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Best Quick, Healthy Snacks for Toddlers
January 5, 2024

Best Quick, Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

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Best Quick, Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

Toddlerhood is an adventurous time for your little one. All the walking, running, climbing and playing they’re learning to do keeps their little bodies busy, and to make sure they’re properly fueled, pediatricians recommend toddlers eat three meals and two to three snacks per day, on average.

Just like the full-sized meals you give your toddler, their snacks should be nutrient-dense. Think of each snack time as a mini meal—plenty of vitamins and minerals, not just empty calories.

Short on time and energy? We get it, making three meals and two to three snacks for your toddler every day, plus making sure they’re healthy foods, is a lot of meal prep. You already do enough as a parent, so don’t fret about making elaborate snacks (half of which may end up on the floor anyway)—all of the ideas on this list are meant to be prepped quickly and easily with minimal cleanup.

When looking for quick, healthy snack ideas for your toddler, there are a three important things to keep in mind:

  • Choking hazards. Until your toddler’s molars have come in and they’ve mastered the jaw movements needed for chewing (sometimes not until they’re three or four years old), avoid foods that are:
    • Hard: raw fruits and vegetables (for carrots, apples, etc, make sure they’re cooked until soft), granola, hard candy, pretzels and nuts
    • Chewy: tough or chewy meats (including hot dogs and sausages), gummy candy, chewing gum, dried fruits, marshmallows and nut butters (more on how to give your toddler peanut butter below)
    • Larger than bite size: especially whole grapes, cherries and cherry tomatoes (be sure to cut these into lengthwise quarters)
    • Crumbly, or small enough to be missed when chewing: especially seeds, including those in whole grain breads.
  • Common food allergies. If you haven’t tested your toddler for certain food allergies yet, give them only small amounts at a time, and not with any other foods. Watch closely for any reactions, and report any reactions to their pediatrician.
  • Added sugar. If you’re giving your toddler store bought snacks, keep an eye on the nutrition label. Added sugar isn’t recommended for children under two years old, and children older than two shouldn’t have more than 25 grams of added sugar per day. But keep in mind that that doesn’t include natural sugars like those found in fresh fruit and many other healthy foods.

Can toddlers have peanut butter?

Nut butters, including peanut butter, are a tricky food for toddlers for several reasons. It’s one of the most common (and dangerous) food allergies, and it’s considered a choking hazard because it can get stuck inside the airways when swallowed in larger amounts.

If you’ve already tested your toddler for nut allergies and determined that they won’t cause any reaction, the best way to feed your toddler peanut butter or any other nut butter is to spread it very thinly on bite-sized pieces of bread or soft fruits. Never give your toddler globs or spoonfuls of peanut butter, and remember that peanut butter is still a choking hazard even for adults.

Best Snacks for Toddlers

Even if your toddler is really active, their tummy is still tiny compared to an adult’s—they only need 1,000 to 1,400 total calories per day (about 36 calories per pound per day). So don’t overload their plates at meals, and keep their snack size to about what would fit inside a snack cup. And be sure to keep everything bite-sized (toddler bites, not grown-up bites), no bigger than one to two centimeter slices or half-inch chunks.

Whether you go for store bought snacks or homemade, there are a ton of healthy options out there, and a wide enough variety to please any picky eater. Here’s a big list of easy, healthy snacks for toddlers:

Fruits

  • Apples, peeled and cored
  • Applesauce
  • Avocado, peeled and pit removed
  • Banana slices
  • Blackberries, large ones cut in half
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries, cut into lengthwise/vertical quarters (sort of almond-shaped)
  • Grapes, cut into lengthwise/vertical quarters (sort of almond-shaped)
  • Kiwi fruit, peeled
  • Mandarins and clementines, peeled with as much of the pith removed as possible, then separate the slices
  • Melons, all seeds removed
  • Peaches, fresh or canned
  • Pears and mango, fresh or canned
  • Raspberries, large ones cut in half
  • Strawberries, remove tops and cut into quarters

Veggies and Legumes

  • Beans, cooked until soft enough to mash
  • Broccoli, cooked until soft and large stalks separated
  • Carrots, cooked until soft or, if your toddler has their molars, left raw in very thin matchstick slices
  • Cauliflower, cooked until soft and large stalks separated
  • Cherry tomatoes, cut into lengthwise/vertical quarters (sort of almond-shaped)
  • Cucumber, peeled
  • Edamame/soy beans, steamed, removed from pods and mashed
  • Peas
  • Potatoes, peeled and cooked until soft enough to mash
  • Pumpkin, all seeds removed and cooked until soft
  • Sweet potatoes, peeled cooked until soft
  • Zucchini and squash, peeled and cooked until soft

Dairy

  • Cheese (mild varieties like cheddar, provolone and mozzarella), cut into small matchsticks—cubes can be too chewy for young toddlers, and string cheese could present a choking hazard
  • Cottage cheese, whole fat
  • Milk, whole fat
  • Yogurt, whole fat, regular or Greek

Grains

  • Bread/sandwich slices, especially with a thin spread of nut butter or mashed avocado
  • Crackers, whole wheat, but only the soft kind that are easy to bite into (not hard, super crunch crackers)
  • Muffins, especially with fruit (but no nuts, since they’re hidden and could be a choking hazard)
  • Pancakes, whole wheat
  • Waffles, whole wheat

Protein

  • Chicken, boneless, skinless and cooked thoroughly, cut into small pieces without stringy parts or cartilage
  • Deli meats
  • Eggs, thoroughly cooked as hard boiled, scrambled, omelettes or egg muffins (add cheese and veggies, but be aware of any large chunks that may be tough to chew)
  • Fish, only low-mercury types like tilapia, salmon, trout and crab, skinless and cooked thoroughly, ensuring all bones are removed
  • Ground beef, thoroughly cooked and diced into small pieces
  • Hummus
  • Nut butters, spread thinly and only after having tested your toddler for nut allergies
  • Turkey, boneless, skinless and cooked thoroughly, cut into small pieces without stringy parts or cartilage

Pre-Packaged

Be sure to give your toddler a variety of food groups at each snack time. That doesn’t mean a huge portion, though; just a few bites of each different food. Pro tip: serve fruits, veggies and crackers with dips like hummus, guacamole and greek yogurt or spread a very thin layer of nut butter to get more food groups in (and make it fun for your little one to dip and dunk).


Amylia Ryan

Associate Editor

Amylia Ryan is the Associate Editor at Babylist, specializing in the topics of health, wellness and lifestyle products. Combining nearly a decade of experience in writing and editing with a deep passion for helping people, her number one goal in her work is to ensure new parents feel supported and understood. She herself is a parent to two young children, who are more than willing to help product test endless toys, books, clothes, toiletries and more.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.