Sometimes toddlers can appear to have a busier routine than their parents! And with all their playing and rapid growth, it’s important to provide snacks that can help fill their energy and nutrient needs. When planning snacks for your toddler, aim to include two food groups whenever possible. Snacks should enhance your little one’s overall healthy eating plan and provide an opportunity to increase access and exposure to nutritional foods. Additionally, it’s important to schedule time for snacks and to avoid snacking all day. This will encourage mindfulness and help lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship with food. Sitting down for snack time can also decrease choking risks, since toddlers especially are at increased risk for choking when eating on the go.
Below are five registered dietitian-approved snack ideas straight from the kitchen of one of our Kroger dietitians and moms:
1. Veggie Crisps + Hummus: Swap crunchy and salty snack foods for veggie crisps made from green peas. These crisps are a plant-based source of protein and deliver 4 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber is a carbohydrate the body does not digest, meaning it adds roughage to the digestive tract. Not only will this help your kiddo stay regular, but it also promotes feelings of fullness sooner and for longer. Pair crisps with hummus, a Mediterranean-style spread or dip made from blended chickpeas. This nutrient-dense dip offers an additional source of protein and fiber, as well as key vitamins and minerals including folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. A single container of hummus may entice your toddler and get them excited to try legumes in a unique way.
2. Freeze-Dried Fruit + Cheese: If you’re looking for a snack that can be thrown in the diaper bag, freeze-dried fruit is a good go-to. A mixed bag of freeze-dried strawberries and bananas with zero added sugar packs a sweet crunch and is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium. Potassium is particularly important for active children, as it works to maintain hydration and support normal body growth. Pair this sweet snack with a childhood favorite – cheese. Keep with the theme of a tasty travel snack by purchasing individually wrapped cheese, such as string cheese, mini Babybel semisoft cheese or cheese squares. All are excellent sources of bone-building calcium, which helps to promote strong, healthy bones and teeth.
3. Greek Yogurt: Support your child’s gut and digestive health with Greek yogurt. Yogurt is a fermented food that provides a healthy dose of probiotics or live microorganisms that, when ingested, increase the population of desirable bacteria in the gut. Research suggests regular consumption of probiotic-containing foods may improve gastrointestinal health, specifically decreasing instances of constipation and diarrhea. Probiotic intake may also enhance your child’s immune system and even shorten the duration of certain illnesses. In comparison with traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained, making it higher in protein. It’s also much thicker than traditional yogurt, so it may stay on the spoon and decrease messes – but no promises there! Doctor up plain Greek yogurt by mixing in nut butter or thawed frozen fruit. Top with chia or hemp seeds for an added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Fruit + Hard-boiled Egg: Combine a piece of fruit with a hard-boiled egg for a simple, whole-food snack. While preparing a batch of hard-boiled eggs is relatively simple, peeled and ready-to-eat options are also available as a convenience product. Eggs supply many important nutrients for your growing toddler. Most notably, one large egg contains 150 milligrams of choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and development. Since many children do not get the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables per day, it’s a good idea to pair this snack with a juicy and easy-to-peel mandarin. This tiny fruit packs a juicy flavor burst and 23 milligrams of vitamin C, which is over 60% of your toddler’s vitamin C requirement for the day. Vitamin C is a powerful immune-supporting antioxidant that may protect their little body from diseases.
5. All-in-One Snack: There is no denying the popularity of granola bars amongst toddlers, but it can be challenging to find options without added sugars. Simple Truth™ Peanut Butter Cookie Date Bars are great grab-and-go bars made from 3 simple ingredients: nuts, dates and a sprinkle of sea salt for flavor. Peanuts are a source of healthy unsaturated fats, making this a nutrient-dense snack and an excellent source of calories for when you’re worried about your kiddo getting enough to eat. Additionally, the primary ingredient is dates, which are high in disease-fighting antioxidants that may deliver brain-boosting properties. RXBAR Kids Strawberry Protein Bars are another great option made from dates.
These snacks aren’t just for toddlers; your whole family can enjoy them! This can help decrease overall food waste and bring flexibility to your food budget. Sharing a snack may even increase your toddler’s acceptance of healthy foods, building a foundation for a positive relationship with food and nutrition.