Back To School-Healthy Snacks For Toddlers and Kids
With Back to School upon us, and my big kid entering Junior Kindergarten, I want to make sure he has enough energy to play and learn all day. Sometimes it’s a struggle to think of healthy snacks for toddler and bigger kids. Many parents end up sending sugar and salt-laden, highly processed foods, which, though yummy, will not sustain your child’s energy levels all day. This may lead to a less focused and interested student.
Here are my favorite school (and weekend outing) snacks for kids:
Cheese is an easy thing to pack, and is full of healthy protein and calcium. It comes in so many forms, from slices to cubes to strings, to suit all tastes.
A staple in my fridge is sliced peppers, carrots and cucumber. Always at the ready, sitting cut in strips and in cold water, these are an easy and colorful snack. Full of nutrients and fiber, sliced veg are a great go-to snack for little (and big) hands.
In their natural state or cut into strips or cubes (or fun shapes if you’re motivated), fruit is high in fiber and nutrients. Sweet and easy to eat, fruit is a great hydrator as well, as fruits are mostly water. Great for on-the-go. My kids love bananas, apple slices, nectarines, peaches and berries.
Nut butter alternative
Peanut butter used to be a staple in many kid’s lunches when I was growing up. With so many more kids suffering from food allergies and more public awareness, less peanut butter should be showing up at schools and public places. Smart companies now make peanut-butter-alternative butters such as Wow Butter that have fantastic protein and will provide your child with energy till dinnertime.
Whole grain crackers
Crackers are an easy thing to take to school and can be eaten on their own or with cheese, butters or other spreads to provide energy and fiber to your growing kid.
Fruit and vegetable bars
For kids that are less inclined to eat a whole fresh fruit, fruit and veg bars are a decent alternative occasionally. Made of pureed fruit and veg, they are a compact, easy to transport option with high fiber and some nutrients found in whole fruit and veg. Don’t eat too many though, they are much higher in calories than their fresh counterpart, with less fiber.
Options such as raisins, dried apricots and dates are energy dense, high in protein and fiber, and kids think they are candy. Careful of the serving sizes and ensure you brush teeth carefully as they are sticky!
Whole grain cereal
A handful of high fiber, low sugar cereal is an easy and nutritious snack, even without milk. Easy to pack and compact.
Available in cups and tubes and drinks, yogurt is a protein and calcium powerhouse. Try out lower sugar options – many yogurt options are full of unnecessary sugar. Add dried fruit and whole grain cereal and you have an awesome, well-rounded snack.
One of my kids’ favorite snacks is vegetable sticks dipped in hummus. The combo provides a great source of fiber and protein.
Especially on the run, smoothies are one of my favorite snack options. You can put in whatever you want: fruit, veg, grains, and healthy fats such as flax, chia and nuts. I don’t recommend drinking all your calories, but for picky kids, smoothies are nutritious and thirst quenching if you choose smart ingredients. Check out some smoothie suggestions here.
High in fiber and kid-friendly, popcorn is a great alternative to traditional snack food like chips and cookies. Don’t offer to children younger than 4-5 years though, as they are a chocking hazard due to small, lightweight pieces that can be aspirated.
Snack away and enjoy!!!
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.