Toddler-Friendly Finger Foods

Cookies, chips and crackers are easy default kids' snacks, but they're not the healthiest. Stock your pantry with these toddler-friendly foods instead.
dried apples

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Dried apples

Photo by: Issaurinko

Issaurinko

My 22-month-old, Hudson, is a great eater as far as I'm concerned. But that doesn't mean he won't dive into a bag of Goldfish crackers and devour them all. It takes a certain amount of effort to offer our little ones snacks that are nutrient rich and likeable.  Sure, its easy to fall into the rut of Cheerios, cookies and crackers and there is a place for all of this in a balanced diet. I also believe our kids learn to like the foods we give them regularly. So try these healthy snacks out for size and your little one will benefit from the added nutrition a cracker doesn't always have.

  • Beans: Like a Cheerio, beans are a great, packable, finger food. Having a cabinet full of canned beans like chickpeas and black beans is as simple as being stocked up on cereal. Pop open a can, rinse the beans and offer them as part of a meal or packaged in a baggie as a snack for on-the-go. Packed with fiber, protein and lots of nutrients this is a no-brainer. Plus, soft beans like cannellini are easy on gums.
  • Dried Fruit: A great alternative to fruit snacks, dried fruits like apples and cherries are a tasty finger food that have a good shelf life, pack easily and of source are loaded with antioxidants and nutrition. Look for no or low-sugar options.
  • Freeze-Dried Fruits: Kids like to crunch but that doesn't have to mean a cracker. Try freeze dried fruits and vegetables like Just Tomatoes, Etc.. Be aware, there are spicy flavors which I have purchased by accident -- not quite as toddler friendly;  lesson learned. Trader Joe's sells freeze-dried fruits as well. These are also great for adults who don't love the texture of vegetables.
  • Veggies are not just for dinner: Defrost a cup of frozen mixed veggies and pack them as a healthy snack. Corn, peas and carrots are naturally sweet and taste great at room temperature. You can even pack them frozen and come snack time they'll be ready to go.
  • Kale Chips: This green potato-like chip will satisfy your child's urge to crunch. Try this recipe for Kale Chips.
  • Whole Grans: I love making a batch of farro, a larger, nutty grain and offering it to Hudson as a finger food. You can also incorporate whole grains in the snack foods you are offering like KIND healthy grains, which have which have a unique blend of 100% whole grains – amaranth, quinoa, oats, millet and buckwheat -- as well as nuts and dried fruits in some flavors. My son loves the Peanut Butter Clusters.
  • Fruit Leathers: There are a variety of fruit leathers and snack on the market that are just that: fruit (with no added sugar).  That doesn't mean they are not sweet and tasty. We just found That's It. bars which are simple fruit and we love them.
What are your favorite, healthy, kid-friendly snacks?

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