For the first half of my career, I worked as a pediatric dietitian where I spent time with primarily infants, children and their families. It was not uncommon to be asked about the best snacks for a growing keiki. Children typically like more simple tastes when compared to adults, so it’s important to keep it basic and hassle free (what busy parent can complain about that!).
Many of the snacks marketed to children in the supermarket are the opposite of healthy and commonly loaded with extra preservatives and sugar. Even “organic” labels do not guarantee a snack or product is healthy. They too, often use sugar (albeit organic) and extra ingredients that are nutrient poor.
It is imperative that growing children receive a variety of nutrient dense snack options to keep them fueled and growing optimally. Below is a list of my favorite quick snack recommendations for the growing keiki. All snack choices are appropriate for 1 years of age and up.
- Cut Up Avocado – It’s soft and creamy. Just what your toddler or growing keiki loves! Just slice it up and serve it on it’s own or use it to decorate sandwiches and salads. If you make smoothies for your little one, a little avocado will blend in nicely.
- Olives – These little morsels are packed with healthy fats and great for practicing “pincer” skills. You can cut these in half for our littlest keiki to minimize choking risk. They are portable and mess-free making them a perfect snack.
- Nitrate-Free Deli Meat – Deli meats are commonly loaded with sodium and nitrates, but if you can find an option without nitrates, you are on a better path! Packed with protein, deli meat will be gobbled up at any age.
- Lara Bars – Just check out the simple ingredients list on these bars. Most of them contain less than 5 ingredients, all of which are easy to pronounce, making them a great choice. For small children, usually 1/2 of a bar is enough, but don’t be surprised (or concerned) if they want to eat the whole thing.
- Fruit Kabobs – Stack chunks of your child’s favorite fruits on a popsicle stick and store in the fridge for on-the-go accessibility. My favorite combo is watermelon and pineapple! Yum!
- Apple “Nachos” – This is probably the healthiest version of nachos on the planet. Just slice up some apples into thin, chip-like, slices and drizzle with melted peanut or almond butter. Top with additional slivered almonds, dried cranberries and shredded coconut for delicious treat!
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes Chunks – Chop up some sweet potatoes into bite size cubes, toss with olive oil and roast in the oven (at 400 degrees F) for about 30 minutes. Top with a little sea salt and package into baggies in the fridge for a perfect snack or breakfast for your keiki. You can do the same with other root veggies like carrots, parsnips or squash.
- Chia Pudding – This is a simple recipe I initially introduced as an adult snack, but it would be perfect for kids too! If your kids are old enough, have them help you with the prep. Getting your keiki more hands-on with their food gets them more excited about eating it!
*Remember, your child may not accept a food the first time you offer it! It works just like TV advertising or marketing. The more you offer and the more they see the food, the more likely they will be to accept it! Research finds that it can take up to 10 times of offering a new food before it’s accepted.