As your child begins to eat solid foods around 4-6 months, having healthy snacks on the go will be a life saver for you. They’ll soon want to begin feeding themselves, which means these snacks need to be fresh and accessible.
You definitely want to encourage their enthusiasm with finger foods that are easy to prepare, pack, and clean. You also want to make sure they’re age appropriate, but many of these are appropriate for all ages, depending on how you prepare them.
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First Finger Foods
For babies who are just beginning to wean, prevent choking by avoiding hard, round, sticky, or chewy foods. Raw carrots, slices of hot dogs, whole grapes, peanut butter, and gummy candies are not great snack ideas at this age.
Instead, for children 9 months of age and younger, focus on foods that are easy to pick up and self feed, that dissolve easily on the tongue, or that can be squished in between fingers. Once your child is able to grasp objects, you can begin to feed them diced foods.
Babies and younger toddlers can handle all kinds of soft fruits. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Strawberries (be careful here because these are some of the most common food allergies)
For something like an apple, it’s important to note the progression of feeding to a baby, toddler, and older child. At first, you will need to steam and mash it, or even make it into applesauce. You can also shred it or cut it into matchsticks.
A toddler can handle larger slices, while an older child will be able to eat a whole apple.
Bananas should be sectioned, but left in large enough pieces that your child can pick up and will not choke.
Smaller fruits like raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries should be halved if they’re large and strawberries, kiwi, watermelon, and cantaloupe should be diced.
Experiment with plenty of different textures while your baby is young. Some kids love different textures and flavors while others don’t. For serving clementines, remove the outer membrane and mash them. You can also serve canned mandarin oranges in water with no added sugar.
Raw vegetables are a bit too hard for babies to chew, but there are several ways you can prep them. There are some vegetables that work well raw, and surprisingly, babies will love them.
- Broccoli florets
- Butternut squash
- Cherry tomatoes
- Cauliflower florets
- Sweet potato
- Snap peas
- Yellow squash
- Frozen peas (thawed)
- Frozen corn (thawed)
- Frozen edamame (thawed)
Avocado is soft enough to serve as is, just cube or slice it first. Your baby will love squishing it between their fingers and will likely love the flavor. Plus, it’s packed full of healthy fats and oils, so you’ll love the nutrition.
Steam or roast broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, or carrots until they’re soft enough to eat. You can also shred carrots for younger babies or serve them diced for older children.
Slice or dice cucumbers and snap peas, and halve or quarter cherry tomatoes like you would a fruit. Thaw your frozen peas, corn, and edamame before you give it to a baby, but for older toddlers, they may like it still frozen.
You may find that your baby likes some of these flavors and not others, but try mixing them, too. If your baby hates cauliflower, but loves broccoli and sweet potatoes, roast all three together and give it a try.
Most parents start in with fruits and vegetables and forget that dairy comes in so many different forms that make it a great finger food, too! Check out some of these suggestions!
- Diced or shredded cheese
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Yogurt drops
As long as it’s soft and easy to chew, and your baby’s doctor has given you the signal, you can feed meat to your baby. Here are some good ideas for first finger foods:
- Ground or shredded beef
- Diced, ground, or shredded chicken
- Deli meat
- Diced or shredded salmon
- Diced, ground, or shredded turkey
- Diced or shredded white fish
5. Legumes and nuts
Legumes and nuts sometimes have to be mashed, roasted, and softened in some way to make them easier to eat. Be cautious as you experiment with these things, because nuts are some of the most common food allergies in babies. Here are some suggestions:
- Finely chopped walnuts and cashews
- Nut butter on sticks or crackers
- Frozen peas (thawed)
6. Whole grains
These are easy to cook from scratch or serve in things like muffins and breads. They’re nutritious and easy for babies to eat, but even older kids love most grains and still eat them as they grow.
- Oatmeal (any flavor)
- Toast (softened with butter)
- French toast
- Snack bars
Things like crackers, snack bars, muffins, and toast are easy to pack up and take on the road, but they can be messy. Of course, anything with a new baby is relatively messy.
Oatmeal is a great finger food because, while messy, is delicious, and you can customize it however your baby likes it with a variety of fruits and other flavor combinations. Oatmeal is versatile. You can make it thick or runny. You can use milk, water, or soy. You can make it any way that works for you and your family.
And, of course, French toast and pancakes are a staple of any Saturday morning breakfast meal. Your baby will love digging into the soft, maple-y, delicious goodness.
Baby and Toddler Snacks on the Go
When you’re in a hurry, feeling tired (and what mom isn’t tired?), or you just don’t feel like making anything, store-bought snacks are the way to go. Having these on hand in the pantry at all times is definitely a must.
You’re going to want some easy snack to fall back on. You can throw these in your diaper bag or purse and hit the road with no guilt. They’re easy, healthy, and your kid will love them.
7. Dry cereal
I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like cereal. Every meal. Every day. With milk. Without milk. Snack time. Bed time. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about the cereal.
