Toddlers have small tummies and get hungry between meals, so they often need snacks to keep them energized all day long. But not just any snack will do. It’s easy to reach for packaged treats at snack time—like cookies, cereal bars, muffins and chips—but these options don’t provide the nutrients that kids need for optimal growth and development. Instead, they often have too much salt and sugar. A snack should be made up of the same foods found in their daily meals, and should include both protein (such as eggs, beans, yogurt and nuts) and fibre-rich carbs (think vegetables, fruits and whole grains). Here are eight snacks that toddlers love and are easy for parents to make.
1. Parfait party
If you have yogurt and fruit on hand, you’ve got everything you need to make a parfait. Use a transparent glass or bowl so your child can marvel at the layers, and add some granola on top. Choose calcium-rich plain Greek yogurt, which has more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Kids will love these kiwi yogurt cups.
2. Tuna and crackers
Mash tuna with mayo and serve with toast or whole grain crackers. Use light skipjack or yellowfin tuna instead of white albacore tuna, because it’s lower in mercury. Tuna is full of healthy omega-3 fats, which are important for your toddler’s brain health.
3. Veggies and dip
Having trouble getting kids to eat veggies at meals? Try introducing them at snacks, when kids are super hungry. Pair them with a dip like hummus or tzatziki to ensure that there’s some muscle-fuelling protein. The dip may be the key to getting your kids to eat more veggies.
These green soybean pods take time to pop and eat, so they are a fun activity and a nutritious snack rolled into one! Edamame also contain fibre (four grams per ½ cup), which is important for preventing constipation and is lacking in many toddlers’ diets.
5. Ants on a log
This snack is old-school, but toddlers still love celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Of course, you could also try a modern remake: hollowed-out cucumbers filled with sunflower butter and dried cherries. With either version, kids will get some vegetables, plus a winning combination of protein, fibre and healthy fat.
6. Fruit with nutty dip
Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe and cut grapes are fun to dip. Fruit is filled with vitamins A and C, which help ensure normal immune functioning. For a protein boost, make a dip out of Greek yogurt, nut butter, cinnamon and a small ribbon of honey.
7. Trail mix
Toddlers can help you mix dried fruit, nuts, seeds and crunchy roasted chickpeas. Trail mix offers a great combination of energy from carbs, plus fat and protein to provide long-lasting fullness. Just be sure to brush kids’ teeth afterwards so sticky dried fruit doesn’t lead to cavities.
8. Vegetable chips
Does your toddler love crunchy snacks? Substitute regular potato chips or pretzels with homemade baked zucchini chips and kale chips, which are lower in salt, and provide fibre, vitamins A and C, and folate.