7 Dietitian-Approved Snacks for Toddlers (That Big Kids Love Too)

a mom and her toddler enjoying a healthy toddler snack iStock

We’ve got new spins on old classics that are sure to keep your littles full between meals

Nobody tells you when you’re expecting that you might want to consider diverting some savings into a ‘snack trust’ alongside that college fund. As all toddler parents know, snacking is a lifestyle, and it’s seemingly never-ending. Your wallet will weep as your grocery cart piles high with brightly colored packaged snacks and loads of fruit (are there ever enough berries?!)

But all jokes aside, there are ways to make snack time work harder by turning it into a power-packed, energy-boosting bridge between meals. And while I appreciate the convenience of packaged snacks, my go-to move as a mom and pediatric registered dietitian is whipping up mini meals that use pantry and fridge staples. It’s not just wallet-friendly; it’s also more sustainable and keeps everyone happy and well-fed. These 7 healthy toddler snacks are perfect for kids who are past the “first foods” stage (think 2-ish and up, depending on the toddler) and great for older kids, too. Loaded with fiber, fats, and protein, they’ll keep your littles fueled and satisfied between meals. Plus, they’re fun!

1. Tea-Party Sandwiches

I usually suggest avoiding distractions at mealtime, but let’s face it, there are moments when your kid just needs some extra comfort from their favorite doll or stuffed animal. How about turning up snack time with a tea party? Encourage your little one to invite their special guest and whip up some mini sandwiches or open-faced toast triangles. The options are limitless but fan favorites include: avocado toasts, peanut butter and jelly, cream cheese and jam, or grilled cheese. If your kiddo needs a more interactive choice, cut bread into strips and offer dips such as hummus, guacamole, or creamy peanut butter. Pop some berries on the table as a centerpiece and you’re snacking like royalty.

2. Yogurt Parfaits

Yogurt is a total kid-pleaser and I totally get why: it can turn into a crunchy, creamy treat with the right toppings. When you’re picking yogurt, opt for the Greek variety because it has extra protein that will keep your littles energized and satiated. Toss in some nutrient-packed mix-ins like diced fresh fruit, whole grain cereal, chia or hemp seeds, and ground nuts. Mix and match these goodies to create yummy parfait-style layers or, even better, let your kids take charge and construct their own delicious creations!

apple sandwiches are an easy snack

3. Apple Sandwiches

Two thin slices of apple can be transformed into all kinds of tasty mini sandwiches. You can fill them with peanut butter and raisins a la ants on a log (which is still a great snack for older kids—peanut butter spread on a celery stick with raisins lining the top), cheddar cheese, or open-face with yogurt and ground nuts. For a sweet surprise, add some mini chocolate chips to the mix. These little sammies pack some protein, so they help your kids stay full for longer and buy you a little more time before “I need a snaaack” starts echoing through the house again.

4. Yogurt Bark

Sometimes the trick is jazzing up the same old snack. Take yogurt, for instance. Instead of serving it with a spoon, a few easy steps can turn it into a yummy bark. Spread a thin layer of yogurt on a baking sheet and add toppings like fresh fruit, freeze-dried berries, mini chocolate chips, ground nuts, chia seeds—almost any toddler-safe ingredient works (and it’s especially soothing if they’re teething). Pop it in the freezer, give it time to freeze solid, and then break it into pieces while you watch your kids go bananas for it!

5. Banana Sushi

This kiddie fave is a sweet spin on classic sushi. Grab a whole-grain tortilla, spread a thin layer of nut butter, plop down a whole banana, and roll it all up. Slice it into cute little rounds and watch your kids run to the table with delight. Your toddler may deconstruct each piece and eat it that way, but that’s totally fine! If you feel like shaking things up a bit, skip the sushi roll and embrace taco vibes. It’s the same drill: add a thin layer of nut butter to a whole grain tortilla but this time add sliced bananas to the center. Fold it up like a taco and snack time just got even more exciting.

6. Fruit Kabobs

Kids are all about bite-sized snacks, and when you add a stick to the equation, you’ve got a guaranteed winner. One of the more entertaining snacks is fruit kabobs. Simply slice up some fresh fruit and cheese and layer them on skewers—or chopsticks, which are better for younger kids since they don’t have pointy ends. Create a fruity rainbow with a colorful variety of strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, and watermelon! For an extra touch of fun, throw in some Cheerios or marshmallows (for older kids, age 4+).

two kids drinking smoothies
iStock

7. Smoothies

Smoothies are the real MVP of quick and easy kid-approved snacks. Throw in some Greek yogurt or nut butter for that protein punch, add chia seeds or ground flaxseed for a healthy dose of fat and brain-boosting omega 3s, and go wild with fruits and veggies. Opt for mild-tasting veg like spinach or zucchini – you’ll get all the good stuff without compromising flavor. Want to win Mom of the Year? Add some dragon fruit to turn your concoction a cartoonish shade of pink.

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