Of course, they don’t always make the best choices, am I right? They want Froot Loops or Cap’n Crunch or some other sugary deliciousness that’s not the most healthy. Who can blame them? They’re just so good!
But when it’s your turn to take the wheel, make sure you’re stocked up on things like Cheerios, Chex, or Kix. All of them come in a variety of different flavors, so you can mix it up, but they all provide a relatively healthy snack and taste yummy, too.
8. Cheese cubes
Cheese cubes are the perfect snack because they’re squishy, delicious, and packed with nutritional value. They come in so many different flavors that you’re bound to find something your child loves.
They’re easy to pair with crackers or eat alone, and they’re surprisingly clean, which is something we can all get behind.
9. Cheese crackers
On that same note, you can also keep a stash of those cheese crackers. You know the ones I mean. The orange crackers with the dried cheese in the middle. They’re just so yummy. Even I still like them.
They also make them with peanut butter. And for the truly adventurous, they make a jalapeno variety. Mmmm.
10. String cheese
Some people call them cheese sticks, but when I was a kid, we always called it string cheese. Peeling back the layers of cheese and tilting my head back to feed it into my mouth was one of the most fun things to do at snack time.
These days, my kids just bite off big chunks of cheese off the top. However you eat it, it’s a great, healthy snack that’s easy to take with you. It’s not messy and it’s full of protein, just like all other cheese.
11. Mini rice cakes
This type of snack is great because of its small size. You can get the large rice cakes if you want, but kids tend to love the ones that fit in their hands better. They come in a ton of flavors and for whatever reason, kids gravitate towards these cardboard-flavored deities.
They fall into the grain category, so they’re not completely void of nutrition, and they’re a great go-to when you are desperate to give them something that will ease their growling bellies until you get home.
12. Yogurt drops
You can make homemade yogurt drops or you can buy them at the store, but these are great snacks on the go for babies. And to be honest, my older kids loved them for a long time, too.
They really are delicious. They are packed with flavor and nutrition, and they melt in your mouth, so you don’t have to worry about choking.
Another great store-bought snack that dissolves in your baby’s mouth is puffs. They make a lot of different varieties of these, too. There are stars, wagon wheels, Cheeto-shaped (and flavored) options, and a whole lot more.
Pick your baby’s favorite or try all of them! They’re fun, and sometimes a bit messy, but they’re a worry-free traveling snack for babies and toddlers.
14. Veggie straws
Have you discovered heaven-sent veggie straws yet? I swear they’re made by angels. They’re that good. They’re soft, with just the right amount of crunch. They travel well, kids love them, and they’re healthier than regular potato chips.
I love them because they come in earthy colors that make me feel like my kids and I are being healthy. Of course, the sheer amount of them I end up eating is probably not so healthy, but we won’t tell anyone about that.
15. Snap pea crisps
Same as the veggie straws above, except with snap peas. I’m pretty sure on the eighth day, God grew some snap peas, dried them, and then sent them down from heaven. They’re salty, crispy, and oh so yummy.
Once again, they’re healthier than regular potato chips, but these are probably a bit harder to chew than veggie straws, so they’re better for toddlers than they are for babies.
16. Quinoa chips
These chips are high in protein, so they’re a really great snack that will satisfy hunger when you’re running late for a meal. It’s a good snack to have on hand if you know you’re in for a busy day and you might get home a little late.
They’re softer than potato chips, so they’re great for younger kids, but they’re still probably better suited for toddlers rather than babies.
17. Graham crackers
I always found that plain graham crackers made a great snack. My kids loved the flavor and they’re already made to be broken into the perfect size for little hands. I waited until about 9 months of age to give them, but I found that even my babies would suck on them until they melted.
They’re a snack you might have to watch more diligently, but they can be given at a younger age as long as you’re watchful. They come in cinnamon and honey flavors, too.
While yogurt is tough to take with you, yogurt in a tube isn’t! Kids love yogurt, but when you put a snack in a tube or a straw, they go bananas. Let them suck their snack through a pipe and it could be broccoli for all they care.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have gone that far, but this portable yogurt solution might be one of the greatest things ever invented. Kids love it, and it’s a heathy-ish (and clean-ish) snack for the road.
Baby Snacks for at Home
Yogurt is an excellent source of dairy and protein. For babies younger than 9 months or one year, stick with plain yogurt. As they begin to eat more foods, you can experiment with different flavors.
Most kids love yogurt, and it’s a snack you can feel good about. It’s also a great food for your child to begin experimenting with using a spoon.
Applesauce offers a healthy serving of fruit in a way that your baby can learn to use a utensil. It comes in plain and cinnamon, and you can get it in a low sugar variety, too. If you’re particular about what your baby eats, it’s super easy to make at home.
21. Fruit cups
Once again, you can offer your child a variety of fruits and let them learn to use a utensil or stick with fingers on this one. You can buy store-bought fruit cups, which is much easier and more convenient, but if you’re more particular about what goes in them, you can make your own at home.
