Snacks are the in between foods, the sorry-we’re-not-quite-there-yet filler, the I-really-hope-this-makes-you-happier-kiddo option. And I’ve definitely experienced the toddler retort to this, which is “I don’t want that, I want DINNER!” So I’ve divided this list into the most optimal situation it should be paired with – because there’s really quite a range in both the form and function of snacks; from exploring to belly-filling to on-the-go entertainment.
1. THE SUPER SNACK
Tiny Ploughman’s lunch
I’m always impressed at how well little mouths can devour a cracker. A cheese square. Or a piece of fruit. And most of us grown-ups would be quite happy to graze on a plate of cheese and crackers, with some fruit for a dash of sweetness. So here’s the toddler version (i.e. no wine included, sorry kiddies!):
Ingredients: (choose from)
- Cubed, unprocessed hard cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, swiss)
- Cheese curds
- Cubed melon (cantaloupe, honeydew)
- Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Sliced Pears or Apples
- Seedless Grapes
- Fig, Kiwi
- Dried Apricot, Apple
- Cherry tomato
- Whole grain crackers, saltines, Carr’s whole grain crackers, other of choice
- Baguette pieces (even for younger babies, baguettes are so gummable)
2. THE LET’S EXPLORE (AND MAYBE GET A LITTLE STICKY) SNACK
Whole Pear, Banana, Orange
If you haven’t done it yet, give your toddler a half-peeled banana and encourage him/her to hold it on their own. And take a bite. You will die, it’s so damn adorable.
A few weeks ago I posted about how Raquel was really enjoying eating fruit in it’s natural state – and how impressed I was at how she could navigate a whole half-peeled orange, a started banana, or ‘topless’ pear (I cut the stem part off.)
Plus, when she’s in her high chair and free to explore with her hands, teeth, and motor skills – I’m free to cook.
As I said in the other post, I think our little ones are actually better at eating this way than we give them credit for. Food is the original puzzle, the most intricate Tonka toy!
3. THE PORTABLE, IRRESISTIBLE, AFTER NAP SNACK
Raquel has become quite accustomed to the little sandwiches Jason makes for her. And I understand why. They’re delicious!
- Almond or cashew butter and No-sugar added fruit preserves (blueberry and fig jams have been popular)
- OR tuna
- OR chopped egg
- OR cream cheese (with jam is yummy too.)
- OR hummous and tomato
- A soft whole grain bread (experiment with natural breads that your kid seems to take to.)
- OR pita
- OR bagel
Directions: Lightly toast, spread the almond butter, then the jam, put the top bread on, then cut to toddler appropriate size – we still cube her sandwiches, most days, but sandwich sticks or small squares or triangles are also great.
4. THE FIVE ALARM FIRE OOPS I DIDN’T BRING ANYTHING SNACK
We’re pretty (okay, quite) picky with ingredient lists, and generally haven’t used many packaged products because of the amount of sugar, nasty ingredients, or processing, but the ingredients of the PC Organics Mini Cereal Bars are fantastic (all organic, cane sugar, brown rice flour, etc.) and um, they’ve saved us more than a few times now. Our diaper bag is LINED with these puppies.
If you are choosing another brand, do make sure to scan the ingredients. I’ve found HORRIBLE things in Gerber brand snacks. I don’t think babies should eat Carnauba Wax, you know? (Another post on this to come later in the snack series) And while I love the idea of dried fuit snacks, many of those fruit rolls and gummies are really high in sugar.
5. Apple sauce or yogurt with banana or puffed wheat – The learning to spoon snack!
I think yogurt is a go-to snack for most of us, but it’s usually a messy one. Not the best choice for the car, obviously. At home, there are a few ways to have fun with a yogurt snack. These are pretty hit and miss – some days, you’ll see those tiny fingers picking out the banana like it was a gross spider, other days – devoured. Now that Raquel is 14 mos, she’ll pretty much tell me if she wants anything ‘extra’ in her yogurt with her body language when I offer it.
I’m all about the ‘what do you think of THIS?!’ approach and don’t really care what the outcome is… it’s just fun to watch her face as she tries new things!
6. THE MILDLY ENTERTAINING SNACK FOR THE NOT TOO HUNGRY TUMMY
Toddler Trail mix
This is a good option for in the stroller. Especially if you’ve got a good snack tray.
I’m a little bit obsessed with making a healthy toddler trail mix, and this is the closest I’ve come so far. But I’m still working on it! And please add your suggestions!
One part each (or choose from):
- Dried cranberries
- Dried currents
- Cheerios/Oatie-O’s/puffed wheat – *Kashi or Nature’s path have some good options. Stay tuned for another post on this topic though.
- Bran sticks
- Diced dried apples and apricots
- Pumpkin seeds
- Too few teeth? Blanche the dried fruit first, and cut into smaller pieces. You can also substitute mum-mum cracker pieces for younger toddlers and babies.
- Dried fruit comes back out? Not a problem really, it’s just the skin being rejected. My daughter still spits the shell of the raisin back out, but she devours the dried cranberries.
- Pumpkin seeds, really? As the baby led weaning community assures us, if he/she can’t manage it or doesn’t like it, it will “come back out”. Probably with a loving or a not-so-loving scowl ; ) Try these weelicious maple roasted ones too, if you’re near an oven and have some extra time. (Maybe next year some time?)
*I’d like to also include a list of fantastic links to other snack posts, but there really isn’t much out there!! Please add your own favorites in the comments or on Facebook.