Do toddlers need snacks? Absolutely. Whether your kiddos are at the park, home or preschool, there’s one thing you know for certain: your child is hungry! It’s time to break out the toddler snacks.
The list of snack ideas below will keep you and your toddler happy.
4 Things to Do When Choosing Toddler Snacks
Even the best chewers can get distracted, especially excited toddlers. Be sure to have children sit down to eat and tune into the foods while eating. No matter the food type, a distracted eater is a hazard. Here are some added tips for packing fun and safe snacks:
1. Keep Things Colorful
Taste of Home
Monochromatic lunches can be boring, so try adding pops of color with blue blueberries, purple grapes or bright red strawberries.
2. Add a Handful of Crunch
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Foods like crisp cucumbers or snappy pretzels are fun sensory foods for tongues.
3. Cut Out Shapes
Taste of Home
If your kids are really struggling to try new fruits and vegetables, use a cookie cutter ($12) to cut out a fun shape, or create an animal with the food to spark their interest. Think back to ants on a log (celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins).
4. Make Safety a Priority
What foods should toddlers avoid? Consider choking hazards when packing toddler snacks. The most common choking hazards include:
- Hot dogs
- Round fruits and vegetables
- Hard candy
- Whole nuts
- Nut butter
Use this guide to choking prevention to avoid choking hazards and pack safe foods.
Healthy Snacks for Toddlers with Protein and Fat
Here are a couple of healthy protein snacks that are perfect for a lunchbox or snack at home.
- Greek yogurt. Skip the flavored stuff and add in your own sliced fruit instead.
- Nut butters. Away from school, peanut butter or almond butter are great high-protein snacks. Spread a thin layer of PB on crackers or check out Bamba, the peanut butter puffs at Trader Joe’s.
- Edamame or tofu. The soybean snacks are delicious and nutritious. You can also try pan-seared tofu for a firmer texture.
- Smoothies. Stick with a base of yogurt, milk and nut butters. I like using ½ cup yogurt + 1 tablespoon almond butter + 1 handful spinach leaves + ½ banana + 1 cup milk, it’s a green treat!
- Egg salad or boiled eggs
- Bean fritters or bean dip
- Tuna salad. Kick up the nutrition by making it with Greek yogurt instead of mayo.
What are good snacks for toddlers? Toddlers definitely need healthy fats as their brains continue to grow at a rapid pace.
- Whole-fat Greek yogurt with chia or flaxseeds. Both chia and flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are preferred for brain development.
- Nut butters and seeds. Find a healthy nut butter and spread a thin layer on a cracker or piece of toast for a simple high-fat snack.
- Avocados. Sliced or mashed, they’re a tasty way to get extra nutrition and a dose of healthy fats.
- Cheese. Try a variety of sliced or grated cheeses, on a sandwich, a cracker or melted into a quesadilla.
- Olives. Just make sure this Mediterranean treat is without a pit!
- Whole-fat cottage cheese. Try it savory or sweet and see how your toddler prefers it.
- English Muffin Pizzas. Be sure to have your toddler choose their favorite toppings.
Snacks for Toddlers on the Go
Snacking at the Park
If you’re headed out to the park, consider packing foods that can handle warm temperatures or be sure to use an ice pack. You also want to avoid snacks that are messy or will require a hand washing after and don’t pack snacks with wrappers in case trash receptacles are limited.
- Cucumber sticks
- Boiled eggs
- Mandarin oranges
- Carrot sticks (for younger children, consider grating a carrot or cutting into matchsticks, serving one stick at a time)
- Fruit leather. If you’re interested in making your own, check out this recipe for Apricot Leather.
- Muffins can be a great way to sneak in vegetables, like pumpkin or zucchini. Try these Apple Pumpkin Muffins.
You want to pack every day’s lunch with healthy snacks for toddlers. Many schools now ask that you keep their space a nut-free zone, and we absolutely want to support those who have allergies. If your child loves peanut butter, opt for a sunflower butter instead! Here are a few preschool-friendly ideas:
- Avocado toast
- Crackers with cheese and meats (Skip the store-bought packages and make your own to keep costs low.)
- Homemade granola bars
- Egg salad and crackers
- Dried apple slices
- Apple sauce
- Dried fruit
- Fresh berries
- Sliced grapes (Cut lengthwise to prevent choking.)
- Pasta salad
- Hummus or bean dip
- Beans or lentils
- Kale or veggie chips
- Cottage cheese with canned peaches
- Cucumber slices or sticks
- Grated carrots
- Savory or sweet muffins
- Crackers (Make your own fish-shaped crackers with this recipe for Homemade Crisp Crackers and a fish cookie cutter.)
You can pack a variety of the snacks above into a bento box lunch like this for your toddler.
One Last Note About Toddler Snacks
Remember that toddlers have varying appetites and energy needs. Some toddlers may be on the move all day long and hungry more often, and others may only graze. Tune them into their tummies and help foster their intuition in being a mindful eater. They’re actually better at this than most adults!
If you’re struggling and finding yourself engaging in food battles, then check the Ellyn Satter Institute to guide table talk and find ways to raise intuitive eaters.