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. And make great school snacks!
Healthy Snacks for Kids
I know firsthand how daunting it can be to go to the store and attempt to buy 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 so much harder.
To help you cull through the vast choices, I’ve narrowed down my favorite shelf-stable snacks for little kids. These are great for when you need to pack preschool snacks or daycare food, but also food for kindergarten and just some time out of the house.
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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 where noted. 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, if possible. 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 simply because more than that often tastes incredibly sweet. There are so many great options out there that rely on fruit for sweetness and many mainstream granola bars that are made with less added sugars.
- Look at the first three ingredients. If they’re things like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, or another source of protein, that is a great sign that the food will be filling.
- Choose whole grain products when possible. These will be more filling with their higher fiber content, which may help keep the kids more satisfied until their next eating opportunity.
- Look for reduced sodium options, especially with foods that aren’t specifically for kids such as Triscuits. It’s okay to have some sodium and you don’t need to count or track this excessively, but if you have the option, choose the “reduced-sodium” option—they usually taste similar.
- Look at the serving size so you’re sure that you’re understanding the context of the nutrition label. And remember that portion sizes are not one size fits all and hunger and appetite are your best guides for how much food the kids need. What the label says is a serving may not actually be the serving that any one person needs.
- Look at the protein and fat content, which will give staying power to the snack so it helps keeps kids fuller longer.
- 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. But also: Some kids simply won’t be hungry enough for all of that food at snack time, so it’s also okay if that balances out more over the entire day.
TIP: There’s not really a “perfect” snack for kids, so do your best with the options you have!
Healthy Snacks for Kids: Bars
These are some of my favorite snack bars for kids. Each is a great stand alone snack and has a texture that is easy for kids to eat at school, at home, or on the go. See the specific information by each item for the details as some are better for younger toddlers than others.
These are my favorite snack for one year olds as they are super easy to chew, are made with straight forward ingredients, and are super low-mess. Both of my younger kids adore these. Use my affiliate code yummy10 to save 10% off your order.
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.
Larabars—which you may need to break in half for a younger toddler to get to a more appropriate portion–are delicious and easy to eat. 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.
Choose a peanut-free flavor if needed.
These are a pint-size version of the 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.
Made with whole-wheat flour and fruit puree, these snack bars are a nice grab-and go option that work as well for breakfast as snack time. They also come in a wide variety of flavors. Pair with milk for a little extra protein.
(Yes, these are higher in sugar due to the fruit filling. In the context of what we eat in a whole week of month, that does not concern me.)
Healthy Store-Bought Snacks for Kids: Crackers and Puffs
If you’re looking for good cracker options, these are my favorites. (My two favorite toddler crackers have recently been discontinued, sadly, but these are some nice options.)
These are widely available in most stores and come in a few flavors. I like them because they are a softer cracker that are easy for even one year olds to chew.
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.
This 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! These are best for kids over 2 or 2.5 as they are a little too crunchy for one year olds.
Made with just cheese, these crunchy cheese crackers are so delish!
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.
These peanut puffs are a sort of sweet take on a cheese puff or a baby puff and they have a pleasant, mellow flavor. You can find Bamba Puffs at Trader Joe’s too.
These contain peanuts so may not be a good option for packing for daycare or school.
These are a dehydrated puff that is made with fruit, veggies, and coconut milk. The flavor is totally delicious—I actually love them as much as my kids do. They’re a nice puff option that dissolves quickly for babies and toddlers.
Good Snacks for Kids: Fruit Snacks
Made with whole fruits, these fruit snacks are easy shelf stable options. And they each taste really good too! (I’m not saying these should be given in place of fresh fruit all the time, but sometimes is okay—especially when you need easy.) And of course, fresh fruit is a great option too!
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—the apple flavor is sweet enough!
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. Each has calcium and Vitamin D, as well as protein.
Cheese Sticks and Snack Cheeses
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 widely 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.
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 as an easy option that’s great for nondairy kiddos. And it’s just so creamy.
(Single serving plain milk can be a good snack option too!)
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.
Snacks for School
Whether you need a snack to send with lunch or something to share with the class, these options are a great place to start. We love sharing clementines, applesauce pouches, and yogurt tubes with the class if we need to contribute a snack!
TIP: Find my favorite After School Snacks here.
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.
You May Also Like
- Easy Homemade Granola Bars
- No-Bake Energy Bites
- Protein Shakes for Kids
- 25 Toddler Snacks to Take on the Go
What are your kids favorite store bought snacks? I’d love to hear in the comments, especially if I missed one here!
This post was first published June 2018.