10 On-the-Go Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers

10 On-the-Go Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers

Kale chips

Written by Mindy, Contributing Writer

I’ve never met a toddler who didn’t like to snack! Who can blame them? Snacking is fun!

Although I feel like it’s important for children to have three nutritious meals a day, I also feel like there is still a lot of room for them to enjoy healthy snacks as well. Their little minds and bodies are growing quickly. It takes a lot of energy for a little child’s body to grow into a healthy, strong, adult body.

Snacking throughout the day on healthy, nutritious foods can also help a lot with keeping blood sugar levels where they should be, which can help prevent meltdowns and tantrums.

When it comes to giving your toddler snacks, the most important thing is to make sure that they are being nourished by the snack foods that they are eating. Statistics show that in America, nearly 50% of the energy consumed by young children is “empty calories” – junk food that depletes the body of important nutrients rather than supplying the body with nutrition.

We all know that we as adults shouldn’t fill up on empty calories.  It’s even more important to a child’s growing body not to waste calorie consumption on foods that don’t nourish their bodies.

While I’ve found that it’s fairly easy to find healthy snacks while we’re at home (yogurt, fresh fruit, veggies and dip, smoothies, applesauce, etc.), it has been somewhat of a challenge for me to come up with healthy snack ideas that travel well. I finally feel like I have a rotation of healthy, nutritious snacks that don’t require spoons, and can be eaten in the car or while out and about without making a big mess.  We do often enjoy these snacks at home, but they are great for taking on-the-go also.

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

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10 On-the-Go Friendly Snack Ideas

Dried Fruit

Raisins, dried mangos, banana chips, prunes, dried apricots, dried cherries…there are so many options! Try to buy dried fruit that doesn’t have any added sugar and is sulfite-free. (We love Peeled Snacks.)  Or you could dehydrate your own fruit and save quite a bit of money!

Dried Anchovies

Okay, if you are like me, then this idea will totally turn you off at first. But try to have an open mind about it! I got the idea for dried anchovies as snacks from Kimi at The Nourishing Gourmet. They are a very frugal and nutrient-rich snack (that just happen to have a head and eyeballs still intact!)

I have to admit that I have not actually tried these myself. I just can’t get over the head and eyeball factor. But my 18 month old son loves them!  I sweetly asked my husband to try one the day I first brought them home from the store, and he said that they were okay. Not delicious, but not disgusting. I believe the trick with these are to introduce them before your child realizes that they could be considered gross!

Kale Chips

Kale chips are a great snack to replace other processed, salty snacks. They are absolutely delicious, and I actually prefer them over potato chips. What a great way to get some greens into your toddler!

Granola Bars

Homemade granola bars are so easy to make, and they are much cheaper and healthier if you make them at home. There are a lot of good recipes out there to try. This Chewy Granola Bar recipe from Heavenly Homemakers is one of our family’s favorites. Cinnamon Granola Bars is another yummy one too!

Roasted Chickpeas

These are so easy to make and are so good, too! A quick google search will show you tons of different recipes and flavorings to choose from. Here is a simple classic recipe for Crispy Roasted Chickpeas.

Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips offer a lot more nutrition than regular old potato chips. Make them at home with a healthy fat, and you have a delicious, nutritious snack sure to please any toddler!

Surprisingly had success with the fruit leather project

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Fruit Leather

Homemade fruit leather made from real fruit is so much healthier than the fruit roll-ups that you buy at the store (that are essentially nothing but sugar and other yucky stuff!). Check out these adorable polka dot fruit leather rolls – I can’t wait to try them!

Homemade Power Bars (Larabars)

Sweetened only with dried fruit, homemade larabars are an excellent choice for a healthy snack. Although these are not the most frugal snack to make, they are very nutrient dense and are great to keep in the snack rotation.

Homemade Jerky

An excellent, protein rich snack is homemade jerky. I’ve never actually made it before, but it is on my list of things to try. We have a freezer full of deer meat that will make some delicious jerky snacks!

Cold Grilled Cheese

Next time you’re making grilled cheese for a meal, make an extra, wrap it up, and store it in the fridge. This makes a perfect snack straight from the fridge that isn’t messy for traveling. Cut into bite size pieces and let your toddler snack away!

More Healthy Snack Resources

If you’re looking for more healthy snack ideas there are two ebooks that I highly recommend.

1. Healthy Snacks to Go by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship

This ebook is packed full of healthy snack ideas, including 45 recipes and lots of very helpful information. I’ve had this book since it was first released almost two years ago, and it is one of the most used cookbooks that I own. If you’re looking for more healthy snack ideas this book would definitely be worth the investment.

2. Real Food, Real Easy by a team of awesome bloggers at Modern Alternative Mama

This is a new ebook that was put together by some of my very favorite bloggers. It has an entire section devoted to snacks and appetizers, but that is really just the beginning. It contains over 70 healthy, easy recipes from lunch to dinner to sides. Check it out if you’re looking for some easy real food recipes including lots of great snacks!

I’m always looking for more ideas! What are your favorite on-the-go healthy snack ideas?

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  1. Yes I love this!
    My parents thing was to give us hard unsalted pretzels wrapped in turkey as a snack. I still eat this today.
    My husband is a total jerkey freak, we go through so much.

  2. As a dental hygienist, I would have to discourage the use of dried fruit and fruit leathers as an inbetween meal snack. The frequency of sugar intake is an important consideration in tooth decay. Even though these are “natural” sugars, they microbes in a toddler’s mouth will not discriminate. The stickiness of dried fruit and fruit leathers will leave the sugars in contact with the child’s teeth for even longer than some other sugary treat.

