Don't know what snacks to prepare for a toddler? Don't have a lot of time? These easy and nutritious snack ideas are made from mainly veggies and meats—aka superfoods! (P.S. Learn why meats are so great for babies here).
It can sometimes be challenging for parents to come up with healthy and nutritious recipes for young toddlers (what feels like constantly since they are growing little bottomless pits!). Developmental changes are continually happening in their tiny brains and bodies while they are also trying to practice independence and control; cue a busy little—potentially hangry—kiddo with big feelings erupting, big changes kicking in, and a big appetite coming on.
Do you ever feel like your snack time inspo and creativity are hitting a wall? Maybe that coming up with new healthy ideas feels like a chore? *same* ...feeding toddlers can really suck sometimes. You work so hard to find the right foods, arrange them artistically on a plate (maybe even make it pretty for the 'gram), and then, BOOM—your little threenager is pissed you cut the hot dog the wrong way. *cue meltdown* Next thing you know, your masterpiece is scattered all over the freshly cleaned floor—parenthood, #AmIRight!? We can neither confirm nor deny that this has happened to us...more than once (sigh).
"Besides bedtime, feeding time is the most challenging part of parenting a toddler. And at least half the meals we seem to make Della don't even get eaten. Sooooo frustrating! Because mealtimes can be disastrous/messy/frustrating for everyone, snack time is critical for a toddler's diet. And no need for mommy/daddy guilt—if your toddler is getting high nutritional value foods all during the day, the pressure is off for anyone meal," says Serenity Kids Co-Founder and daddio, Joe Carr.
Because of the stress that often accompanies toddlers' snack/mealtime, we put together the ultimate guide to easy and healthy snack ideas for them (and you). We hope these ideas will re-inspire you in the kitchen, make your life easier, and give you a mini parenting win pat on the back for choosing quality snacks for your little one(s). The good news? You 1000% do NOT have to be a "Pinterest Mom" to hit a home run on simple snacks and meals that fuel a busy toddler (and offer nutritious, nourishing options free from additives, sugars, and saturated fats.)
Looking for more ideas beyond snack time? We interviewed a dietitian to create this awesome post about what should be packed into a toddler's lunchbox; be sure to check it out—along with our ultimate guide to giving babies real food—for more inspo!
Everything You Need To Know About Healthy Toddler Snacking
A toddler's snacking routine is slightly different from that of other age groups. As parents, we always want to stay in the know on what our little ones need; being aware of the differences of what's best for babies vs. toddlers vs. kiddos vs. big kids is important—and a great place to start when it comes to healthy snacking and what options to offer (and when).
Since toddlers can't eat a lot in one sitting, it's important to ensure they get essential nutrients with each bite (fun fact: this is why our tagline is Every Bite Counts®!). Snacking is an excellent opportunity to fill their little bodies with maximum nutrition...because who knows if they'll even eat their dinner or if it will end up on the floor.
Here's our checklist:
1) Serve snacks that contain high-quality, ethically sourced meats/protein, organic veggies, and healthy fats!
2) Ask ourselves a) Will they eat this? b) Will this keep them full and balanced? c) Can they safely eat this food?
How Is Snacking Different For Toddlers?
Toddlers between 12 and 24 months old need a well-balanced diet to maintain their energy levels and meet their mental and physical developmental needs. Protein, such as nuts, meats, fish, eggs, and dairy, are great options for providing this energy. Toddlers are continuously refining their motor skills and constantly learning how to listen, speak, and socialize. They're also in the "flavor window sweet spot," which is a fancy term for the ideal time to introduce new foods, textures, and tastes.
As with most things in life, it's important to be flexible and patient with food acceptance at the toddler stage. If they do not want a new food, calmly put it away and try again in a few weeks—don't give up! Keep reintroducing foods all the time. Offer fun new foods and textures, and re-try "old" foods and textures they maybe weren't a fan of in the past; your little one depends on you to be their advocate; no pressure, but you're helping form their future tastebuds and habits.
