Crunchy food for babies

Snacks for Toddlers: A Mega List of Toddler Snack Ideas

Are you giving your toddler the same snacks every day? My mega list of snacks for toddlers will offer you fresh inspiration for healthy snacks, while adding nutrients to the diet of your growing toddler.

Toddler snacks should be flavorful, nutritious and a bit challenging for the palate, whether it be from texture, spice or other.

I’ve worked with a lot of toddlers over the years in my private practice. One thing that comes up in conversation is snacking.

Do toddlers need snacks? How many each day? Should they be sit down snacks or is it okay to eat them on the go? How about eating snacks in the stroller?

As a pediatric nutritionist, I view toddler snacks through the lens of nutrition, growth and development. I think about a toddler’s tummy: its size, digestion abilities, and the speed of which food contents move through.

I consider the high nutrient requirements of the toddler and the limited space (the tummy) to hold them. I also know how important it is to develop healthy flavor preferences, good eating habits early on, and a sense of adventure with trying new foods.

All toddlers need healthy snacks. All parents need healthy toddler snack ideas!

Do Toddlers Need Snacks?

Yes, they do and here’s why:

Small tummies mean that toddlers can’t (and wont’) eat large portions of food in one sitting. They need an eating schedule that offers frequent eating sessions throughout the day. I typically recommend 3 meals and 3 snacks during the day, spaced out every 2 to 3 hours.

Healthy snacks for toddlers should be just as nutritious, interesting, and flavorful as meals. In fact, I want you to think of toddler snacks as a ‘mini meal.’

Just a smaller number of food groups (2 or 3) and small portions.

Need a refresher on portion sizes for toddlers? Read: Toddler Portion Sizes

I view healthy snacks for toddlers through a lens of nutrition, growth and development.

~Jill Castle, MS, RDN

I also want you to consider snack time as an opportunity for your toddler to try new foods, become exposed to different flavors, and experience new textures. Oh, and don’t forget it’s a time to practice independent food exploration and self-feeding!

There’s a lot of potential good stuff happening with snacking. So, yes, toddlers benefit in many ways from healthy toddler snacks.

Toddler Snacks: Warnings!

Even though there will be more adventure with eating as you offer your toddler new foods, you still should be cautious about choking hazards.

Remember, eating skills are developing.

Never leave your young child alone while he’s eating, and for very young toddlers, stay attuned to their developing eating capabilities.

Always modify texture and size of food to match your toddler’s eating skills. Focus on finger food at this stage and gradually teaching your little one to use utensils.

Choking Hazards for Toddlers:

A few foods can be problematic for the toddler – take care to avoid these:

  • Candy and chewing gum (these are the most common culprits of choking in young children)
  • Small, hard pieces of food (raw, hard vegetables like carrots)
  • Large pieces of food (these can block the airway if not chewed thoroughly)
  • Round, cylindrical shapes such as whole grapes, hot dogs, string cheese, and meat sticks (quarter or cut smaller before serving)
  • Slippery or smooth foods such as large pieces of fruit with skin on, whole pieces of canned fruit, fruit with membranes like oranges
  • Dry or hard foods may be challenging to chew such as popcorn, nuts and seeds, chips, and pretzels
  • Sticky or tough foods such as nut butters, tough meat, dried fruit, and chewy candy

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers (Age 1 to 3 Year Olds)

It can be so easy to pull out the same orange cheesy crackers and milk every day at snack time, but you’d be missing a golden opportunity in feeding your toddler.

I’ve compiled this list to inspire your creativity with toddler snacks, while simultaneously creating opportunities for more nutrition and flavor.

Fruit Snacks for Toddlers

There are lots of fruit options for toddlers. From fresh to freeze-dried, add some of these in your snack rotation.

Fresh Fruit Snack Ideas
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Sliced apples (Peel the skin as needed)
  • Banana
  • Sliced peaches, nectarines and apricots (stone fruits – peel the skin as needed)
  • Grapes (quartered or cut into 1/8ths)
  • Clementine and oranges (peel and separate; cut each section into halves or thirds)
  • Cubed melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)

Packaged Fruit Snack Options
  • Applesauce cups
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Fruit cups like mandarin oranges or mixed fruit cocktail (in natural, or own, juices)
  • Fruit puree blends in pouches

Dried Fruit Snacks
  • Raisins
  • Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 100% Fruit leather
  • Dried clementine, apricots, prunes (cut into smaller pieces)
  • Freeze-dried fruit “chips”


Watch this video on YouTube

Veggie Snacks for Toddlers

Blanch raw veggies so they are tender and easier to chew. Also, slice, cube or chop veggies into small pieces for ease of eating.

