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Selecting Snacks for Toddlers

With all the energy your toddler uses, his stomach can’t hold enough to keep him from getting hungry between meals. Many children need a morning and afternoon snack, which should be timed so they won’t interfere with lunch or dinner. Snacks should include a satisfying balance of healthful foods.

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers

 Fresh Fruits
  • Apples, bananas, peaches, nectarines, pears (sliced)
  • Cherries, grapes, plums (sliced or smushed and pitted)
  • Orange or grapefruit sections (cut into pieces)
  • Strawberries
 Dried Fruits
  • Apples, apricots, peaches, pears (cut up)
  • Dates, prunes (pitted, cut up)
  • Raisins
  • Carrots, green beans (well cooked, diced)
  • Steamed cauliflower, broccoli
  • Yams (cooked and diced)
  • Peas (mashed for safety; a child can inhale whole peas)
  • Potatoes (cooked and diced)
Dairy Products
  • Cheese (grated or diced)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt, fresh or frozen
  • Milk
Breads and Cereals
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Bagel cut into small pieces
  • Crackers (saltine, graham, whole grain)
  • Dry cereal
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
Meat/Protein Group
  • Fish (canned tuna, salmon, sardines; whitefish)
  • Peanut butter (smooth, spread thin on bread or cracker)

Snacks to Avoid 

Raw vegetables are mostly too difficult for toddlers to manage, and some—carrots, whole cherry tomatoes, whole green beans, celery—are a serious choking hazard for toddlers. But there’s no reason that a toddler shouldn’t enjoy well-cooked vegetables cut into manageable pieces. Big chunks of any food and glob-like spoonfuls of peanut butter are hazardous and should not be given to children younger than 4 years; the same advice is just as important for any types of nuts, peanuts, or popcorn because children aren’t able to grind food and reduce it to a consistency safe for swallowing. Chunks of peanut butter can stick to their palate and end up choking them.

Last Updated
Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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