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Your little ones are growing by the second, and it’s all you can do to stay one step ahead of their hunger. And while a daily dose of cheese puffs and orange wedges seems to keep everyone happy and satisfied, snack time could use a little shake-up. We’ve done the legwork (because you do enough of that) and curated a few of our favorite ways to make snacking more fun—from exciting ingredients and twists on classics to food-inspired games that will help their little minds and bodies grow. You might even get an assistant in the kitchen.

ants on a log snack
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1. Reinvent Ants on a Log

Are you prepping “ants on a log” for the fifth afternoon in a row? Today, spice things up, literally, with a multitude of toppings and watch their little imaginations blossom. Encourage storytelling as they garnish their “logs” with protein-packed nut butter, cream cheese or avocado mash and then sprinkle with whatever you have on hand, like granola, cinnamon, blueberries, pistachios, edamame or walnuts (go crazy).

Sponsored motts apple applesauce clear pouch
Mott's; Getty Images

2. Let ’Em Take Things into Their Own Hands

When your energy for family participation wanes, you’ll want a low-maintenance option at your beck and call. For a nutritious snack that gives the kids independence (and you that treasured convenience), try Mott’s Applesauce Pouches. They come in a variety of flavors and no-sugar-added options, like Granny Smith, Blueberry and Strawberry, and require exactly zero prep—and zero cleanup—on your part.

Mott's

3. Master the Good-for-You Treats

Give those classic options a glow-up when your kids deserve it. Enter dessert for snack time. You’re welcome. This guilt-free banana split is made with fruit, applesauce and whipped cream cheese…but they don’t need to know that.

Mott's

4. Create Shapes with Your Littlest...

Speaking of dessert, dust off your holiday cookie cutters—you can use them all year! Task your toddlers with giving their mini tuna melts and grilled cheese sandwiches a little flair via flower-shaped cheddar and star-shaped Swiss. Just add deli-cut cheese slices and whole-wheat bread (and, since you’re sneaky, any other hidden protein or veggies) to your grocery haul.

5. ...And Letters with Your Eldest

We love thin pretzels or carrot sticks as a vehicle for alphabet practice. Encourage your budding readers and writers to take bites as they spell, creating perfect A-to-Z pieces. Mastered uppercase and lowercase letters? Let the hangman marathon begin.

Mott's

6. Encourage Poking (Kidding, Kind Of...)

Present the kids with toothpicks and raw veggies chopped into different shapes and sizes and watch them explore the different colors and patterns. Keep a watchful eye, of course, and encourage tasting along the way. Once they’re hooked at snack time, graduate to mealtime. We love this grilled option from Mott’s, complete with instructions for your young sous-chefs.

kids playing bingo
Weekend Images Inc./Getty Images

7. When All Else Fails? Bingo

Ultimately, the way out of your snack rut is to introduce new foods often. To encourage a diet beyond plain penne with butter, we love food-friendly games like snack bingo. Create a board each Sunday and let your little ones cross off different food groups as they nibble their way through the week. Extra mom points if you sneak Brussels sprouts in somehow.

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