  • Blanched carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc
  • Thawed peas
  • Cubed or thinly sliced “fingers” of cucumber (peel skin as needed)
  • Thinly sliced sweet peppers (red, yellow, green)
  • Cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • Thawed edamame
  • Low sodium canned green beans, artichoke hearts (drained)
  • Cubed avocado

Try to incorporate seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Fun Dips for Toddler Snack Time

Toddlers love to feed themselves and experience food. You’ll hear “Me do it!” more and more as your toddler gains independence and confidence with eating.

Dips are a perfect way to hand over some independence and autonomy to your little one.

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole/mashed avocado
  • Salsa (red or green)
  • Low fat cream cheese (try flavored versions like strawberry, chive, vegetable, etc)
  • Nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond, etc)
  • Salad dressing (Ranch, Italian, French, Bleu Cheese, etc)
  • Yogurt (try plain yogurt mixed with a little bit of sriracha or salsa for a savory, spicy dip)
  • Applesauce, peach sauce, or other fruit purees
  • Maple syrup

Muffins for Toddlers

Muffins are a vehicle for all sorts of nutrient “goodies. ” Try making the ‘mini’ versions of these muffin recipes so your toddler can easily hold them.

  • Fresh Raspberry Muffins
  • Pancake Muffins with Raspberry Chia Jam
  • Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chunks

Whole Grain Snacks for Toddlers

A taste and preference for whole grains is important to establish in early childhood, especially as toddlers expand their diets.

Fiber in food can also be very helpful as toddlers learn to toilet train.

  • Triscuit crackers
  • Whole wheat pretzels
  • Whole wheat mini pitas (soft version)
  • Brown rice crackers and brown rice cakes
  • Whole wheat toast triangles (spread nut butter or melt a slice of cheese on top)
  • Graham crackers
  • Quinoa puffs
  • Whole grain waffle (mini or regular size)
  • Whole wheat macaroni (cooked)
  • Whole grain sandwich sticks (make a sandwich and cut into “fingers”)

Crunchy Snacks for Toddlers

Toddlers love crunchy foods. Take care to look for items that boast some good nutrients and choose those containing lower sodium levels (children aged 1 to 3 years should get no more than 1500 milligrams per day).

  • Veggie chips or sticks
  • Low sugar cereals (Cheerios, Kix, Chex, Puffins, etc)
  • Quinoa chips
  • Snap pea crisps
  • Mini brown rice cakes

Not sure which cereals would be best for your child? Read Best Cereals for Kids.

Dairy Snacks

Dairy foods offer a punch of nutrients including protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, and more. Don’t get stuck on only offering cheese…step it up with a variety of dairy options.

  • Full fat yogurt (plain or low sugar varieties)
  • Drinkable yogurt or smoothies
  • Yogurt sticks
  • Kefir (unflavored or flavored)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sliced or cubed cheese
  • Glass of milk
  • Homemade smoothie

I’ve got help for choosing the best yogurt for kids and the latest on whole milk!

Protein Snack Ideas for Toddlers (Meat/Beans/Nuts/Egg)

While some of these protein foods may seem more like lunch items, they can be served as part of a healthy snack for toddlers, too.

  • Hard-boiled egg (sliced or cubed)
  • Cubed turkey, low sodium ham, or chicken
  • Tuna fish salad (use as a dip or spread)
  • Canned beans (black beans, chick peas; rinse before serving)
  • Deli meat roll-ups (sliced/chop as needed)
  • Nut butters (use as a spread or dip)
  • Chopped nuts (cashews, walnuts)
  • Hummus
  • Black bean dip

Feeling inspired with fresh ideas? I hope so! You can download my mega list of snacks for toddlers here and post it somewhere to remind you to keep rotating and using these toddler snack ideas as an opportunity to build nutrition into your toddler’s diet.

Want to learn more about making snacks? Check out my book, The Smart Mom’s Guide to Healthy Snacking, read 51 Filling Snacks for Kids and A Guide to Healthy Snacks for Kindergartners, or grab my Healthy Snack Planner for Kids.

