Toddlers seem to snack more than they eat actual meals. The challenge lies, therein, on feeding the nutrients needed during meal time to a small human who wants to eat every-single moment of the day that is not meal time. This is something I think about when shopping for my own children, counseling patients, and late at night when I am going over my mental check-list before I go to bed each night. My son also has allergies to nuts and legumes so I am required to get a little more creative than ants on a log, which I will totally speak to later on in this post.
- Cereal: That is right, nothing new here! Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Life, Frosted mini-wheats, Kix. These are all easy to portion out and take as on the go snacks that require no refrigeration or heating to serve. This category is broad, but you can tailor it is dietary needs: for those that need gluten free or have little ones that haven’t quite developed safe swallowing skills (Cheerios), something a little more hearty (shredded wheat) and Raisin Bran is almost like a toddler version of a trail mix sans nuts! Don’t forget that eating is multi-purpose, Kix (one at a time) can help mature fine motor skills.
Veggie Straws: As a registered dietitian it pains me to no end to see veggies straws promoted and esteemed above baked lays. The same emotions flood over me when people tout ghee or grass-fed Irish butter and poo-poo butter. THEY ARE THE ONE AND THE SAME! (quietly slips off of soap box) Instead, I must shine a spotlight on Pea Crisps. I cannot say enough about these little green guys! Not only are they high in protein and cholesterol free, but they are also an actual vegetable!
- Squeeze-packs: Applesauce, fruit and vegetable blends, and (my children’s favorite) the yogurt and fruit pack. If you need a little more staying power there are also packs that incorporate grains, beans, and animal proteins. The stable self-life here makes loading a diaper bag or glove compartment with a few of these a no-brainer.
- Beef-Jerky: the diet of a toddler consists mainly of dairy and grains, offering beef/turkey/vensison/tofu-jerky to your toddler while you are out and about provides the opportunity to introduce new textures and flavors while providing the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for proper growth and development.
- Dried Fruit: Whether it is raisins or freeze-dried pear, dried fruit allows you to stick fruit in your diaper bag without worrying about washing fruit, having a knife to cut/peel it, and waiting for it to be at the appropriate ripeness before eating.
- Seaweed: Salty and crunchy, plus it provides Calcium, Protein, Magenesium, Iron, Vitamin K, and more!
- Yogurt tubes: Chilled or Frozen, these are a great treat for children. Calcium and protein can be disguised as a cold summer-time treat by serving it frozen. Almond-milk based yogurt tubes are now available and are a great option for your littles with dairy allergies.
- String Cheese: a solid, all-around choice when it comes to snacking- cheese! These days, the options are endless when it comes to type of cheese stick. Enjoy a picnic or toddler happy hour by sharing a charcuterie tray with your mini me!
- Turkey roll-ups: Whatever deli-meat you buy can by substituted here. My son was never a big meat eater when he was young, but he would eat rolled up turkey. It’s funny how the setting of what your child is eating really alters acceptance.
- Ants on a log: The aforementioned ants on a log, of course, must be included. This can be done on a celery stalk, banana sliced horizontally, or a cut up apple. After selecting your produce, schmear it with a nut butter of your choice. The nut butter can be topped with raisins, dried coconut, or chocolate chips. Let your child assist with the creating. Assisting with food preparations increases the likelihood of the child not only trying out new foods, but also going on to enjoy them.