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Healthy Snacks for Toddlers (1 to 3 Year Olds Will Love!)

Are you giving your toddler the same snacks every day? My list of snack ideas for toddlers will offer you fresh inspiration while adding nutrients to the diet of your growing toddler.

Healthy snacks for toddlers should be flavorful, nutritious, and a bit challenging for the palate, whether it be from texture, spice, or other.

Do toddlers even need snacks? If so, how many each day? Should they be sit-down snacks or is it okay to eat them on the go? How about eating snacks in the stroller?

As a pediatric nutritionist, I view snacks for toddlers through the lens of nutrition, growth, and development. I think about a toddler’s tummy: its size, digestion abilities, and the speed at which food contents move through.

I consider the high nutrient requirements of the toddler and the limited space (the tummy) to hold food. I also know how important it is to develop nutritious flavor preferences, good eating habits, and a sense of adventure with trying new foods early on.

And if you’ve got a picky eater, snacks can help you make sure your toddler is getting enough nutrition.

smiling toddler ready for a healthy snack
All toddlers need healthy snacks. All parents need healthy snack ideas for their toddler!

Do Toddlers Need Snacks?

Yes, they do, and here’s why: Small stomachs mean that young toddlers can’t (and won’t) eat large portions of food in one sitting. They need an eating schedule that offers frequent eating opportunites throughout the day.

I typically recommend 3 meals and 3 snacks each day, spaced out every 2 to 3 hours.

Snacks for toddlers should be just as nutritious, interesting, and flavorful as meals, even if they’re store-bought. I want you to think of toddler snacks as a ‘mini meal.’

A smaller number of food items (2 or 3) and small portions.

Need a refresher on portion sizes for toddlers? Read: Toddler Portion Sizes

I view healthy snacks for toddlers through a lens of nutrition, growth and development.

~Jill Castle, MS, RDN

I also want you to consider snack time as an opportunity for your toddler to try new foods, become exposed to different flavors, and experience new textures. Oh, and don’t forget it’s a time to practice independent food exploration and self-feeding!

There’s a lot of potential good stuff happening. So, yes, there are benefits to nutritious snacks for the toddler. 

healthy Toddler Snack Ideas Mega List

Choking Hazards and Snacks

There will be more adventure with eating as you offer your toddler new foods and you should be cautious about potential choking hazards.

Remember, eating skills are developing. Never leave your young child alone while he’s eating, and for very young toddlers, stay alert to their eating capabilities.

Always modify the texture and size of food to match your toddler’s skills. Focus on finger food at this stage and gradually teach your little one to use utensils.

Common Choking Hazards:

A few foods can be problematic for the toddler – take care to avoid these:

  • Candy and chewing gum (these are the most common culprits of choking in young children)
  • Small, hard pieces of food (raw, hard vegetables like carrots)
  • Large pieces of food (these can block the airway if not chewed thoroughly)
  • Round, cylindrical shapes such as whole grapes, hot dogs, string cheese sticks, and meat sticks (quarter or cut smaller before serving)
  • Slippery or smooth foods such as large pieces of fruit with skin on, whole pieces of canned fruit, fruit with membranes like oranges
  • Dry or hard foods may be challenging to chew such as popcorn, nuts and seeds, chips, pretzels, and trail mix
  • Sticky or tough foods such as peanut butter, tough meat, marshmallows, dried fruit, and chewy candy

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers (Age 1 to 3 Year Olds)

It can be so easy to pull out the same orange cheesy crackers and milk every day at snack time, but you’d be missing a golden opportunity to broaden your child’s diet. I’ve compiled this list to inspire your creativity with easy toddler snacks, while simultaneously creating opportunities for more nutrition and flavor. 

Two toddlers eating a snack.

Fruit Snacks

There are lots of good fruit items for toddlers. From fresh to freeze-dried, add some of these to your snack rotation. Plus, these are full of vitamin C.

Fresh Fruit Snack Ideas

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Sliced apples (Peel the skin as needed)
  • Banana
  • Sliced peaches, nectarines and apricots (stone fruits – peel the skin as needed)
  • Grapes (quartered or cut into 1/8ths)
  • Clementine and oranges (peel and separate; cut each section into halves or thirds)
  • Cubed melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)

Packaged Fruit Options

  • Applesauce cups
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Fruit cups like mandarin oranges or mixed fruit cocktail (in natural, or own, juices)
  • Fruit puree blends in pouches

Dried Fruits

  • Raisins
  • Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • 100% Fruit leather
  • Dried clementine, apricots, prunes (cut into smaller pieces)
  • Freeze-dried fruit “chips”

Veggie Snacks for Toddlers

Blanch raw vegetables so they’re tender and easier to chew. Also, slice, cube or chop veggies into small pieces for easier eating.