TODDLER WEIGHT GAIN TIPS | 5 Ways to Help Toddlers Who are Slow Growers Gain Weight and Grow Faster

Watch this video on YouTube

40 Healthy Crunchy Foods for Kids

I was just working on a family’s protocol offering up recommendations for healthier “crunchy” foods, and thought “I need to share this!” So here I am with my list of 40 healthy crunchy foods for kids!

Most kids do very well with crunchy foods, especially picky eaters.

When Sienna went through her earlier phases of extreme picky eating, crunchy foods were a staple.  If I steered into the territory of mushy foods (like muffins) or slimy foods (like yogurt) it was anxiety-provoking.  I had to prepare myself for a lot of gagging, and even vomiting.  Nope…those days were not fun.

But here we are today, with a little girl who had my homemade pumpkin seed & zucchini crackers for breakfast, with hazelnut butter, and some coconut yogurt.  No gagging and no tears.  I NEVER thought things would change, but with some tweaks, we completely turned things around.  She is a different child at meals and stress is long gone.

Why do children crave crunchy foods?


Picky eaters like my daughter in her earlier years, tend to be selective with food because of their sensory preferences.  For instance, a child can be under-sensitive or over-sensitive to sensory input like smell, taste, and texture.   

When we are under sensitivity, we can’t process sensory input from food properly or feel softer textures in our mouth (think of it as if the sensation in our mouth is numbed). When sensations are numbed, we would avoid foods like yogurt, bread, etc., and instead develop a preference for crunchier foods.  Sienna would also over-stuffed her mouth to help feel her food and get a sense of the oral boundaries. Intimately known as the “chipmunk effect”.


Some children (also like my Sienna) have low muscle tone or delayed chewing skills.  They haven’t quite figured out how to move their tongue around and position food for chewing and swallowing.  Some crunchy foods are easier to manage because they often dissolve and require limited oral motor skills.  Kids get their energy/calories much quicker with these calorically-dense foods, versus having to gnaw on a lot of broccoli.


And more simply, kids (and adults alike) may crave the crunch because these foods tend to taste better.  So I asked the parents who follow me which Crunchy foods their kids go crazy for and here’s what I heard:

  • Cheerios
  • Cheese Puffs
  • Cheetos
  • Cheesy Crackers (Cheezits, Cheese Nibs)
  • Animal Crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Chips
  • French Fries
  • Munchies

I’d love to know which crunchy foods your little one loves?  Comment below!

Alternative crunchy foods (healthier options)

Picky eaters also tend to be limited eaters, so getting a nutrient punch with every bite is important.  So I’ve also included a list of 40 crunchy foods (healthier alternatives) you can try at home.  Because rotating foods is important to keep (or get) our kids out of the cycle of eating the same foods (and nutrients) every single day.  Even the smallest change can help expand their variety.

The list here includes mostly packaged foods (aside from your fruit and veg options).  And I’ll be honest, we don’t have much of these foods in the house now. I prefer to slave over the stove making our own crunchy foods and saving the environment from all the packaging.

But I get it. Time is precious as a parent and without these convenience snacks, we’d go insane!  So I’ve selected the products you can feel good about giving your little ones.  They are better than the average crunchy cookie, chip, or cracker.  Mostly GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and preservative-free.

As a Certified Nutritionist & Picky Eating Expert, I also help parents incorporate healthier alternatives unless their child has a VERY limited list of preferred foods. Then eating comes first and nutrition comes second.


40 Healthy Crunchy Foods 

Vegetables Carrot, Celery, Parsnip
Kale Chips   Love this brand as well
Snap Peas (organic)
Seaweed Crisps
Fruit Apple slices
Pear slices (less ripe)
Banana chips  Sweetened varieties also available
Apple chips (organic)  Same as above
Sweet Snacks  Cashew Clusters
Coconut “Smiles”  Great source of healthy fats
Cinnamon Rice Cakes Top with favourite nut or seed butter
Coconut Clusters
Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas Great source of protein
Nuts & Seeds  Pumpkin Seeds High in iron and fibre
Brazil Nuts
Sunflower Seeds
Chips  Beanitos Made of beans so higher in protein
Protein Chips
Snap Pea Crisps Or http://www.
Sweet Potato Chips
Blue Chips Gluten Free, Non GMO, Organic
Crackers  Rice Crackers  Limit to a few days a week due to concerns with arsenic.
Rice Cake Thins  Same as above.
Sweet Potato Crackers Beet flavour also available
Oat Crackers Gluten-free, No sugar
Mary’s Crackers Wheat-free, No sugar, Organic ingredients, few ingredients
Cereal  Love Grown Power O’s Bean-based cereal
Paleo Granola Nutrient-dense: mostly nuts and seeds, low sugar
18 Rabbits Granola Nut free
JK Granola My fave!  Gluten and grain free, low sugar
Cookies/Bars Quinoa Cookies
Ginger Snaps no preservatives, low sugar, additives, trans-fat or cholesterol, made with Spelt flour, Wheat-Free
Protein Bars Soy is primary ingredient so limit to one or two a week
Hemp Heart Bites Contains healthy fats