What Fresh Snacks Can I Give My Toddler? What Should I Avoid?
When you're in the hustle and bustle of busy mom life, it may not always seem like there are tons of easy options for quick healthy snack ideas for your toddler(s), but we promise there are plenty of great options!
Cooked, chopped, organic vegetables with melted butter or olive oil (think outside the box like parsnips, cooked spinach, and beets!)
Bone broth for protein on the go
Small chunks of cheese (if dairy is tolerated)
Small pieces of grassfed butter (if dairy is tolerated)
Small pieces of low-sugar fruit like organic berries, plums, and avocados (yes, avocado is a fruit!)
High-quality, ethically-sourced meat (our meat purees make a great on-the-go option for protein-packed meals and snacks when out and about)
Nuts (depending on the child's age and allergy situation)
Ethically sourced, nitrate-free meats like prosciutto or roast beef (we like Applegate Farms)
Ethically sourced breakfast sausages cut diagonally (another non-sponsored plug for Applegate Farms, and Teton Ranch makes some great ones out of beef)
Grass-fed beef hot dog cut diagonally/vertically to be less of a choking hazard
Baby carrots (consider slicing them)
Celery sticks with almond butter
Black or green pitted olives (Della, our co-founder's daughter's personal favorite)
Almond butter on apple slices
Nutrient-rich smoothies (limit fruit and include fiber like leafy organic greens and protein; we love grass-fed collagen!) Check out this beet & berries smoothie where you can easily adapt the recipe to include any add-ons you wish!
We're huge fans of introducing tons of foods to toddlers to help expand their palates for years to come.
Making Healthy Snacking A Habit
During your child's first few years, they constantly learn, watch, and try new things. While they are young—aka a sponge—get excited about the opportunity to instill healthy ideologies about food. Encouraging healthy eating within the whole fam can be fun, free from diet culture, and truly set up kiddos for a lifestyle of healthy habits. Here are some of our co-founders' tips for success in their household:
Model healthy snacking as a part of your parenting routine by eating most of your calories during mealtimes
We do not use food as a bribe or reward (especially dessert as a reward for eating meals)
The best way to balance blood sugar is to eat proteins first, so we sometimes wait to offer the carbohydrates until after protein was eaten
We keep portions small and know second helpings are an option
We stock our refrigerator and pantry with healthy grab-n-go snack options, making them easy to choose quickly, any time of the day
We limit unhealthy snacks in our home
We encourage our toddler, Della, to try new foods but never force it
We try to limit snack time to twice a day; it can be helpful to adhere to a food schedule for consistent feeding times (and help our daughter not fill up on snacks, so she eats nourishing complete meals)
Eat with intention while being fully present with each other as a family
7 Easy Toddler Snack Ideas For Your Kids
Now that we've covered all that good juicy stuff above, let's make it a little easier to encourage healthy eating habits in your toddler with our round-up of easy, ready-to-go packaged snack ideas. We know you can't always make homemade snacks (who has time for that?!), and sometimes packaged snacks are the least stressful while on the go or prepping for an adventure (even if that's just daycare), so we got you!
Not to toot our own horn (okay, maybe a little), but we included a few of our Serenity Kids products because that's exactly why we created them...to make parents' lives easier by offering healthy, nutrient-dense, snacking options that are convenient for the busy mom, dad, aunt, grandma, nanny, kiddo, etc. Here are a few of our faves…
Top Serenity Kids Picks
Pouched Meat Purees
Your developing toddler is constantly growing (and snacking); they need protein and an abundant supply of it! Our pouched meat purees are packed with nutrients from ethically sourced protein, healthy fats, organic veggies, and yummy flavor! They're homemade from our kitchen, so you have more time for adventures (and snuggles). Learn how high-quality meats and healthy fats = healthier, happy little ones!
Grass-Fed Beef with Organic Kale and Sweet Potatoes
Our grain-free, protein-rich grass-fed beef puree is made with just four (awesome) farm-to-high-chair ingredients: grass-fed beef, organic kale, organic sweet potato, and water. Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3, iron, and conjugated linoleic acids, which are essential for growing babies, toddlers, and little ones. Feed your toddler's appetite with this nutrient-dense puree, filled with protein every bite! (The word on the street is this is also a fan-favorite amongst our dog parents).