  • Blanched carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc
  • Thawed peas
  • Cubed or thinly sliced “fingers” of cucumber (peel skin as needed)
  • Thinly sliced sweet peppers (red, yellow, green bell pepper)
  • Cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • Thawed edamame
  • Low sodium canned green beans, artichoke hearts (drained)
  • Cubed avocado

Try to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Fun Dips for Snack Time

Toddlers love to feed themselves and experience food. You’ll hear “Me do it!” more and more as your toddler gains independence and confidence with eating.

Dips are a perfect way (and a good idea) to encourage independence and autonomy.

  • Hummus
  • Guacamole/mashed avocado
  • Salsa (red or green)
  • Low-fat cream cheese (try flavored versions like strawberry, chive, vegetable, etc)
  • Nut butter (peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, etc), sunflower seed butter, or other seed butters
  • Salad dressing (Ranch, Italian, French, Bleu Cheese, etc)
  • Yogurt (try plain yogurt mixed with a little bit of sriracha or salsa for a savory, spicy dip)
  • Applesauce, peach sauce, or other fruit purees
  • Maple syrup
Pumpkin muffins with chocolate chunks


Muffins are a vehicle for all sorts of nutrient “goodies.” If you haven’t tried veggie muffins, they’re a great way to add in zucchini or carrots, for instance. Try making the ‘mini’ versions of muffin recipes so your toddler can easily hold them. Here are some of my muffin recipes:

Whole Grain Snacks for Toddlers

A taste and preference for whole grains is important to establish in early childhood, especially as young children expand their diets.

Fiber in food can also be very helpful as toddlers learn to toilet train.

  • Whole wheat crackers like Triscuits
  • Whole wheat pretzels
  • Whole wheat mini pitas (soft version)
  • Brown rice crackers and brown rice cakes
  • Whole wheat toast triangles (spread nut butter or melt a slice of cheese on top)
  • Graham crackers
  • Quinoa puffs
  • Whole grain waffle (mini or regular size)
  • Whole wheat macaroni (cooked)
  • Whole grain sandwich sticks (make a sandwich and cut into “fingers”)

Crunchy Snacks

Toddlers love crunchy foods. Take care to look for items that boast some good nutrients and choose those containing lower sodium levels (children aged 1 to 3 years should get no more than 1500 milligrams of sodium per day).

  • Veggie chips or sticks
  • Low sugar cereals (Cheerios, Kix, Chex, Puffins, etc)
  • Quinoa chips
  • Snap pea crisps
  • Mini brown rice cakes

Not sure which cereals would be best for your child? Read Best Cereals for Kids.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods offer a punch of nutrients including protein, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, and more. Don’t get stuck on offering American or cheddar cheese all the time…step it up with a variety of dairy options.

  • Full fat yogurt (plain or low sugar varieties)
  • Drinkable yogurt or smoothies
  • Yogurt sticks
  • Kefir (unflavored or flavored)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Sliced or cubed cheese
  • Glass of milk
  • Homemade smoothie

I’ve got help for choosing the best yogurt for kids and the latest on whole milk!

Protein-Based Snack Ideas (Meat/Beans/Nuts/Egg)

While some of these protein-containing foods may seem more like lunch items, they can be served as part of a healthy snack, too.

  • Hard-boiled egg (sliced or cubed)
  • Cubed turkey, low sodium ham, or chicken
  • Tuna fish salad (use as a dip or spread)
  • Canned beans (black beans, chick peas; rinse before serving)
  • Deli meat roll-ups (sliced/chop as needed)
  • Nut butters (use as a spread or dip)
  • Chopped nuts (cashews, walnuts)
  • Hummus
  • Black bean dip

Feeling inspired with fresh ideas? I hope so!

*Below, you will find an Amazon affiliate link for my book. Clicking on this supports this website.

Need more help with your child’s snacking? Check out this resource!

Want to learn more about making snacks?

Check out:

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