Download a printable version here!

Did I miss any favourites?  Let me know in the comments!

And if your child’s eating is a concern for you, definitely try out the “Curious Cookie Food Exploration Mat,” it is the ultimate mealtime tool to get picky eaters to try new foods faster and it will help you identify your child’s sensory preferences. Your child is encouraged to investigate each food you present them and walk through different sensory towns, by exploring foods sense-by-sense you can figure out what sense is affecting their eating habits.


How to feed a child on the example of one dish - quinoa with crispy vegetables

Have you ever had such situations: it's time for a child to have lunch, but lunch is not ready? I told you I'm not the perfect mother. Today I was so carried away by writing an article that when Danya returned from a walk, I felt ashamed. Quick, something needs to be done! I remembered that in the refrigerator I had quinoa, cooked the night before for a cocktail. Do not give dry porridge to a child!?

So, half an onion, carrots, half a zucchini and green peas in pods.
Agree, not every child will eat . How much is unexpected for a child!
How did I cook this?

Medium heat, onion and diced carrots in olive oil. Literally 2 minutes. Carrots should remain crispy. Cube zucchini, exactly one more minute. The zucchini should stay crispy! Peas, and again exactly a minute, then it will become soft, and this is already superfluous. I add quinoa, stir, a little more oil, and a minute. Ready! It took 7 minutes in total, including cutting. Not counting yesterday's three minutes of preparing quinoa and 12 minutes of boiling.

I put it in a bowl and take it to my son.
- Danya, look, how Castor grew peas!

Danya's eyes light up, I take the pod in my hand and give it a bite.

-Mom, give me more!

Castor is my favorite book character. A beaver who either builds a locker, or paints, or bakes a pie, or grows beans. Danya knows all 4 books by heart. Ready to read about Castor again and again. Do you understand what I'm getting at? Tricks. You can't force kids to eat. They are suspicious of new products. Big. Danya never ate green peas. How to present to him? We need to make the product interesting. Castor is not a panacea, I'm sure your children could still not read about this indefatigable beaver. But they love something else, read and watch. And it could not be beans, but carrots. The main thing is to bring an element of the game .

Danya ate a full bowl of . Why? Initially, the Castor story worked. But if he didn't like it, he wouldn't continue eating. Often children do not eat vegetables because mothers turn them into something soft and overcooked. There are activities for children where they are taught multi-sensory perception of food. They give the vegetable to touch, smell, see how bright and beautiful it is, try it, hear its crunch. Crunch is very attractive to us. It is associated with freshness, juiciness, youth or something. That is why advertising chips exploits this very crunch. And I'm not talking about the fact that the less we process vegetables, the more useful they are. The quinoa itself was also cooked so that it was crumbly and burst in the mouth.

Child d is much more willing to eat a bowl of porridge with colorful and crunchy vegetables! Feel the taste of everyone, appreciate the color.

Recipe for 2 servings

2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 zucchini, diced
a handful (approx. Heat oil (2 tablespoons) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots, fry for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
2. Add zucchini, stir-fry for another minute.
3. Add peas, stir-fry for another minute.
4. Add quinoa, stir, adding more oil if needed. Heat everything together for one minute, stirring.

12 vegetable dishes for children / Tasty and healthy - an article from the "What to feed" section on

Cooking vegetables for children according to the rules

Vegetables for children can not only be boiled and steamed, but also baked, stewed , cook in a sleeve and foil, on a grill and skewers over an open fire. The more options you try, the more you expand your child's food horizons, you can find recipes that add many different vegetables to the diet.

