Here are some healthy snack ideas for one to three year olds. Whether your toddler is at home, at school, or on the go, these are sure to sustain them until the next meal.
If you find yourself serving the same snacks day in and out, I can completely relate! As a mom of two littles, I feel like all I do is feed my kids.
That's why snacks NEED to be quick to make. With the simple formula and list that I'm sharing here, you'll be able to whip up simple yet nutritious "mini meals" that will fuel your toddler.
How many snacks do toddlers need?
If you're like most parents, you probably wonder if your child is getting enough to eat. You may perhaps be surprised and worried that your toddler is eating so much less than when they were a baby.
First, know that this is completely normal! And if your child is eating more than before, that, too, is normal as every child is unique. That's why I always encourage not comparing to other children.
Most toddlers need to eat every 2-3 hours, as their stomachs are small and they need a lot of nutrition. This equates to 3 meals + 2-3 snacks.
However, if your child eats big meals, just one snack may be enough. I mention this because I felt pressured to give my son at least 2 snacks a day, but I noticed he didn't enjoy his meals as much as a result.
Always follow your child's lead.
On the other hand, if you find that your child is snacking around the clock and not eating meals, this post is for you!
One of the best things you can do is set a feeding schedule. It will not only help your child eat better as they thrive on routine but it will also make mealtimes less stressful and more enjoyable.
Tips for Toddler Snacks
- Consider snacks as mini-meals. If your child doesn’t eat much during mealtimes, then here’s a great opportunity to fill in those nutritional gaps. For instance, if your child didn’t drink their milk, you can offer other calcium-rich sources like yogurt or cheese during snack time. If veggies get no love during lunch, they might be much more interested in enjoying them with a dip as an afternoon snack.
- Just like with breakfast, build up your freezer stash by doubling recipes, and while you have the cutting board out, prep all your produce in advance. That way you can easily grab what you need for snack time (or any meal) and reduce food waste.
- Serve at least 2 food groups. More specifically protein/fat + fruits/veggies/whole grains. For example, instead of just orange, serve with nut butter or cheese. This will help keep them fuller and more satisfied until the next eating time.
- Snack times can also serve as a great opportunity for veggie exposure.
- Simply pick 2-3 items from below. I've included photos of actual snacks I served to my kids in hopes that they'll be helpful for you In visualizing. They are not meant for comparison.
- As always, modify the size and texture of food according to your child's appetite, chewing abilities, food preferences, and allergies.
Toddler Snack Containers
Here are some of my favorites for when we are out and about
- Reusable bags - a great earth-friendly option. Simply throw in the washer and good as new! I also love that my toddler can zip it up on his own.
- Stainless steel container - I've found this size to be perfect for toddlers!
- Reusable pouch - if you want to take smoothies on the go, this is a great option! Fill, stick in the freezer, and grab as you walk out the door.
- Popsicle molds - these can double as a mini snack tray (see below!). So fun to fill each holes with different bits and pieces of food. If you want a larger one, I love this freezer tray.
How to Build a Well-Balanced Snack
While it’s easy to pick just carbs, this won't keep your toddler full for long. Therefore, always aim to include some type of protein or fat.
Choose 1-2 Protein/Fat items + 1-2 items from any of the other categories.
- Cheese (cubed, shredded, slices)
- Cream cheese
- Nut/seed butter
- Nuts and seeds (chopped)
- Yogurt (pouches, tubes, cups are great portable options)
- Baked goods made with any of the above
- Apples (fresh or applesauce)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)
- Oranges (clementines, cara cara)
- Freeze dried or dried fruits as well as fruit pouches (the only ingredient is the fruit) are great portable options.
- Bell peppers
- Carrots (shredded, thinly sliced, or cooked)
- Green beans
- Tomatoes - be sure to quarter grape or cherry tomatoes
- Sweet potatoes
Easy Snack Ideas for Toddlers (at home or on the go)
These are some examples of snacks I've served to my kids recently. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, I hope these ideas are helpful!
Also check out this Ultimate Snack Tray Ideas (can also enjoy for lunch or dinner).
Make Ahead Ideas
- Overnight Oats or Quinoa - Just grab a jar from the fridge and a spoon and you're good to go!
- Lentil balls - you will love how versatile these are! If you don't have any cooked lentils then make these 2 minute oatmeal balls!
- Dips - Kids love to dip and it can really help make food interactive. Serve with veggies, crackers, bread, fruits. Make a large batch and freeze in individual portions. Pictured is Broccoli hummus. You can also use store-bought!
- Chia puddings - Here are all the variations you can try
- Waffles + fruit/vegetable. Pancakes are great too! Pictured: Pumpkin waffles
- Vegetable tots - Like these sweet potato tots. If you want to learn how to make ANY veggie-loaded tots, check out my cookbook! SO easy and freezer-friendly.
- Cookies - try sweet potato chickpea cookies , banana cookies, zucchini bread cookies
- Muffins - Tip: Devote one day to grating, slicing, or cutting vegetables into fun shapes (these food cutters are amazing!). Makes for an EASY snack item.
- Rice cakes or crackers
- Any baked goods - pictured pumpkin bread
- Banana - set up a toppings bar!
- Sweet potato toasts
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Give the potatoes a good scrub and dry.
- Can leave the skin on or off. Cut off the tips of the sweet potato.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the sweet potato lengthwise into ⅓-1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on lined or greased baking sheet. Spray or brush oil on both sides.
- Bake for 15 minutes, flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings. Store leftover slices in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Reheat in the toaster or toaster oven until hot and edges get crispy.
- Toasts - here are 20+ quick and fun ideas to try!
No Cooking Required Ideas
Don't have a freezer stash or any precooked items? No problem! Here are some examples of how I used the list above to quickly put together a simple, nutritious snack.
- Crackers + cheese + fruit/vegetable (pictured: tomatoes)
- Cereal + Freeze Dried Strawberries + Milk
- Canned beans + rice cakes + apple + orange bell pepper
- A snack tray: edamame + cheese + cereal + watermelon + orange bell pepper + carrots
Don't Overthink it!
Every.single.day, we are in the kitchen making 3 meals AND snacks. It is exhausting and relentless. So let's give ourselves plenty of grace.
There will be days when you rely heavily on packaged foods, and that's perfectly OK! There is no shame in that! They exist for a reason.
Also, don't feel like you have to serve multiple foods all the time. Yes, offering variety is important, but it doesn't have to be at every eating opportunity.
Just two items are enough as long as there's a protein/fat food included. Again, this is key in making sure your child feels full until the next meal.
- Hard boiled egg + pouch
- Pumpkin Lentil Bars (from the freezer ) + veggie straws
- Cereal Bars + Babybel cheese - you can absolutely include store-bought bars. I've just found them to be so expensive, and I can easily make them at home with ingredients I already have on hand. Give these peanut butter strawberry bars a try!
- Peanut butter Rice Cake + apples + Goldfish
Toddler on-the-go snacks
Here’s a list of healthy, simple, and easy to store and carry healthy travel foods for the family, including babies and toddlers.
These are great for playdates, picnics, and school lunch boxes.