5 Ways To Encourage Healthier Toddler Snacking
Snacks can be a healthy part of your toddler’s diet, giving them the fuel they need and helping prevent hungry tantrums. Check out our 5 simple swaps, plus a sample menu, to help make toddler snacking good for both of you!
“Get a handle on” grazing
Instead of: Letting your child graze (or snack) all day...
Try this: Give them 2 or 3 snacks at consistent times each day.
Why: When kids know they can count on another meal or snack in just a few hours, it's easier for them to stop eating when they feel full. Letting your toddler graze means they likely won’t be hungry at mealtime (and they’ll be begging for a snack 30 minutes later!).
Avoid power struggles
Instead of: Asking your child what they want or offering lots of choices…
Try this: Offer a limited choice of healthy snacks: “Do you want strawberries or banana with your yogurt?”
Why: Your toddler craves independence and control, but they need your guidance. By offering a couple of Mom-approved choices, your toddler will feel like they're in charge, even though you’re calling the shots.
Help them pay attention to their hunger cues
Instead of: Letting your toddler walk around with their snacks or take bites while playing…
Try this: Have your child sit at the table during snack time.
Why: Your toddler’s body knows when it’s hungry and full. Snacking while they're on the move can lead to mindless overeating because they're too distracted to notice their body’s signals.
Eating while walking is a choking risk at this age. Your toddler needs to sit down to eat so they can focus on chewing and swallowing their food.
Be a better snacking role model
Instead of: Serving yourself something different…
Try this: Enjoy the same healthy snack as your child.
Why: Your toddler will want to eat whatever is on your plate, healthy or not. Avoid the tantrum and enjoy a healthy snack together. You are their first and best role model!
Choose the best snacks
Instead of: Giving your toddler typical snack foods that lack nutrients, such as chips, cookies, candy or “toddler snacks” that mimic adult junk food (e.g., toddler cheese puffs, yogurt drops, baby cookies, etc.)…
Try this: Offer a balanced snack, including foods from 2 to 3 food groups.
Why: Your toddler has a small stomach and needs all the valuable nutrients they can get from healthy snacks to meet their nutrition needs. Including 2 or 3 food groups means they'll get the nutrients they needs to fuel their body until the next meal.
Try this sample snack menu
Try these wholesome foods to inspire healthy snack time:
- Whole-milk plain yogurt with berries
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Plain toasted oats cereal, sliced banana and milk
- Frozen peas (straight from the freezer) and whole-wheat noodles
- Whole-wheat pita bread with mashed avocado
- Thin bell pepper strips or cucumber with hummus or bean dip
- Hard-boiled egg and unsweetened applesauce
- Cottage cheese with canned peaches or pineapple (in 100% juice or water, not syrup)
- Plain rice cakes and leftover steamed veggies
- A slice of whole-wheat toast, pancake or waffle, cut into strips for dipping in plain yogurt
- Whole-wheat tortilla and black beans
- Half a whole-wheat English muffin or mini bagel topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella (a snack-size pizza!)