Eggs for Babies
Eggs are packed with protein and they’re a great snack. A lot of parents don’t think about giving their child eggs at a young age, either, and you do have to be careful, since it’s high on the common food allergy list.
However, as long as you introduce them slowly and are vigilant to watch for any reactions, eggs are a great snack for babies because they’re soft and you can cook them up in a variety of forms.
22. Scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs are soft and easy to grab with bare hands, so they make a great finger food for your baby. Make them plain or mix a bit of milk in so they get a portion of dairy with the snack, too.
Scrambled eggs are also versatile. You can sneak in a serving of vegetables if you’d like and your child would probably never know it.
This might sound odd, but scrambled eggs also make an awesome traveling snack. Babies don’t attach the hot or cold stigma to food that we do. They don’t care that their scrambled eggs are cold or their milk is lukewarm. They don’t know that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
23. Hard boiled eggs
Hard boiling eggs a few days in advance and keeping them in the fridge is a great way to prep snacks for your baby or toddler. They’ll keep for up to 3 or 4 days and you can dice them in advance, or store them and dice them as you need them.
Typically the yolks are easier for babies to chew, but a lot of kids only like the flavor of the whites. It may take some experimenting to figure out what your child likes. It may be a snack you have to mix with something else to get your child to eat it.
24. Egg muffins
Egg muffins are a fantastic way to incorporate a lot of nutrition into something your baby or toddler can snack on easily. You can make them using any ingredients your child likes. That includes spinach, tomato, mushroom, cheese, or bacon.
They’re simple to make, and you can eat them right away or save them for later. They’re great warm out of the oven, room temperature, or straight out of the fridge. Drizzle them with warm icing or cut them in half and slap some butter on them.
Other Interesting Snack Ideas
As if you don’t already have enough good snack ideas for your baby, here are some more! These are different, and you may not have thought of them, but that doesn’t mean they’re not healthy or yummy. Your baby will love them!
Can we talk about all the shapes for a second?? Bowties, angel hair, wagon wheels, rigatoni, shells, orzo, tortellini, penne, linguine, fettuccini, ravioli, and the list goes on. That’s enough to love right there.
Recipes will often call for you to cook your pasta al dente, but for your baby, you need to overcook it so it’s very soft. Try small shapes first and serve it plain without any sauce. As you introduce your baby to more foods, you can toss it in some olive oil or butter, and eventually some tomato sauce.
It might sound strange, but tofu is a great source of protein, and you can eat it cooked or uncooked. It’s an awesome finger food for babies! Firm tofu is still soft enough for your baby to eat and won’t fall apart like silken or soft tofu will.
It’s plant-based, so if you haven’t yet given your baby meat, you can still offer a great source of protein while staying away from animal-based sources for now.
Beans are also a great vegetarian source of protein. Canned beans are a convenient way to warm and serve beans, but dry beans will save you a ton of money and you can cook them in advance and freeze them for later.
When you first introduce beans, mash them a little bit. As your baby gets used to them, they’ll be able to chew them up themselves. Canned beans tend to have more juices and be messier than dry beans, so dry beans make a better travel snack.
These snacks are specially formulated for certain periods in your baby’s life. They make it easier for you and for your baby, so give them a try when you and your baby are struggling with developmental phases or sickness.
28. Teething wafers
These are biscuit-type snacks that have ridges or nubs on them. They’re a bit rougher and not as soft as other snacks, but they can really help relieve teething pain when the time comes. They’re typically recommended for 9-12 months or older.
They can be a great relief for everyone because they give your baby something safe to put in their mouth and give you peace of mind.
29. Freezer pops
There’s nothing worse than when your baby is sick and there’s nothing you can do to help. One of the best things you can do for your child when they’re sick is give them things to prevent dehydration.
Especially if they’ve been vomiting or they have a fever, you need to make sure they have plenty of fluids. That’s always easier said than done, but freezer pops are a great way to make them feel like they’re getting a special treat.
They’ll be none the wiser, and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that they’re getting the extra electrolytes their body needs to get healthy and stay that way.
Even if your child isn’t sick, freezer pops are also great for teething babies, because the cold temperature feels good on their gums and gnawing on the hard texture can give them some relief.
Sometimes you just can’t get a sick child to eat anything at all, and it can be nerve racking. Smoothies are cold and soothing. They feel good on the throat, and they’re smooth enough that even a baby can swallow it without chewing.
They contain tons of healthy fruit, and you can make it yourself at home so you can control what goes in it.
They’re delicious, and they taste a lot like ice cream, which is another common snack that children often crave when they’re sick. A smoothie is much better for them and will help them get better faster.
Surely there’s a snack idea or two on this list for even the pickiest of eaters! Hopefully it gave you some new ideas and a variety of options so that you can expand your snack cabinet a bit in the future.
To be honest, I think I’d like to have some of these snacks myself. They sound pretty delicious!