Whether you’re heading out on vacation, a road trip, a day out of the house, a playdate, or packing a daycare or preschool lunch, these healthy toddler snacks will help keep your kiddo full and happy.
I know coming up with ideas for snacks that work well to pack and go can be a challenge, so this post is meant to offer some new ideas—as well as trusted ways to pack ideas you may already have!
I’ve included a nice mix of healthy homemade toddler snack recipes, preschool snack ideas, healthy store-bought toddler snacks, baby-led weaning snack ideas, and a few assembly-only ideas to give you a wide range of options for portable foods that are packed with nutrition.
There are sweet and savory ideas, ways to pack leftovers, and a few of our favorite store-bought products.
Plus, each idea is meant to be filling and nourishing—since I know those toddlers are often always on the go and need to refuel.
How to Pack Healthy Toddler Snacks, Step-by-Step
Here’s my general approach to packing snacks to take on the go.
- Invest in a set of durable containers to help keep the food from getting smushed. These are our favorite containers, whether you like glass, recycled plastic or stainless steel.
- Pack snacks, most of the time, that have more than one food group. Aim to include fruit or a veggie and a protein or a fat. (Having at least one item of produce and either a fat or a protein means that the snack will keep your toddler full longer.) But also remember that appetite can vary, so even if you pack a “balanced” snack, the kids may not eat all of it.
- Set dedicated snack times so you and the kids know when you plan to eat. This sort of predictable routine (i.e. afternoon snack is after we wake up from nap) can help the kids get a sense for what to expect in their day.
- Be flexible! While I always keep a snack or two in my bag for myself and my kids, there’s something to be said for going with the flow. If your toddler doesn’t want what you’ve packed or you happen to be somewhere that has delicious snack options, go for it!
- Adjust portion sizes as needed for your toddler’s appetite and age—and what they usually enjoy eating. Which is to say, try not to stress if the kids are hungrier (or less hungry) than you expect.
- Pack the snacks with an ice pack in a cooler bag if needed to keep foods safe and cool.
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This soft fruit-based snack bar is a favorite since it’s easy to chew and is low-mess. Code yummy10 for 10% off.
Blueberry Banana Muffins and Berries
Made without gluten, nuts, or dairy, these soft muffins get their flavor from two types of fruit and might be even tastier on the second (or third) day! Try topping them with a drizzle of honey or cream cheese or nut butter if allergies aren’t a concern. Half the blueberries for kids under about 14 months.
Like a cross between a fluffy blueberry muffin and baked oatmeal, these muffins are moist and packed with yummy nutrition.
Soft Granola Bars
These granola bars are a perfect make-ahead toddler snack. They are egg-free and have healthy fats and complex carbs—so they’ll provide balanced energy for your little ones. Try adding some snipped dried fruit to the batter!
We like to have these granola bars as a snack or toddler breakfast with milk or a smoothie—and they’re an excellent lunch box component too. You can make them plain or choose a flavor to add!
Whether your little one likes nut butter and jam, cream cheese and apple butter, cheese, or lunch meat, a simple sandwich, diced up is easy to pack and really satisfying for little bellies.
TIP: Cut them with kitchen scissors to make that part a breeze.
Banana Spinach Muffins
Serve up fruits and veggies in this bright, protein-packed muffin. Call it a “Hulk muffin” or some other silly name to entertain the kids! These muffins are a favorite homemade toddler snack since the batter comes together easily in the blender.
These healthy muffins taste like a delicious banana muffin, but with the added nutrition of a big handful of spinach. These store well, so you can make them ahead of time and pull them out of the fridge or freezer to serve.
Hummus and Crackers
Try packing a little container of hummus with whole grain crackers or easy to eat veggies for a balanced toddler snack.
Cheese and Crackers
Crackers are almost always universally appealing to toddlers and there are many good options that have nutritious ingredients. We like Wheat Thins, Triscuits Thin Crisps, Breton Crackers, and any other whole grain option.
If your toddler can’t do dairy, add in protein from hummus, nut butter, beans, or a nondairy milk with protein like Ripple.
Mango Yogurt and Crackers
Pair quick homemade flavored yogurt with a side of whole grain crackers for a snack that’s both satisfying and easy to pack. Pop the yogurt into a lunch bag with an ice pack to keep it cool as needed. (Yogurt is shown here in a reusable pouch.
You can use fresh or frozen mango, or start with mango puree. All three options work similarly. This is an easy way to make flavored yogurt at home for breakfast or snack.
Banana and Diced Snack Bar
Pack a banana and some diced snack bar (like a Larabar, which is soft and packed with protein and healthy fats) for an easy toddler snack. If your kiddo isn’t hungry enough for both of these foods together, just do one of them!
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls
With natural sweetness and the flavors of a favorite dessert cookie dough, these little bites are yummy and nutritious. In the case of a peanut allergy, use sunflower seed butter. (These also work well with almond butter.)