Free-Range Chicken with Organic Peas and Carrots
All chicken in Serenity Kids pouched purees are humanely treated, ethically sourced, and roam free-range on American farms. "A high quality of life for our birds means a more sustainable farm for our farmers and a more delicious chicken for you/your little one(s)," says one of our farms, Farmer Focus. Learn more about our rad farmers here.
Our free-range chicken meat pouches contain just five simple farm-to-high-chair ingredients: free-range chicken, organic peas, organic carrots, organic avocado oil, and water. The healthy fats in the avocado oil help support brain development in babies and toddlers. This nutrient-dense pouched puree is low in sugar and high in protein; serve in small portions throughout the day as a healthy snack or at mealtime for a yummy option packed with vitamins and minerals.
Our vegetable pouches are packed with so.many.nutrients! Fun fact: learn how they are made shelf-stable without losing nutrients (hint...we do this by flash-freezing vegetables after harvesting to preserve their nutrient content!)
Whether you're grabbing a pouched veggie puree to serve as a side dish after a busy day at work, taking one on the airplane alongside an epic adventure, stashing one in your diaper bag for a playdate, or using it in a recipe, there truly are endless possibilities when consuming our veggie pouches! Check out this nourishing, yummy organic roots and berries smoothie recipe using our Organic Roots Pouch or this toddler-friendly pumpkin spice "latte" recipe using our Organic Squashes Puree for fall vibes all year round.
Organic Carrot, Spinach, and Basil Pouched Puree
Our Organic Carrot, Spinach, and Basil Pouched Puree is free from common allergens and preservatives and is made with just five yummy (and nourishing!) farm-to-high-chair ingredients: organic carrot, organic spinach, organic basil, organic olive oil, and water. Our veggies pouches are super low in sugar (averaging just 3.3 grams), which is way less than the leading traditional and organic brands, which can have up to 9 grams of sugar—Buzz, your girlfriend, woof! The olive oil in our recipes adds essential fatty acids, encouraging nutrient absorption and brain development for growing little ones.
Sweet Potato and Parsnip Pouched Puree
Taste the rainbow with our Sweet Potato and Parsnip Veggie Pouch and its five farm-to-high-chair simple ingredients: organic purple carrot, organic sweet potato, organic parsnip, organic olive oil, and water. We love this puree, as it boasts 5 grams of healthy fats for essential fatty acids & development. Its simple USDA Certified Organic & Non-GMO Project verified ingredients make early flavor introductions easy peasy. Make snack time easy for you and your little one; our veggie purees come in a case with six pouches, and you can get a subscription to get pouches delivered straight to your doorstep—AND save 20%!
Nutrition, in general, can be overwhelming, but we're here to try and make it easier; as busy parents, we know how important it is to sort through the noise and the fads. With so many differentiating opinions and perspectives, it can be hard to know what's healthy and what's not; we all want what's best for our babes, but the pressure to not screw it up is real.
Our grain-free puffs make it easy to offer your toddler a fun crunchy snack food rather than conventional alternatives that often lack nutrients and can irritate the gut. Ever wondered why we follow a grain-free lifestyle and brought grain-free puffs snacks to the market? Read all about that here.
Our grain-free puffs have zero grams of sugar and are both preservative and common allergen-free; they're an excellent grab-and-go snack option made from real ingredients. Learn when babies can have puffs here!
Carrot And Beet Grain-Free Puffs With Olive Oil
Our Carrot and Beet Grain-Free Puffs are one of our best-selling recipes! They taste delish, are perfect for practicing the pincer grasp, and easily dissolve in the mouth, making them great for babies and toddlers with and without teeth—perfect for mastering mashing food between their gums.
