Toddlers: Healthy take-along snacks for day care

My nine month old's new day care is giving him meals and snacks constantly. I wouldn't mind it, except that they give him cookies as snacks. Do you have ideas for healthy take-along snacks?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Snacks need to make a nutritional contribution to a toddler's daily intake. Kids do not consume enough calories to be able to have any of them be devoid of nutrition. Therefore, snack choices need to be made wisely.

You are building eating habits that can last a lifetime. It is critical to their lifelong health that those habits be good ones. Now is the time to be teaching them healthy snacking. Cookies, and constant snacking are not habits that will serve them well, now or later.

It would be worth your effort to take a little time now to have a positive and constructive talk with your day care to accomplish a reform in their snacking policy. First, help to set up a snacking and meal schedule that they can stick to. Then, make up a list of snacks that are agreeable to everyone, caregivers and parents. Caregivers will want snacks that are easy, and do not create too much of a mess. With younger children, a bit of a mess is almost inevitable and to be expected by the caregivers. Parents will also want to be sure that those snacks are healthy and age appropriate. Finally, make sure that food safety issues are addressed. If there is not a place to keep foods cold that need to be refrigerated, you will want to avoid them, or perhaps fund raise for a refrigerator for the center.

Below are some suggestions for snacks that may be appropriate for your day care.

  • Teething biscuits
  • Mini-muffins (homemade is best to ensure healthy ingredients)
  • Mini-bagels (good stale for teething babies)
  • Dry cereal, unsweetened, avoiding cereals with nuts
  • Crisp crackers made from whole grains, low sodium
  • Wedges of soft, ripe peeled banana, peach, papaya, mango (put prepared into a tupperware type container)
  • Small cups of yogurt
  • Small cups of applesauce
  • Grated cheese (grate and put into container to take to day care)
  • Small slices of tofu (put into container)
  • Chopped cooked egg yolk
  • Soft cooked vegetable sticks or cubes, such as broccoli florettes, carrots or sweet potatoes

Working in partnership with your day care to set up a healthy snacking policy should be a lot of fun, and very rewarding. Eating and food is a big part of your child's life, both developmentally and nutritionally. The food your child eats has a tremendous impact on his health and well being, and snacks are an important part of his eating. Making sure it is healthy, tasty, and appropriate is worth the time and effort you give it.

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