5 RD And Toddler Approved Snacks
by Laura N. Brown, MS, RD, LDN, ACSM-CPT
Last Updated: April 6, 2021
Sometimes toddlers appear to have a busier routine than their parents! And with all their playing and rapid growth, snacks can help fill their energy and nutrient needs. When planning snacks, 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, schedule time for snacks and avoid snacking all day to encourage mindfulness and help lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship with food. Sitting down for snack time decreases choking risk, as toddlers are at increased risk for choking when eating on the go.
Below are 5 RD approved snack ideas straight from the kitchen of one of our Kroger Health Dietitians and Mom:
- 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. 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. Additionally, this fiber has the potential to decrease endless snacking. Pair crisps with hummus, a Mediterranean style spread or dip primarily 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, getting them excited to try legumes in a unique way.
- If you are looking for a snack stable enough to be thrown in the diaper bag, freeze-dried fruit is a good go-to. A mixed bag of zero added sugar freeze-dried strawberries and bananas packs a sweet crunch and is an excellent vitamin C and potassium source. 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 Baybell semisoft cheese, or cheese squares. All are excellent sources of bone-building calcium, which helps to promote strong, healthy bones and teeth.
- 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 to traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained, making it higher in protein. It is 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.
- 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, 1 large egg contains 150 mg of choline, essential nutrition for brain health and development. Since many children do not get the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables per day, pair with a juicy and easy to peel mandarin. This tiny fruit packs a juicy flavor burst and 23 mg of vitamin C, which is over 60% of your toddler’s vitamin C requirements for the day. Vitamin C is a powerful immune-supporting antioxidant that may protect their little body from diseases.
- Sometimes, mama needs an easy, 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 a great grab-and-go bar 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 dense snack and an excellent source of calories for when you are worried if your kiddo is getting enough to eat. Additionally, the primary ingredient is dates, which are high in disease-fighting antioxidants that may deliver brain-boosting properties. Rx Kids Strawberry Bars are another great option made from dates.
These snacks are not just for toddlers; your whole family can enjoy them! This can help decrease overall food waste and gives 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.
For more personalized tips on creating a healthy food environment for your family, schedule a free nutrition session with a Kroger registered dietitian.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.