These no-bake bites taste like a cross between oatmeal raisin and peanut butter cookie dough. I use natural creamy peanut butter (like the kind from Smuckers) and it works really well. (Recipe updated slightly in June 2021 to ensure the best texture.)
Baked Oatmeal Bars with Blueberries and Carrots
Moist, flavorful, and super yummy, these gluten-free snack bars are a nice on-the-go option for toddlers. Just wrap each bar individually in plastic wrap or tuck into a compartment of a lunchbox.
These oatmeal bars taste like an oatmeal cookie and are great for breakfast or snack. You can make them ahead, too! (You can add the egg or leave it out. Without egg, these are a crisp cookie bar texture. With it, they’re a little cakier.)
This crunchy snack is not too salty and not too crisp, so they are easy for toddlers to eat. They also have protein and fiber, making them a smart snack choice. Pair with an easy fruit like a banana, apple, or a pouch of applesauce.
Strawberry Banana Bread
Dice up a slice of bread, pop it into a container, add a side of fruit (if you want) and head out for the day.
Bursting with fruit and the moistness you expect from a classic loaf, this lower-sugar Strawberry Banana Bread is a seriously delicious breakfast or snack to share with the kids.
You can buy these at most stores, or make them at home. Think of these strawberries as a sweet and super healthy chip. Pair with a form of protein, like yogurt, a cheese stick, or milk.
You can do two baking sheets at once to get a slightly larger batch—definitely do this if you’re making these for more than one kiddo! Just be sure to swap the positions of the pans halfway through baking to ensure that they bake evenly.
These savory muffins have carrots and classic pizza flavors and are a filling (and yummy!) snack option. We usually have them room temperature with water.
These work well to make ahead and warm up for an easy lunch or dinner. These taste best served warm.
Because I’ve been squirted enough times and had to change enough shirts, I always vote for putting yogurt into this reusable pouch over store bought yogurt pouches. But I do love the lower sugar yogurt tubes from Siggi’s and Stonyfield, so if your toddler can reliable eat them without making a royal mess, pack them.
The amount of ingredients you use will depend on the size of your pouch, which usually ranges from 3-7 ounces. Nutrition will vary based on the ingredients you use.
Whether it’s oatmeal, smoothie, or a bit of dinner—cubed meat or chicken, beans, pasta salad—snack time is an excellent time to get in a little extra nutrition, so using leftovers as mini meals is a smart toddler feeding strategy.
Super simple and super yummy, this is a great smoothie to make ahead (or in the moment). Pack in a reusable pouch if needed.
This fresh Mango Smoothie is thin enough to drink through a straw and thick enough to eat with a spoon. And of course, it’s super creamy!
Easy Cheese Crackers
A batch of these crackers never lasts long in our house—and they are a fun component to a packed toddler lunch box. And it’s nice because this homemade toddler snack packs whole grains, protein, and less salt than many store-bought cheese crackers.
Try to get them about 1/4-inch thick so they bake uniformly. If your milk, cheese, and butter are cold the dough should be easy to roll out between parchment paper. (If the dough seems too sticky, stick it into the fridge for 5-10 minutes.)
Copycat Little Bites
With that super tender texture and yummy flavor they expect, but a lower price and more nutrition, these are a go-to toddler snack muffin.
Moist tender Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins that taste as good as store bought, but have a little extra nutrition? Sign. Me. Up. These muffins are seriously delicious and are a must-make if you have fans of Little Bites in your house!
Dry Cereal or Puffs and Fruit
Add a side of fruit or some milk for an easy kids snack. (Halve the blueberries as needed for younger kids.)
Snack Bar and Milk
Mini Blueberry Muffins
These little muffins are big on flavor and they store really well either chilled or at room temperature. They also have a balanced mix of ingredients—protein, fat, and fruit—so they are an all-around great toddler snack.
Fluffy and perfectly moist, these little muffins have protein and calcium—plus bursts of delicious blueberries. (Like Little Bites, but with more nutrients and for less $$.) See Notes for allergy variations.
Mini Egg Cups with Cucumber Sticks
These are so perfect to make ahead and warm to serve (or pack for preschool in a little thermos if needed). Add some fruit or crackers to round things out.
Feel free to double the recipe to make a full 24 mini muffins! We like to stash these in the fridge to eat all week, so having more is usually helpful in our house.
Whole Grain Crackers and Cheese
The 12 Grain Mini Round crackers from Trader Joe’s, Triscuits, Breton, or any soft Ritz-type crackers are great options to pair with cheese for a simple snack.
It’s shown here with a DIY Fruit Cup, though any fruit you prefer would work, too.
I’m not sure what it is, but so many toddlers love snacking on whole pancakes! (Or at least my kids have as one year olds.) Pack a few small ones leftover from weekend breakfast and let them snack to their hearts’ content. This is also a favorite preschool snack idea and baby-led weaning snack.
These hearty Carrot Pancakes pack nice natural sweetness from the carrots and applesauce. This can be a thicker pancake batter, so know that you can thin it slightly, if desired, by adding a few tablespoons of milk.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post, so please comment below to share.
This post was first published May 2018.