinion about things. He didn’t hold back in telling me that he thought it was SUPER LAME that I wanted to bring fruit for his teammates!
If you’re in the same boat, here are some “cooler” packaged snacks, that are still healthy:
- Quaker Kids Organic Whole Grain Strawberry Bars
- Bags of Popcorn (For ages 5 and up– popcorn is a choking hazard for little ones)
- Applesauce Pouches
- Nature’s Bandits Fruit Snacks (A healthier version of fruit snacks, made only with fruit!)
Instead of Gatorade and other sugary sport drinks (by now you’re well aware of how I feel about those!), I opt for flavored water & juice boxes. These are my go-to’s:
What To Do if the Coach Encourages Post-Game Treats
Okay, I know this can be a bit annoying if you’re working on establishing healthy food habits at home. Just remember that the coach (and the other parents) definitely don’t intend to mess with that.
That said, I would send a kind email asking if you could provide some healthy snack suggestions to share with the other parents, to give them ideas. This way all parents will get a reminder to think “healthy” when it’s their turn to bring snacks. Ultimately you can’t control what other families choose to do– and that’s okay. But if you don’t mention it to the coach at all, chances are it’ll happen more, and you’ll become increasingly annoyed.
And of course, if your child has a cupcake or two during the season, remember that it’s not the end of the world. They might lose their appetite for lunch that day, but just go back to normal at the next meal. They’ll be okay.
Need More Healthy Snack Ideas?
You know I’ve got you covered!
If you want to make a homemade healthy snack (that the team won’t even know is healthy!), grab a copy of No Sugar, Still Sweet. Pssst — I highly recommend the 2-bite brownies!!