Before moving on to recipes, you need to remember 3 simple rules for preparing vegetables for children:

  1. Experiment with the types of processing. A child who does not accept carrots in soup, if they are boiled and cubed, can eat them with pleasure in the form of straws. Cauliflower can be squeamish when boiled, but is great eaten mashed or baked with cheese in the oven.

  2. Mix and stir. Use the same principle as during the introduction of the first complementary foods, when a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin or carrot were slowly added to your favorite applesauce. This also works with older children.

  3. Use the pastry as bait. Baking is not only buns, but also yeast pie with cabbage, carrot cake and much more.

12 vegetable dishes for children

1. Vegetable stew

What is good about stew, besides being quick and easy to prepare? You can experiment with it by adding new vegetables. Today - potatoes and cabbage, tomorrow instead of cabbage there may be a pumpkin, and the day after tomorrow - parsnips.

There are picky eaters who will fish for pieces of unfamiliar food, but in most cases, children love stews and are ready to try new ingredients again and again.

2. Carrot cake

As a rule, children like carrots. It is sweet, crunchy, and also available in a mini format. If you're unlucky and your child flatly refuses to even try an orange root vegetable, don't tell him what the pie is. Be calm - the children will not even guess about the presence of carrots, unless they were present at the time of preparation. And then, when the child requires supplements and eats the third piece, you can ask what this miracle pie is made of. The answer will surprise everyone. That's the love of carrots.

3. Pumpkin casserole

Making friends with sweet vegetables is not a problem. They are almost like fruits. Porridges with pumpkin and pumpkin puree appear in the baby's diet at 6-7 months, this sweet taste is familiar to him. So pumpkin casserole or pumpkin with cottage cheese and dried fruits can be a great solution for an afternoon snack or breakfast if you made it the day before.

4. Pie with vegetables

Children are ready to eat shortcrust pastry even raw. What’s more, it’s so appetizing. And shortcrust pastry pies are a fairy tale. Even if the main “enemies” of children lurk inside - spinach and broccoli. Such a pie, served for dinner, will be eaten with lightning speed. And next time you can add other vegetables to it. Just don't forget a lot of cheese - for disguise.

5. Vegetable soup

Boiled vegetables, let's be honest, are not very attractive. And catching carrots from chicken broth is much more interesting than eating them. Whether business minestrone. This rich soup, which can be prepared from any vegetable, takes you to the coast of Italy. So both a schoolboy and a teenager can be sold as "the one from the pizzeria." In addition, minestrone is bright due to the addition of tomato paste, fragrant due to herbs, and sourness whets the appetite.

6. Secret mashed potatoes

Children are ready to eat mashed potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But parents, of course, want their child to eat not only potatoes, but also other healthy vegetables. Well, you can cheat. Potato goes well with mashed cauliflower, celery or parsnips. The child will ask to cook only in this way - the dish turns out to be painfully tender.

7. Vegetable waffles

Waffles will save the world, at least in a single family for sure. Bright, juicy, orange and red, they just ask for your mouth. And since beets and carrots have a natural sweetness, the dish will be included in the permanent menu for a long time.

8. Steamed vegetables

Steamed vegetables is not exactly a children's story. But for honeycomb, you can make an exception. Children love the crispy crust, and the vegetables, which are first lightly fried and then stewed in tomato sauce for a long time, are tasty and soft.

9. Baked sweet potato

This overseas vegetable is rarely on our table. But in vain. There are much more benefits in it than in ordinary potatoes, and in taste it completely surpasses the usual root crop. And most importantly - cooking takes a little time.

10. Pie with cabbage

Bake an endless number of pies with cabbage and carrots for a long time. And not every parent is ready to do such a feat for the sake of accustoming children to vegetables. But to cook a jellied cauliflower pie is literally forty minutes, or even less. Children are happy to try it and require supplements.

11. Cutlets with vegetables

Zucchini is just a seemingly simple vegetable, there are more than enough vitamins and useful microelements in it. The taste is neutral, so it is easy not to notice it in the dish. This is often a plus. Potato meatballs - the same mashed potatoes, only fried and with a golden crust. Children, as a rule, love them, and you can keep silent about the fact that you added zucchini there.

12. Stewed cabbage

The most difficult thing is, perhaps, shredding the cabbage. The rest takes little time. And if you add sausages to the stewed cabbage, the children will demand the second dish regularly.

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