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 between meals.
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. 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.
School Snacks 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 their 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.
Healthy Toddler Snack Foods
When researching for this post, I kept littler kids in mind to ensure that each item would be appropriate for a toddlers chewing ability. Some (many?) snacks marketed to kids are way to chewy or crispy for toddlers, so I omitted them. As an example, I really wanted to include the RX Kids bars because I love the adult ones for myself, but I find them to be far too chewy for my two year old. So keep that in mind when reading!
How to Choose Healthy Store Bought Snacks, 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).
- If there aren’t added sugars listed, look at the ingredients and see what the first three ingredients are. If they’re things like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, or another source of protein, that is a good sign.
- Whole grains are always a good ingredient to see on a label!
- If buying snacks that aren’t specifically for kids, try to get a reduced-sodium option. 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.
- If a snack doesn’t have any protein or fat in it, that’s okay—just try to pair it with a drink (milk or a smoothie) or another food (avocado cubes, nut butter, hard cooked egg) that does to ensure long lasting energy.
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Bars
KIND Kids Granola Chewy Bar: 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.
My Superfoods Maple Vanilla Granola Bars: 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.
Ella’s Kitchen Nibbly Fingers: 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!
Mini Larabars: 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 toddlers—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!)
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Crackers & Crisps
Bitsy’s Brainfood Smart Crackers: 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.
Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps: 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.
Back to Nature Sweet Potato Cinnamon Crackers: These have less sodium than cheese crackers but are equally satisfying. (We also like their gluten-free options!)
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Fruit Snacks
That’s It: 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.
Freeze-Dried Fruit: There are all sorts of brands of dehydrated fruit on the market now (I love the options at Trader Joes since they are affordable), and since they dissolve easily in a child’s mouth, they are a good shelf-stable fruit option.
Dried fruit: 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. Again we try to pair with a source of protein like dairy to keep energy levels stable.
Stretch Island Fruit Leather: 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: 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.
Easy Snacks for Kids
I love relying on some of these store-bought foods, in addition to cheese sticks, yogurt sticks, and single serve milk if you’re okay with packing in a cooler bag with an ice pack. It can make things so much easier when it comes to keeping the kids fueled throughout the day.
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 toddler’s favorite store bought snacks? I’d love to hear in the comments!
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