Back-To-School Healthy Snacks For Toddlers and Kids

With Back to School upon us, and my big kid entering Junior Kindergarten, I want to make sure he has enough energy to play and learn all day.

Sometimes it’s a struggle to think of healthy snacks for toddlers and bigger kids. Many parents end up sending sugar and salt-laden, highly processed foods, which, though yummy, will not sustain your child’s energy levels all day. This may lead to a less focused and interested student.

Here are my favorite school (and weekend outing) healthy snack ideas for kids:

Cheese

Cheese is an easy thing to pack and is full of healthy protein and calcium. It comes in so many forms, from sliced cheddar cheese to cubes to cottage cheese, to suit all tastes.

Sliced vegetables

A staple in my fridge is sliced peppers, carrots, and cucumber. Always at the ready, sitting cut in strips and in cold water, these are easy and colorful snacks. Full of nutrients and fiber, sliced veg are a great go-to snack for little (and big) hands.

Fruit

In their natural state or cut into strips or cubes (or fun shapes if you’re motivated), fruit is high in fiber and nutrients. Sweet and easy to eat, fruit is a great hydrator as well, as fruits are mostly water. Great for on-the-go. My kids love banana slices, apple slices, nectarines, peaches, and berries.

Nut butter alternative

Peanut butter and almond butter used to be a staple in many kid’s lunches when I was growing up. With so many more kids suffering from food allergies and more public awareness, less peanut butter should be showing up at schools and public places.

Smart companies now make peanut-butter-alternative and nut-free butter such as Wow Butter that has fantastic protein and will provide your child with energy till dinnertime.

Whole-grain crackers

Crackers are an easy thing to take to school and can be eaten on their own or with cheese, butter, or other spreads to provide energy and fiber to your growing kid. Whole-grain crackers or graham crackers paired with a nut or seed butter is a tasty snack for picky eaters.

Fruit and vegetable bars

For kids that are less inclined to eat whole fresh fruit, fruit and veg bars are a decent alternative occasionally. Made of pureed fruit and veg, they are a compact, easy-to-transport option with high fiber and some nutrients found in whole fruit and veg.

Don’t eat too many at snack time, they are much higher in calories than their fresh counterpart, with less fiber.

Dried fruit

Options such as raisins, dried apricots, and dates are energy-dense, high in protein and fiber, and kids think they are candy. Careful of the serving sizes and ensure you brush teeth carefully as they are sticky!

Whole-grain cereal

A handful of high fiber, low sugar cereal is an easy and nutritious snack, even without milk. Easy to pack and compact.

Yogurt

Available in cups and tubes and drinks, yogurt is a protein and calcium powerhouse. Try out lower sugar options – many yogurt options are full of unnecessary sugar. Add dried fruit and whole-grain cereal and you have an awesome, well-rounded snack.

Hummus

One of my kids’ favorite snacks is vegetable sticks dipped in hummus. The combo provides a great source of fiber and protein, you can even accompany it with raw veggies like carrot slices and cherry tomatoes.

Smoothies

Especially on the run, a fruit smoothie is one of my favorite snack options. You can put in whatever you want in the smoothie recipe: fruit, veg, grains, and healthy fats such as flax, chia, and nuts. I don’t recommend drinking all your calories, but for picky kids, smoothies are nutritious and thirst-quenching if you choose smart ingredients. Check out some smoothie suggestions here.

Popcorn

High in fiber and kid-friendly, popcorn is a great alternative to traditional snack food like chips and cookies. Don’t offer to children younger than 4-5 years though, as they are a choking hazard due to small, lightweight pieces that can be aspirated.

Hard-Boiled Egg

Hard-boiled eggs are great healthy toddler snacks. Kids eat these as something satisfying between meals, hard-boiled eggs can be just what the doctor ordered.

Children need to eat healthy and clean. Eating processed packaged snacks can have negative effects on them in the future, so it is important that they eat a balanced diet of nutritious foods with few additives or preservatives.

To make healthy meals easier for parents there are some simple strategies one could implement such as pre portioning your toddler’s meals into grab-and-go containers. This will make them convenient foods and help ensure kids get all their nutrients.

Snack away and enjoy!!!

Click here for some great breakfast ideas and suggestions for avoiding juice. 

FAQ’S

What is the most popular snack?

Plain Yogurt or Greek Yogurt is a great food for babies and children because it’s rich in calories, fat, protein, calcium with added iodine which can be hard to get from non-dairy sources.

What is the best healthy snack?

Cottage cheese is a fresh and creamy soft cheese that has high protein, calcium, vitamin B12 content. This makes it beneficial for infants to eat as well since they need proper brain development in children.

What is the best toddler snacks?

These are some popular toddler snack ideas: Sweet potatoes, homemade cute little muffins, bell peppers, carrot sticks, freeze-dried fruit. Simple natural food is always the better choice against many packaged snacks. Store-bought snacks tend to have unwanted sugars and preservatives.

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Dr. Dina Kulik Pediatrician at Kidcrew Medical, Toronto Ontario

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About Dr. Dina Kulik MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dr. Dina Kulik completed her Pediatrics Residency and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information through television, radio, print media, and via her blog DrDina.ca. Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family, and being the mom of four crazy boys.

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