Top 10 Healthy Snacks For Toddlers
Toddlers often like to eat on-the-go and are usually grazers – eating a little bit at a time but returning frequently for more. Since a toddler’s stomach is so much smaller than an adult’s, it’s impossible to expect them to eat only three meals each day. Instead they should eat about six to eight small meals or snacks. It can even be a good idea to keep healthy food available in a cabinet or in the refrigerator that they can access whenever they would like.
It’s hard to come up with a variety of foods to serve that many times each day, though! These snack ideas should help with your planning and give you a springboard to come up with new ideas of your own.
- Fresh fruits like bananas, apples, grapes, melon, and berries are quick and easy to serve. All types, except some berries, will need to be peeled and cut up before eating, but that usually takes less than ten minutes. Cut apples can be stored in the refrigerator covered with water that contains a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to stop the flesh from turning brown. (Grapes are a choking hazard for young children and should be cut in quarters before serving.)
- Fresh vegetables are wonderfully healthy snacks, and most can be eaten raw. Raw carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower can be kept in the refrigerator for easy access during the day. Sweet potato and squash can be cooked in the microwave or oven, cut into cubes, and served.
- Natural cheeses are full of protein and nutrients and are very quick to serve. Cheddar, mozzarella, Colby, and other types can be cut into sticks or cubes. Some toddlers love having a toothpick stuck in each cube for fancy eating.
- Dry beans can be soaked, cooked, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week while small portions are served to a toddler each day. Beans are full of protein, fiber, and other nutrients, making them an excellent and belly-filling choice for snack time. Most toddlers don’t mind eating them cold, straight from the fridge.
- Peanut Butter Apple Crunchers – To liven up snack time, apples can be sliced (and peeled for young toddlers), spread with peanut butter, and then coated with a crushed cereal. Three food groups in one bite!
- Ants on a Log – Celery sticks, cut to about 2 – 3 inches long, can be spread with peanut butter, cream cheese, or another healthy spread. The ’ants’ sprinkled on top can be raisins, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, or crushed pretzels.
- Yogurt Banana Bars – A peeled banana can be coated with yogurt of any flavor and then rolled in crushed cereal, seeds, or chopped nuts. A popsicle stick can be inserted in the banana, and then the whole thing should be put in the freezer overnight. For very young children, it can be better to slice the bananas before coating them, and it may be best to serve them without freezing.
- Peanut Butter Balls – For these high-protein and super tasty snacks, one cup of nonfat dry milk, one cup of peanut butter, and 2 – 4 tablespoons honey are combined in a bowl. The mixture should be stirred until a malleable dough is formed. If it’s too sticky, more dry milk should be added; if it’s too crumbly, more peanut butter is added. The mixture is then rolled into teaspoon-sized balls, which can be eaten right away or refrigerated for later.
- Homemade Teething Biscuits – Though most toddlers are finished cutting their teeth, these teething biscuits are so tasty that the older kids and grown-ups might end up fighting over them! The recipe is simple: Slices of whole wheat bread are laid on a pan and cut into nine squares each. These should be baked in a 200° F oven for about an hour. They will be very crunchy when done and can be stored in an airtight contained for two weeks – if they last that long!
- Simple Fruit Smoothie – This healthy drink can be great for snack time or when a hungry toddler presents shortly before dinner will be ready. To make, equal parts of 100% fruit juice and yogurt (plain or flavored) are poured into a cup with a lid. The cup is shaken to combine the juice and yogurt, and it’s ready to drink.
When serving meals and snacks to toddlers, it’s important to make sure that all food is cut to a size that will not pose a choking hazard. Most fruits and vegetables should be peeled since even cut peels are hard for little teeth to chew and may become lodged in the throat. Some of these snack ideas include foods that may cause an allergic reaction in some children. Use your best judgment when deciding what to serve!