Use this list of the best healthy snacks for kids that you can buy at the store and keep on hand in the pantry to keep the littles nourished in between meals. Each is low in added sugar, high in nutrients, and easy to pack and eat.
Healthy Snacks for Kids
I know firsthand how daunting it can be to go to the store and attempt to buy healthy snacks for kids. You’re not alone there! There are just SO many darn options and often, the ingredients lists and labels seem to make understanding what’s really in each snack harder. To help you cull through the vast choices, I’ve narrowed down my favorite shelf-stable snacks for little kids.
Snack Ideas for Kids
I’m including granola bars, snack bars, crackers, fruit bars, fruit leather, and freeze-dried and dried fruit here—all things that won’t spoil should they hang out in your bag (or in a backpack)—for a while. And since so many daycares, schools, and facilities are peanut-free or nut-safe, all of these are free from peanuts except the Larabar. Do always read the labels just to double check that they comply with the standards you might be after.
When researching this post, I kept littler kids in mind to ensure that each item would be an appropriate toddler snack food. But each snack totally works for a big kid too!
How to Choose the Best Healthy Snacks for Kids, Step-by-Step
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when buying healthy store bought snacks for kids (and also for yourself!)
- Look for a minimal amount of added sugars. Many labels now have this separated out and lower is better. For a snack like a bar, I aim for no more than 5-8 grams (and try to stay closer to the lower range).
- Look at the first three ingredients. If they’re things like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, or another source of protein, that is a good sign. If it’s sugar, cane sugar, honey, sucralose, or something related to sugar, I’d probably pass them over.
- Choose whole grain products when possible.
- Look for reduced sodium options, especially with foods that aren’t specifically for kids such as Triscuits. Many snack foods are seriously high in salt!
- Look at the serving size so you’re sure that you’re understanding the context of the nutrition label.
- Look at the protein and fat content, which will give staying power to the snack. Avoid foods with transfats if possible.
- Combine foods if the main snack doesn’t have protein or fat. Add a drink like milk, drinkable yogurt, kefir, or a smoothie or another food such as avocado cubes, nut butter, or hard cooked egg that has protein and/or fat to ensure long lasting energy.
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Bars
With 25% less sugar than the leading kids’ granola bar and a chewy, but not too chewy, texture, these new granola bars are a great option for kids. They come in three flavors—Honey Oat, Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip—and are frankly totally delicious.
These soft whole grain bars have a texture that’s perfect for 1 and 2 year olds (though older kids may like them a lot too!) and a flavor that’s really yummy. The size of this bar is also perfect for snack time, or as a bedtime snack.
While not new, these are my go-to bars for new toddlers and 1 year olds since they are soft and easy to chew, and small in size. Older toddlers may need two to fill their bellies!
Half the size of traditional Larabars, mini bars are a perfect toddler size. The flavors are soft—you may want to cut them into cubes for younger kids—and they have a nicely balanced mix of fruit and nuts for energy and protein. (You can of course also cut a regularly sized Larabar in half too!) Choose a peanut-free flavor if needed.
These are a pint-size version of the grown up bars that are so wildly popular. They may be too chewy for a two year old, but work well for slightly older kids. Try the different flavors to find the ones that your kids prefer. Check nut regulations at your school before sending these if needed.
These have peanut in them, so avoid them if needed for sending to a nut-safe school or center, but we love both flavors (especially the chocolate chip ones) and love that they are made with fresh ingredients. Check nut regulations at your school before sending these if needed.
Healthy Store-Bought Snacks for Kids: Crackers & Crisps
With whole grains and extras like chia seeds, these crackers—which come in fun triangle shapes—are wholesome, not too salty, and have a great flavor. We like the sweeter ones like the Sweet Maple Carrot as well as the more savory ones like Cheddar Chia Veggie. And the snack packs are a perfect size for toddlers.
Many pretzels and chips can be too crunchy and sharp for younger eaters, but these crispy pea snacks are easy to crunch as they sort of dissolve in a child’s mouth after the initial bite. They are also high in protein and fiber, making them a healthy option when a salty snack is in order.
