Parents of toddlers often wonder if their kids are getting enough to eat. It’s an understandable concern. Toddlers have growing bodies and require adequate nutrition for optimal health.
However, some kids at this age may seem too busy exploring the world to slow down and eat. Others may be fickle about food or refuse to eat what’s served at mealtimes. Toddlers benefit from eating a variety of healthy foods, but often don’t eat a lot at one sitting. That’s where snacks come in.
“Toddlers may need multiple snacks throughout the day to fill nutritional gaps at mealtimes and keep their tiny tummies full,” said Lindsay Bailey, a registered dietitian in Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology. “Healthy snacks can help balance out an uneven diet, and they tide toddlers over between meals to keep them from getting so hungry that they become cranky.”
Not to mention, healthy, well-timed snacks can help you boost the intake of nutrients your toddler needs when you serve fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein and calcium-rich foods.
In addition, snacks give children an opportunity to try new foods in a less structured environment compared to mealtimes.
“It’s important for parents to lead by example when introducing new foods, and to eat the foods themselves,” Lindsay explained. “Normalizing foods help children gain an acceptance for them.”
Making a snack schedule part of your toddler’s routine can help maximize healthy habits. Most toddlers do well with 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day – perhaps mid-morning, mid-afternoon and again after dinner, if necessary.
Lindsay offers 10 kid-friendly snack ideas for toddlers. So fun and tasty, kids won’t even know these snacks are healthy – and you don’t have to tell them either.
- Kebabs made with cheese and fresh fruit cut into fun shapes.
- Homemade yogurt pops made with chunks of fresh fruit.
- Strawberry and peanut butter roll-ups.
- “Fruit nachos” made with layers of apple slices and topped with yogurt, honey and berries.
- Homemade sweet potato and other root vegetable chips.
- Cucumber shapes topped with a thin layer of cream cheese.
- Half a banana rolled in yogurt and crushed cereal.
- Fruit dip made with Greek yogurt and 1 tsp. honey, maple syrup or fruit preserves for an extra kick. Serve with fresh fruit.
- Veggie dip made with plain Greek yogurt and ranch seasoning. Serve with fresh-cut vegetables, such as cucumbers, zucchini or grape tomatoes.
- Mini quesadillas made with black beans and cheddar cheese stuffed in a whole grain tortilla.
Keep in mind, there are several foods that can be choking hazards for toddlers. Don’t offer your child under the age of 3 nuts and seeds; fruit with pits, seeds or skin; hot dogs; popcorn; or raw carrots or celery.