Whether you’re on the road for vacation or just going for a stroll with your little ones, having snacks available for those unpredictable hunger attacks (or delays getting home) will help keep everyone calm and happy.
Here are 12 of the healthiest snacks on the planet for little ones:
1. Fresh fruit—Chop or slice fruit into small cubes and store in a sealable container. Fruits like small berries are perfect for little fingers, and mandarin oranges can be peeled and segmented before you go. Nutrition highlight: vitamin A and fiber.
2. Fresh veggies—Crunchy carrots, snap peas, celery matchsticks, shelled edamame (soy beans), sweet red pepper slivers, raw green beans, and asparagus are easy to hold and chomp on. You can bring along a low-fat dressing or some hummus to use as a dip, but you don’t have to. Nutrition highlight: fiber and vitamin A and C.
4. Packaged yogurt smoothie or kefir drink—Yogurt- or kefir-based drinks are a flavorful alternative to yogurt. Since this is a dairy option, you’ll need to encourage immediate consumption, or use an insulated cup to keep this beverage fresh. Nutrition highlight: calcium, vitamin D, protein, and probiotics.
5. Applesauce or other fruit sauce pouches—These are easy to transport, tasty, and a kid-pleaser. Bring along a plastic spoon, and be careful not to let your little one get in the habit of sucking on a pouch. Nutrition highlight: vitamin C.
6. Raisins or other dried fruit—Little raisin boxes are perfect for little hands! As an alternative, mix dried fruit with dry cereal for a crunchy, nutritious snack. Nutrition highlight: fiber and iron.
7. 100 percent fruit or veggie juice box—Keep juice boxes small (4-6 ounces) for little kids under age 8, and limit to one juice box a day. Nutrition highlight: vitamins A and C.
8. Dry cereal—In a box or baggie, dry cereal is a kid favorite. Go for the low sugar options (ideally less than 6 grams and up to 9 grams of sugar per serving). Nutrition highlight: calcium, iron, folate, and vitamins A and D.
9. Graham crackers—Plain graham crackers are just sweet enough but not too sweet. Grahams are whole grain and make a nice snack served alone or swiped with some peanut butter. Nutrition highlight: fiber.
10 Yogurt sticks—These are easy for the on-the-go child to handle and eat. Freeze these for a healthy frozen treat and a stand-in for popsicles or other frozen confections. Nutrition highlight: calcium and protein.
11. Granola bars—These have been a long time favorite of kids, but they can be high in sugar and fat if you’re not careful and may have a nutrition profile closer to a candy bar than anything healthy. Look for bars that have less than 8 grams of sugar per bar, showcase a couple of grams of fiber, have reasonable calories (about 150 calories per bar), use no trans fats, and contain few if any artificial ingredients. Nutrition highlight: whole grains.
12. Cookies—Try these as the occasional snack. Go for lower sugar versions or ones that offer a little more nutrition. Try Fig Newtons, oatmeal, animal crackers, or ginger snaps. Nutrition highlight: grains and yummy taste.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, September 2020
- Having snacks on hand for your little one will be helpful if you are running behind schedule or traveling.
- Fresh fruits, veggies, and yogurt are some of the best snacks for kids and are easy to manage without being too messy.
- Ginger snaps, animal crackers, and other low-sugar cookies are fine occasionally but not for everyday snacking.