These have less sodium than cheese crackers but are equally satisfying. (We also like their gluten-free options!)
This version of the classic cracker is lower in sodium than the original and they contain just a handful of very straight forward ingredients. Plus, they taste so good!
You’re going to think I’m exaggerating, but these are SO good. They taste just like cheese puffs but are packed with protein since they are made from chickpeas. Nourishing and delicious. Their Ranch flavor is also good.
You might have seen this puffed cheese snack at Starbucks, but it’s worth a look if you want a high protein snack that stores well and tastes great. Snyder’s also makes a version. (Be sure to pair it with water or a hydrating fruit like melon or grapes as it’s pretty high in sodium, which naturally occurs in cheese.)
These peanut puffs are a sort of sweet take on a cheese puff with a lot of protein to boot. You will find these at Trader Joe’s and in my experience, kids either love them or don’t!
Good Snacks for Kids: Fruit Snacks
Made with whole fruits, these fruit snacks are more nutritious versions of those gummy fruit snacks your kids probably love. The good news? These all taste really good too! (I’m not saying these should be given in place of fresh fruit all the time, but sometimes is okay.)
These all fruit bars are made with, yes, just fruit. They are soft and not too chewy, so they’re a good option for younger toddlers too. We like to pair them with milk (dairy or non-dairy) to make a balanced snack.
There are all sorts of brands of dehydrated fruit on the market now (I love the options at Trader Joes and Whole Foods), and since they dissolve easily in a child’s mouth, they are a good shelf-stable fruit option.
Raisins are a go-to snack—many toddlers simply enjoy the novelty of them in those tiny boxes!—so I try to keep some on hand for on the go. You can also try dried apricots, cherries, apples, or mango. We try to pair with a source of protein like dairy for a balanced snack.
It’s not always easy to pack fresh fruit so having this as an option can come in handy. Look for fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice. (Fyi, when a nonorganic label says “no added sugar” it likely has artificial sweetener in it, so keep that in mind and check the label.) There are newer options packed in coconut water too, though they often have a little added sugar (which may or may not be important to you).
In our house, fruit leather is a special snack and I’ve found that the Stretch Island variety is the least sticky. (Some of them are crazy sticky and messy!) I always bring some when we travel and pair it with a source of protein.
Applesauce pouches are always handy to have on hand when fresh fruit is hard to come by or might not travel well. I tread lightly with pouches before 2 since my kids always had a tendency to squirt them all over the place, but otherwise, these are a good option. Look for ones without added sugars to avoid unnecessary sweeteners.
Best Dairy Snacks for Kids
If you have the option to pack a snack with an ice pack in a thermos, these snack ideas for kids are good to keep in mind.
Whether mozzarella or Colby or cheddar, a cheese stick is a classic snack that’s a nice source of protein and calcium.
Companies including Roth, Sargento, and Arla make these small rectangular snack cheeses that are perfect for kids. Look for them near the shredded cheese in your store.
There are loads of yogurt tubes available for kids, though I’m partial to the Siggis strawberry and blueberry ones since they are so low in added sugars. The YoGurt Simply is a nice runner up that’s more wildly available.
Another high five to a Siggis product: Their small bottles of drinkable yogurt make for a portable smoothie snack that’s rich in protein and probiotics.
Single Serving Milk
Either a traditional carton or a shelf stable pack that comes with a straw, milk is a solid snack option too.
I sometimes buy these little containers for myself—they’re that good! This plant-based nondairy chocolate milk is rich in protein but low in added sugars. And it’s just so creamy.
These are labeled as baby yogurt but I think they’re a great option for any kiddo who likes yogurt. It’s so nice that there are some veggies in the mix and they have little added sugars.
Homemade Snacks for Kids
If you want to make homemade snacks or just need more ideas, check out my Master List of Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids and Toddlers.
What are your kids favorite store bought snacks? I’d love to hear in the comments!