  3. Love these ideas! I’m going to try the chick peas soon. One of our favorite snacks is homemade dip with veggies or something to dip. To make dip I mix strained yogurt, roasted onions and garlic, and dill, or whatever herbs I feel like. It is so good and my kids devour it every time.

  4. I’m with you sister….I couldn’t eat anything with eyeballs in it. Of course, Trenton is a boy, so he’d probably think it was “cool” even when he got older. 🙂

  5. Thanks, these are wonderful. I have been meaning to make Larabars for some time now. I often buy them at the store and the kick myself when I see what they are made out of. Under ingredience there is listed 5 things or less. I must make them. Tonight!
    Also one could try yogurt leathers. They are dehydrated and then rolled up like fruit leathers.
    Happy snacking

  6. my favorite snack to make my kids (and myself actually!) is homemade hummus. it is so easy and my kids love to dip. we can go through a whole 5 lbs costco bag of organic baby carrots in like 3 days if we have hummus around.

    i love kale chips too, but haven’t had kale in our csa produce box lately… you inspired me to make it again though as soon as it is in there. i love them with nutritional yeast and a pinch of cayenne on them. mmmm good!

  7. I really like the Kale chip recipe. Kale is one of my favorite vegetables and I love to use it in hearty soups. It so full of great vitamins and nutrients everyone should add some regularly to their diet. Thanks for sharing this post.

  8. I have to agree with Charis. Hummus is a winner. My kids also LOVE freeze dried fruits, veggies and yogurt.

  9. I give my toddler frozen peas or corn for a good on the go snack. They stay fresh until you need them because they start out frozen. Thank you for the good ideas.

  10. I read your post and immediately made the Chewy granola bars – they are sooo good. I was surprised they didn’t need to be baked – I should keep this recipe in mind when making food in the hot summer months – no hot oven. I’ve recently discovered kale chips and well, don’t tell anyone, but I can eat a whole head of kale by myself – they are that good. But my kids fight for them, as well, which makes this mom secretly do the happy dance inside my head – seriously – my kids are scrambling to get more dark, leafy greens!!!!!. I will be making the roasted chickpeas for an after school snack later on today – a first for us. Thanks for the great ideas! They inspire me to continue to find healthy options for my family.

  11. Wow, this post is chock full of great ideas, Mindy! I have a question–where do you get the anchovies? Not sure if they would go over w/ my 3 1/2-year-old but perhaps with my 1-year-old? It’s worth a try? I know I could never. We were served a lot of food w/ eyeballs, etc. attached on a mission trip to China (before kids)…an it was hard to keep the rest of our food down. 😉

    I have really been wanting to try kale chips–and now I will add sweet potato chips to that list! I have some kale in the fridge….Hmmmmm….

    My girls eat lots of frozen peas. They love them. I would think they would get old, but they ask for them all the time. They also love chickpeas, but I just serve them cooked. I need to roast them. I bet they’d love the crunch! They also love hummus!

    I absolutely love the Healthy Snacks to Go book–and it’s even better now that’s she’s updated and added a ton more recipes! And thanks for the shout-out on Real Food, Real Easy. 🙂 We worked really hard on that book!

    1. Sweet potato fries are one of my kids favorite things… they are soooo good. And another yummy option that is similar in taste/texture to kale chips is buying seaweed paper. We get ours at a local Asian store, and we buy the stuff made with grapseseed oil (because all the other ones are things like canola and soy and corn oil). It’s just slightly salted and full of nutrients. My kids love it.

      1. Yay! I’ll have to check into the seaweed paper. We’ve been looking for ways to include more seafoods in our diet but it’s a little hard in our landlocked Midwestern state.

        Love all the other ideas as well! Our baby girls is not a toddler {yet} but these will be so handy once she gets there. I’m putting the ebooks on my wish list!

  12. These ideas aren’t just for toddlers! I love little bite sized snacks! We also munch on nuts (almonds specifically), boiled eggs, peanut butter, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, cheese slices & homemade popcorn of various flavors. Thanks for the list of ideas!

  13. I love this list. Except maybe the anchovies, lol. I don’t think I could even buy them. We love the polka dot fruit leather! So much fun. And crispy chickpeas are popular, although I don’t make them as often as I could. One of my favorites is Skinny Monkey cookies: http://onceamonthmom.com/skinny-monkey-cookies/ – no sugar!

  14. Mindy, thanks for sharing my Kale Chip post, those are soooo good! Great suggestions! I still want to make my own fruit leather!

  15. I’m curious about something…I made kale chips and the texture was like crumbly dried leaves rather than crunchy. There wasn’t really anything to chew – it just sort of disintegrated. What do you all think I did wrong? Thanks for any help!

  16. Have you had venison jerky? I love beef jerky, but I like beef in general. I don’t generally like venison-but the hubby brings it home every year and I don’t know what to do with it all! Jerky might solve a lot of problems. How does it compare?

    1. I’ve had all kinds of jerky and venison and beef are very similar once the spices are added. I love them both!

  17. You just reminded me. I’ve been meaning to try the kale chips. My kids eat kale that is braised, but I’ve been hearing so many good things about kale chips that I can’t wait to try. Mental note………make kale chips! thanks… I’ve a pretty messy 16 month old that thinks eating is his JOB. So I really need to get on the ball with some of these snack ideas.

  18. I made kale chips last night for the first time and couldn’t believe how good they were. They really taste like potato chips! I brought some into work today and my co-workers, who originally cringed at the sight of them, all wanted the recipe. Thank you for sharing! I’m looking forward to trying the granola bars next.

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