Summer is here!
Moms are busy planning adventures and packing bags. We’re great at planning ahead for any situation, but feeding toddlers is the epitome of unpredictable.
Summer adventures require ample fuel, a.k.a., food. Meals are easier to tackle because, well, restaurants. But snacks can be trickier for many reasons, like toddlers being toddlers.
The “What If” Factor
Tommy loves bananas, but what if it’s a little squished?
Addy loves grapes, but what if they’re not cold enough?
Kenny’s into snack bars, but what if I pack the wrong flavor?
These are the questions that make moms nutty.
This Registered Dietitian mom is going to walk you through planning snacks for outings and share some toddler-approved favorites.
The first step in snack planning is the timeline. After-breakfast outings are great because you can bulk up the first meal of the day. For later excursions, offer a snack before leaving to top off the toddler fuel tank.
Plan your post-activity meal ahead of time to take the burden off snacks. Pick a restaurant or have food ready to serve at home. Whatever you do, try not to “wing it” 100%.
A big challenge with travel snacks is the travel part. Car seat safety, food safety, bag restrictions—it’s like a calculus equation.
Shelf-stable options and smaller portions are a mom’s travel besties. Shelf stable minimizes “stuff” and the inevitable question, “Is this still safe to eat?” Smaller portions are easier to pack and reduces food waste. Bonus: Easy clean-up!
Tip: Choose fruit wisely. Whole fruit is travel friendly, but it can also be squished and bruised. If we know anything about toddlers, we know they have strong opinions about food.
Safety note: Eating in a car seat or moving vehicle is not recommended. Consider your child’s chewing/eating ability and choking hazards when packing snacks. For outings with a long commute, plan a snack stop. Check out @solidstarts for more information about food safety by age.
#3: How Much is Too Much?
For outings between meals, one snack should suffice. Moms worry about meltdowns and pack half the kitchen for safety…time to downsize. (Hey, first-time moms, we all do it!)
Toddlers do best with fewer options. “Would you like oranges or blueberries?” is easier than “Which fruit do you want?”
If your toddler has a strong appetite, pack multiple of the same item. Keep options to three, max.
#4: Packing List
Plans are made and you’re ready to pack snacks—so what do you pack?
Remember the snack equation from my last article: Snack = 1 carb +1 protein/fat.
Snacks that fit the equation will be more filling and energizing, i.e.: they ward off hanger.
Here’s some RD mom-approved favorites to keep toddlers fed and happy:
- Skout Organic Bars
- Nakd Bars
- Happy Tot Sunflower Butter Bars
- Happy Tot Blueberry Bars
- Freeze dried strawberries and mangoes
- Cereal: Chex, Crispix, Kashi Cinnamon (add more)
- Half-nut butter, half-chia jam sandwich
- Nut butter packets + fruit
- Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter or Cheese Sandwich Crackers
- Trader Joe’s Bite-Size Sharp Cheddar Cheese Crackers
- Trader Joe’s 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers
- SkinnyPop Mini Cinnamon Rounds
- Grapes (cut)
- Sliced bell peppers
- Carrot sticks
- Leftover pancakes (consume or toss in 4 hours)
Pick 2–3 options and be on your way!
Tip: If you’re going on a longer adventure and two snacks are needed, don’t stress. Your planned meal should include food options your child is likely to eat. Pack three to four items from the lists above and keep your bag light.
Adventures with toddlers can be tricky. Keep your toddler snack options simple and low stress. Make your plan and stick to it. And most of all, have fun!