Our grain-free puffs make a great healthy toddler snack. They are made from simple, farm-to-high-chair ingredients like cassava flour, tapioca starch, olive oil, carrot powder, sweet potato powder, beet powder, rosemary extract, and ginger. Introduce your toddler to savory flavors and encourage them to get their crunch on (even if it means a messy car seat!)
Tomato And Mushroom Grain-Free Puffs
Our Tomato and Mushroom Grain-free Puffs are made with farm-to-high-chair ingredients like cassava flour, dehydrated beef bone broth, organic olive oil, dehydrated mushrooms, tomato powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and rosemary extract. Yes, they’re like pasta (grain-free, of course), in a crunchy puff!!
Our grain-free puffs are made using grass-fed beef bone broth for added protein and contain no added sugar. These bites are packed with nutrients, are free from gluten, rice, and grains, and make a super great, easy packaged snack to take with you when you're on the go as a busy parent and kiddo.
Grass Fed A2 Whole Milk Toddler Formula
We designed our toddler formula to mimic the composition of breast milk, with the specific needs of developing minds and bodies of 12-36-month-olds. Using high-quality ingredients like A2 grass-fed organic whole milk from Alexandre Family Farm, it is nutrient-rich and easily digestible - a real game-changer! You can mix it with water, or use it to make delicious, nutrient-packed, toddler-friendly smoothies!
Other Grab-n-Go Faves
Grass-Fed Hot Dogs (cut lengthwise)
Since hot dogs are the most commonly choked-upon food, it’s important to cut this protein-rich snack properly. Slice your hot dog down the middle lengthwise, and cut it into small, toddler-sized bites. Try pairing this snack with cherry tomatoes (also cut into smaller pieces) and grassfed cottage cheese for a well-rounded savory snack.
The New Primal Kids Meat Sticks
These free-range Primal meat sticks can be sliced up or broken up, to feed your toddler in little high-protein bites. The new primal kids' meat sticks come in various flavors and meats, which can help you keep things interesting for your toddler. This is a free-range and ethical, healthy snack for your toddler. With 7g of protein and just 45 calories in each stick, you can provide your toddler with an excellent food intake to nutrient ratio.
Lesser Evil Power Curls
Beware- these are slightly addictive for little one and parents! Made with cassava, egg whites, and avocado oil, these are our family’s alternative to popcorn. They have a decent amount of both healthy fat and protein, which are the hardest things to find in a snack.
Oloves Pitted Green Olives
These tasty, salty snacks come packaged in a super convenient, 1-ounce pouch. They even come in savory flavors like Basil & Garlic or Lemon & Rosemary, to help expose your baby to sophisticated flavors and prepare them for a lifetime of healthy eating.
This new woman-owned bar company has become one of our favorites! They’re grain-free, dairy-free, seed-oil free, soy-free and low sugar. The taste is good, but not super addictive, which is what I love. They’re a little large for a toddler, so we cut them in half- otherwise she wouldn’t be hungry for her dinner. Della’s favorite is the Dark Chocolate Brownie, mama likes the Cinnamon Cookie Dough, and dad love the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip. Yum!
Siete chips have been a staple in our household for years now. We love that they use 100% avocado oil and cassava. They’re pretty carb-y, but when paired with a super-nutritious guacamole, they become a more balanced snack.
These are the juiciest meat stick ever and make getting more protein into your babe a breeze! And made with regeneratively raised, heritage pork. The Bacon flavor is great for a morning (or anytime) snack, and the Pineapple flavor packs a sweet punch. Due to the shape, they might be better for a slightly older kiddo that has plenty of teeth.
Natierra Super Foods Freeze Dried Peas
Della ate the heck out of these when she was 1-2 years old. They’re not a choke hazard, so super easy to hand to a kid and let them eat while you do other things. They’re a fun way for your toddler to practice her pincher grasp.
Yes, feeding your toddler sometimes sucks. Hopefully this list has given you some inspiration for your toddler's grain-free, high-protein, and nutrient-packed snacks! Try these snacks out and see if your toddler enjoys them. Drop us a line and let us know how it goes!!