The Best Healthy Snacks for Your Toddler
Written by: Jennifer Landis
Getting toddlers to eat in some households is the equivalent of trying to herd cats into a room full of dogs— they’ll devour chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, but if you try to get them to eat a vegetable, you’re in for the fight of your life. Their stubbornness doesn’t mean you’re giving up though. So, what snacks will make them budge on their hunger strike?
Try these healthy snacks for your toddler and watch them gobble them up:
Potatoes are a lot better for you than most people give them credit for — with the addition of dairy and a couple of supplements like B12, you can survive on nothing but potatoes. Skip the french fries though, and go for an original baked potato instead.
Top it with cheese to account for the dairy section of the food pyramid and feel free to add anything that your toddler might think tastes good on a potato. Give it plenty of time to cool though — the interior of those potatoes gets super hot when baked!
Peanut butter is a go-to choice for toddler foods, but with the rising number of peanut allergies, it’s not always the best choice. Thankfully, there is a host of different nut butters that taste fantastic, but don’t risk an allergy attack. Cashew, almond, walnut and even sunflower kernels are all available as “nut” butter.
The beautiful thing about nut butter is it works with just about any snack food. Try these:
- Nut butter apple slices: Dip them in your favorite nut butter. If you have an apple corer, you can even slice your apples into large round pieces and make some nut butter and apple sandwiches.
- Nut butter ants on a log: Fill celery slices with nut butter and top with raisins for a fun snack. You may even find you and your kids playing with your food with this healthy grub.
- Nut butter and banana sandwich: Skip the marshmallow fluff for a healthier treat with this yummy lunchtime meal, which is pretty close to Elvis’ favorite sandwich, the infamous Fluffernutter.
- Nut butter raisin spread: This spread puts a unique twist on the classic peanut butter spread. To make it, simmer applesauce, raisins, cinnamon and your favorite nut butter in a saucepan until the raisins plump up, then blend in a food processor.
- Nut butter pretzels: Create a fun afternoon in by making and dipping pretzels in your favorite — and healthy — nut butter. Stick with whole wheat or whole grain pretzels, though.
Without a doubt, you’ll find yourself enjoying these are toddler-friendly snacks too!
Now that your kids are all about eating nut butter, it’s time to start talking about where they come from — nuts! Nuts themselves can make an excellent snack for your toddlers, as long as they’re in small enough pieces that your kids can crunch and munch on them with ease.
Some of the healthiest — and kid-friendly — nuts include:
- Walnuts: These are an easy-to-enjoy snack. Plus, they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. Even better, walnuts provide more than 100 percent of your recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Almonds: In addition to being a good source of protein, almonds also provide you and your kids with fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. In fact, a handful of almonds is one-eighth of your daily protein requirements.
- Cashews: Like walnuts, cashews are also heart healthy. These odd shaped nuts are high in unsaturated fatty acids, which promote heart health.
For toddlers, skip whole nuts in favor of smaller pieces that don’t present a choking hazard.
Both raw and cooked vegetables can make an excellent snack, and they’re easy to prepare. Fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and carrots can all be eaten raw by themselves, or with a low-fat dip like hummus.
You don’t have to serve boring veggies on a plate though — toddlers love it when their food is fun. Dress it up by turning tomato slices into ladybug wings or cauliflower heads into sheep. Your imagination only limits you when it comes to food.
Everyone loves cheese, and it’s a great way to make sure that your toddler is getting enough calcium in their diet. What’s terrific about cheese is it’s safe to eat for a variety of ages and abilities. Children who are still learning their fine motor skills can make a mess and enjoy eating shredded cheese, while older toddlers can practice those same skills by peeling off low-fat string cheese.
If you’re getting bored with plain old cheese or string cheese, change it up a little bit with these snacks:
- Turkey and cheese wraps: Wrap up a piece of cheese inside a slice of turkey to create a fun finger food for your toddlers. Make sure you cut it into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Pizza crackers: Top a multigrain cracker with a slice of cheese and your toddler’s favorite pizza toppings, or introduce them to some, like onions, peppers, mushrooms or tomatoes.
- Edible kabobs: Use multigrain pretzel sticks to create kabobs with bite-sized pieces of meat, cheese and
For toddlers, make sure you stick to hard cheeses like cheddar and mozzarella rather than softer cheeses that may contain bacteria, which could be dangerous to the child.
The only exception to this rule is pasteurized soft cheeses, like cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta. Experiment with different cheese types to expand your toddler’s pallet and find out what they enjoy eating.
Healthy snacks are an essential part of a toddler’s diet — but we all know how tricky it can be to get kids to enjoy the foods that are good for them. Hopefully, these tricks can help keep your kids healthy while making snack time something that you both look forward to every day.