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Homemade Snacks for Tots, Made Better

Homemade Snacks for Tots, Made Better

Words Megan Gordon

With a tiny bit of planning and weekend prep, I’ve discovered how to make pretty decent homemade snacks for my toddler, even during a busy week. These four ideas share easy ways to offer your toddler or baby healthy snacks—including a recipe for my son’s favorite Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers.

Before we had our son, I used to make homemade bread, yogurt, salad dressings and even ice cream. But let’s be real: Those days are gone (for now, anyway). While I love to cook and make the most of our meals, there’s just not enough time in the week to prepare fresh yogurt and homemade bread. But as anyone with a baby or toddler knows, snacks are a pretty big deal, and a few months ago I started to feel guilty about relying on prepackaged snacks as much as we were.

Don’t worry: I’m not about to encourage you to make all of your baby and toddler snacks from scratch. I get it: We all have lives. Sometimes buying packaged popcorn for weekly movie night and adding fig bars to toddler lunches is a real weekday savior, and many of these snacks are great. But I’ve also found that with a tiny bit of planning and weekend prep, we have some pretty decent, healthy homemade baby snacks for Oliver to choose from that I feel good about and that he likes (and oftentimes, they’re cheaper too!). Here’s what works for us:

apple divider

Have Fresh Foods at the Ready

I far prefer for Oliver to eat fresh fruits, veggies and cheese whenever possible instead of packaged snacks, and the key to this is to wash and prep things in advance and get them all in ready-to-eat containers. I love our apple divider as it helps quickly make apple slices, and I wash berries and snap peas to have at the ready after daycare or during that 10am Hangry Hour (you know the one). Also look to non-traditional snacks that require little prep work—toddler-friendly finger foods like beans or homemade meatballs are a great option.

Do One Homemade Swap

It can be overwhelming to think about doing an entire overhaul of your snacking routine, so I like to choose one beloved packaged snack and make a homemade version every 1-2 weeks. This feels doable on my end schedule-wise, and I feel good knowing my version is healthier and a little cheaper. Cheese crackers and popcorn are the biggies around here, so I’ll bake up a homemade version of the crackers Oliver loves (easy recipe below!) or pop up a batch of popcorn. I love homemade popcorn because you don’t have to use any oil and can go to town on adding any flavorings you like; store in an airtight container and you’ll have popcorn for the week. If your baby or toddler loves the crunchy satisfaction of a chip, try swapping them for easy homemade veggie chips.

Handy Containers are Key

While washing and slicing fresh fruits and veggies is one thing, properly storing them is another. You need something that keeps them fresh, and something that toddlers can even snack directly from is equally important. I love storing our homemade baby snacks in clear containers so everyone can see what’s inside—we use these handy glass containers for easy grab-and-go snacking (if you used glass baby blocks to make homemade baby food, these are now  great for single-serve berries or cheese cubes).

Sneaking in the Healthy Stuff

I never thought I’d be one of those moms trying to sneak veggies into foods where veggies don’t necessarily belong, but now I get it: Any opportunity to work in a little extra nutrition is a good thing. So when I make homemade snack crackers, I use whole grain flour and flax meal—and they’re still toddler approved! And with popcorn, I love to sprinkle on nutritional yeast for extra protein and B vitamins, plus it gives it a slightly cheesy flavor that kids love.

homemade healthy snacks for tots

Healthy Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers Recipe

Recipe By Megan Gordon: 5-8 dozen crackers (depending on size cut) These delicious and nutritious snack crackers have only a handful of ingredients, and bake up quickly. Because homemade crackers don’t have preservatives like store bought crackers, they’re really best enjoyed within three days of baking:

Ingredients

7 ounces grated cheddar cheese, about 1-½ cups

5 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup ground flax meal

1-4 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

  1. Mix cheddar, butter, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or pulse the ingredients in a food processor) and beat until soft and combined. Add the flour and flax meal and beat until dry and pebbly.
  2. Add water slowly, starting with just 1 tablespoon, until dough just starts to come together in one ball (depending on the type of flour you’re using and the coarseness of flax meal, you may need just 1 tablespoon or you may need all 4).
  3. Gently gather together the dough and press into a round, chubby disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, rolling each out into a thin rectangle (shoot for less than 1/8 – inch if you can – these puff up a bit as they cook). Trim away any ragged edges so you’re working with straight edges. Set trimmings aside.
  6. Using a fluted pastry wheel or knife, slice the dough into 1-inch squares and place on baking sheets, leaving about 1/4-inch between each cracker (they don’t spread much). Use a fork to poke a few holes in the tops of each. Gather together any scraps and re-roll and cut as needed.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly puffed on the tops and golden brown around the edges. At halfway through the bake time, rotate the pans to help with even baking. These crackers continue to firm up as they cool, so be careful not to over bake. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wondering how to handle snacking on the road? Discover 12 toddler-approved healthy road trip snacks.

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By Megan Gordon

Megan Gordon is a cookbook author, recipe developer, food blogger, and culinary educator. She is a freelance writer for OXO, and manages the content on her own site A Sweet Spoonful. Megan lives in Seattle with her toddler son Oliver and husband Sam.

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