KANSAS CITY — Companies that specialize in children’s food must weigh both the nutritional needs and the flavor profile of their products, ensuring children get proper nutrition through foods that actually taste good.

From protein shakes to smoothie pouches to crunchy snacks, new products in the children's food category are striking a delicate balance between these two priorities.

“You cannot fool kids; the product has to be designed for flavor as well as their needs and preferences,” said Liron Fendell, chief executive officer and managing director at Nutritional Growth Solutions.

Nutritional Growth Solutions recently launched its Healthy Heights KidzProtein and KidzProtein Vegan shakes, protein shakes containing a blend of micro and macro-nutrients that are said to support childhood growth and development, according to the company.

Also going for flavor, while still emphasizing the use of healthy ingredients is the Beech-Nut Nutrition Co., which debuted Mini Waffles with Hidden Veggies. The crisp snack, designed for children 12 months and up, contains vegetables in every bite and are a healthier alternative to other sugary treats, according to the company.

Eat the Change also is making a better-for-you alternative with Cosmic Carrot Chews, the company’s first children’s snack. As an alternative in the fruit snack category, the snack is made with a dehydrated carrot, giving it a chewy texture.

The carrot chews are a result of being creative in the kitchen with innovation to avoid waste,” said Chef Spike Mendelsohn, co-founder of Eat the Change. “I was doing R&D for a carrot chip product and was sent the wrong type of carrots. Instead of letting the food go to waste, I marinated and dehydrated them anyway, which yielded a chewy texture versus a chip. When I brought the carrot chews home for my son to taste, he loved them. That’s when I knew we were onto something great.”

Click to view slideshow of new children's products.