4 Tips for Making Easy, Nutritious Snacks for Moms and Toddlers

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 3 minutes

What to know about choosing nutritious snacks for you and your child

  • Snacks can be a great way to add more nutrients into your diet

  • Learn 4 tips to help put together a nourishing, quick snack

  • Snack ideas for you and your toddler

Snacks often get a bad rap, with the assumption that they’re typically sweet or salty “filler foods” that don’t offer much nutrient density. But the fact is, snacks can play an important role in helping us meet our nutrient needs and stay satisfied between meals.1

And for busy, on-the-go moms and active, growing toddlers, that’s really important!

Here are four tips to help you choose satisfying, healthful snacks for you and your toddler.

*Be sure to only offer foods to your toddler in the size and texture you know they can eat safely. The below ideas include allergens such as milk, eggs, nuts, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, wheat, soy, and sesame; however, be sure to avoid any foods your child is allergic to. Chat with your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about allergens.

#1. Make it a combination snack

Having a combination of a complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains, along with a protein and/or healthy fat can help give you both immediate nutrient-packed energy as well as lasting fullness.5,6

Complex carbohydrates to choose include: Fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, whole grain high fiber crackers, quinoa, or brown rice.

Proteins and/or healthy fats to choose include: nut butters*, nuts*, hummus, beans, avocado, yogurt, cheese stick, canned salmon, etc. 

*For your toddler, a thin layer of non-chunky nut butter is advisable, versus a spoonful, to help prevent choking.4 Whole nuts are not advisable to offer children under 4 years.7

Read more: Preventing Choking in Infants and Toddlers

#2. Include Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies not only provide energy but also lots of nutrients. Plus, many of us could benefit from including more fruits and vegetables in our daily diet, as most Americans are not meeting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.2,3

Snack time offers a great opportunity to include more produce in your and your child’s diet. Think apples, pears, cherry tomatoes, tangerines, and bananas – all portable “fast food” for mom and perfect if cut up for your toddler.

Make sure to cut up small circular fruits (like grapes, tomatoes, etc.) and veggies into small pieces for your toddler, to help avoid any choking hazards.4,7

Cut your produce in advance or buy pre-cut versions, so you have it ready to grab and go in your fridge. Sliced green, red, and yellow peppers and cut up mango and melon are also nice to keep on a shelf in the fridge for an easy-to-grab snack.

Read more: Meal Plan: How to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

#3. Think of a snack as a mini meal

No need to forego foods that you normally eat at meals in favor of more traditional packaged snacks.

Got some leftover roasted veggies from dinner? Those can be a great snack paired with a cheese stick or some nuts. Got leftover meatballs? Have a few with some veggies for a snack.

Read more: Nutritious Snack Ideas during Pregnancy

#4. Keep a variety of snacks on hand

Many packaged foods are nutrient-dense!

Keep yogurt cups, cheese sticks, kefir, no-sugar-added fruit cups, frozen fruit, mixed nuts (for adults), and fruit and nut bars on hand for when hunger strikes.

Read more: Strategies for Creating a Healthy Kitchen for Your Family

Simple snack ideas for you and your toddler

Remembering the combination of a complex carbohydrate plus a protein or healthy fat, here are some flavorful, satisfying snack examples:

  • Plain yogurt + blueberries (or other berries) + ground flax seeds

  • Whole grain pita bread + sliced cucumbers + hummus

  • Cheese stick + orange or apple

  • Almond butter + banana

  • Avocado toast

  • ½ whole grain English muffin pizza with shredded carrots

  • ½ whole grain tortilla with smear of refried beans + chopped bell pepper

  • Hard-boiled egg + whole grain crackers + tomatoes

  • Edamame + corn + bell pepper with salad dressing

  • Cottage cheese + cut melon

Don't forget to avoid choking hazards

The following is a list of foods that are not suitable for children under the age of 4, due to the risk of choking:4,7

  • Hot dogs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Chunks of meat or cheese

  • Whole grapes

  • Hard or sticky candy

  • Popcorn

  • Chunks of peanut butter

  • Chunks of raw vegetables

  • Chewing gum

Bottom Line

By planning ahead and stocking your kitchen and fridge with easy, delicious snack ideas you’ll always be ready when hunger hits.

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For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Nutritious and Easy Postpartum Snacks

Meal Plan for 12 Month Old Toddlers

8 Tips for Simple, Quick, Healthy Cooking

Healthy Snacks for Babies and Toddlers

Family Meals: Developing Healthy Eating Patterns