“Mama Has Snacks” is my twitter handle and, not so surprisingly, many people ask me about my favorite toddler snacks. As a general rule they need to be self-contained, easy to keep, and healthy. And of course, loved by both of my very picky eaters! Here are my top five go-to snacks:
1. Cheese Sticks. Mozzarella, Cheddar, Monterrey Jack – most snack companies make a variety of bite-sized flavors for your little ones. Full of calcium and protein, they are healthy and easy to eat. Bonus: with appropriate fat content, these little snacks will keep your kids full through an afternoon grocery store excursion.
2. Multi-Grain Cheerios. It’s true these are lightly sweetened, but it’s just enough to make them feel like a treat without the sugar crash side-effects. I am a huge fan of Snack-Traps full of these snacks offering your children. The most rewarding part of watching my kids eat them? Knowing they are iron fortified – one serving has half of their daily recommended amount – which is very important for me since my children don’t eat meat.
3. Raisins. These are packed full of vitamins and nutrients for your little ones – including antioxidants, fiber, protein and calcium. It’s true the sugar content is high but it is natural (not processed) sugar and can be digested and used by their bodies without the dreaded “sugar high.”
4. Fresh fruit. So many parents worry about their children’s vegetable intake that they forget the value of fruit. My pediatrician reminded me that fruits and veggies are in the same nutritional category and that it is more important to make sure they get a wide variety of fruits than even a single veggie. To get the most out of the vitamins and anti-oxidant benefits, try to get a wide variety of colors into their regular diet (according to season of course). My kids love grapes (red, green and black), cantaloupe, strawberries, blackberries, watermelon, blueberries and bananas. When they aren’t in season I buy organic frozen varieties.
5. Squeezable veggies. I know I just said not to worry about veggies, but I still do. My kids won’t eat them. Then I discovered the many varieties of squeezable veggie packs. My favorite brands: Ella’s (Butternut, Carrots, Apples and Prunes), Happy Baby (Broccoli, Peas and Pears also Spinach, Mango and Pear) and Plum (Blueberry, Pear and Purple Carrot). All organic and all loved by both my kids, these are just a win-win. Don’t let the baby good label throw you off: my 19-month-old and my 3.5 year old guzzle these down daily. Helpful tip: Amazon sells them at great prices.
Many toddlers are picky eaters and my two make mealtimes very challenging. It’s your task to keep those finicky tummies full so they can keep learning and exploring the world. And if you see me on the streets of NYC, ask me if I have snacks. You will never catch me without a supply of each one of these in my bag. Go ahead, try me.
Photo Credit: http://outvend.com