Toddlers may need multiple snacks throughout the day to fill nutritional gaps at mealtimes and keep their tiny tummies full. Not only do healthy snacks help prevent “hangry” outbursts, they also let them try new foods in a less structured environment compared to mealtime.
Many pediatricians recommend parents offer their child a healthy snack in the mid-morning, afternoon and before bedtime. However, Lindsay Bailey, a registered dietitian in Akron Children’s center for diabetes and endocrinology, said snacking for toddlers isn’t so black and white.
“Timing is everything,” she said. “Too many snacks or snacks close to mealtimes may inhibit a toddler from eating their meals. Making a snack schedule part of a routine can help maximize healthy habits.”
The snacks you offer should have lean proteins and carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. If your toddler missed a food group at his last mealtime, it’s a great time to make that up in his snack.
Lindsay offers these 10 healthy snack ideas for your toddler.
- 1. Scrambled eggs with cheese and cooked diced peppers
- 2. Cucumbers topped with a thin layer of cream cheese
- 3. Half a banana rolled in yogurt and crushed cereal
- 4. Whole-grain crackers, pretzels or pita chips with cheese slices
- 5. A yogurt smoothie made with yogurt, milk, ice and their favorite fruit
- 6. A deli turkey or ham and cheese roll up
- 7. Peeled apple slices with yogurt dip
- 8. Vegetable sticks, such as zucchini or cucumbers, with hummus or low-fat Ranch dressing for dipping
- 9. Yogurt topped with their favorite fruit
- 10. Graham crackers and applesauce for dipping, with a glass of milk
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.