Snacks for Toddlers
Anyone who has a toddler in their life knows the word “snack” all too well. Toddlers (12 to 36 months of age) are meant to have three scheduled meals with two or three snacks in between. Choose My Plate recommends toddlers have variety of foods offered to them with the recommended servings per day:
1 to 1 1/2 cups fruit
1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetables
3 to 5 ounces grains (half should be whole grains)
2 to 4 ounces protein foods
2 cups low-fat or fat-free dairy
What is a snack anyway? A snack is typically known as the small portion of food eaten in between meals. Snacks should be enjoyable, easy to prepare, filling, and nutritious. When offering a snack to a toddler it is important to remember that the amount they should eat is just enough to control hunger without feeling too full. It is recommended to provide snacks that are high in fiber, which contain carbohydrates for quick fuel, or snacks that contain protein, which will help them feel full faster. Having more than just one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session will also help get them to the next meal without asking for another snack.
Some ways to help make snack time easier include packing snacks the night before, so you can grab-and-go in the morning, keep baggies or small containers handy to throw snacks in, and if your budget allows, purchasing pre-made healthy snack foods in individual portion sizes such as mini packs of vegetables, fresh fruit cups, cheese sticks, or mini peanut butter or hummus cups. Here are some fun, budget-friendly, recipes to try with your toddler!
5 Snack Recipes
1. Fruit Popsicles
2/3 Cup fresh or canned fruit (use any fruit that is in season, it will be cheaper and taste better!)
1 Cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/3 Cup fruit juice of choice
Wash and slice fresh fruit, or drain if using canned
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth
Pour into popsicle molds or plastic/paper cups and insert a popsicle stick or straw
Freeze for 4-6 hours or until fully frozen
Remove cup or popsicle mold and enjoy!
2. Peanut Butter Banana Wraps:
1 Whole wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp peanut butter
Honey (avoid using honey in food eaten by children under 12 months)
Coat tortilla with peanut butter. If it is too thick to spread, thin it out with a few drops of water.
Place the banana at one end of the tortilla.
Wrap the tortilla around the banana.
Cut into bite-size slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey if desired.
3. Home-made Applesauce:
1 1/2 Cup water
Peel and core apples. Cut them into 1-inch cubes.
Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice out into a small bowl, straining out seeds and pulp.
Place apple cubes, lemon juice, and water in a pot and heat on high. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to low heat.
Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Stir frequently, add more water if needed.
Mash with fork or blend to preferred consistency.
Add cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired.
4. Fruit Kabobs:
Try all different fruits! Cut into fun shapes and sizes using cookie cutters.
Wash and cut fruit into bite-size amounts. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes.
Layer fruit on kabob sticks.
When finished, use scissors to trim off the sharp end of the kabob stick.
Dip in yogurt and enjoy!
5. Sweet Taco Fries:
3 Sweet potatoes
1 Cup canned corn
1 Can beans
Wash the sweet potatoes and tomato, drain and rinse the corn and beans.
Dice tomato. Set aside.
Chop the sweet potatoes into long wedges.
Lay wedges flat on a sprayed cooking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip with a spatula and bake for another 15 minutes or until crisp.
Top with diced tomato, corn, and beans.
Serve with a sprinkle of taco seasoning, avocado, sour cream, and cilantro.
Tips for Picky Eaters
What if your toddler refuses the snack you have offered? Toddlers are naturally picky-eaters. It is completely normal for them to choose one or two foods and refuse to eat anything else, or be afraid to try new foods. They may refuse a food based on certain colors or textures - all normal! Some helpful tips when your toddler is a picky eater:
Keep offering! Continue to offer a new food, even if your child has refused it before. Some children need to see a new food 10-15 times before they will try or like it.
Offer only one new food at a time, when introducing a new food, serve something you know your child likes along with it.
Try a new texture or flavor, if your child doesn’t like a food item - they may like it made differently.
Be a role model. When they see you eating healthy foods, they will be more likely to eat it, too.
Sit with them! Family meals offer many benefits, a few being that it is safer when supervised and they are more likely to try new foods.
Encourage your child to choose from a variety of foods.
Offer choices. Rather than asking, “Do you want broccoli with dinner?” ask, “Which would you like with dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?”
Kids like to try foods they help make, including them in preparing the foods when it’s safe.
Let them pick out fruits and vegetables at the store.
Offer the same foods for the whole family. Don’t make a different meal for your child.
Make food fun! Use fun names to name the food, make it colorful, or cut the food into fun shapes!