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