There are tons of snacks geared toward children, but not all of them are healthy. In fact, most snacks for small children are full of sugar — gummy fruit snacks, cookies, crackers and even healthier options like apples often come packaged with caramel sauce. What are some healthy alternatives, and what snacks should you always keep in your diaper bag when you’re on the go?
Butter-heavy movie-theater-style popcorn has a deservedly bad reputation, but without the fat- and sodium-laden toppings, popcorn can be a pretty healthy snack. Plus, it keeps well, and you can store it in your diaper bag without worrying about refrigeration.
The healthiest option for popcorn is air-popped corn you sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt. Skip the butter and other toppings for a quick, healthy snack. If you’ve got someone with a corn allergy in your family, consider sorghum instead — it isn’t in the corn family, but it pops the same way. The kernels are just a little bit smaller.
Cheese-flavored crackers are a tasty snack, but the ones you can buy at the grocery store don’t always have the best ingredients — they use white processed flour, which isn’t as healthy as some of the alternatives. Try making your own instead, with whole-wheat flour and some of your favorite hard cheese — you don’t have to stick to cheddar, but it is one of the easiest to work with. Play with the flavors, and you may be able to create the perfect snack for every picky eater in your household.
If you’ve got a cooler or an insulated diaper bag, chopped vegetables are an excellent healthy snack. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, green pepper and broccoli all make easy finger food snacks for you and for your little ones. For young kids, just make sure to cut the vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces.
Ranch dressing is a common accompaniment for chopped vegetable snacks, but it’s often high in fat and sodium. Try a DIY ranch dressing recipe — you can make them healthier while still getting the same flavors. Your kids will never know you skipped out on the store-bought salad dressing.
Jerky, no matter what type of meat it’s made from, is a practical snack that is high in protein, keeps forever and makes a great addition to your snack bag. Make sure you find some jerky brands that are low in sodium.
If you’ve got some time or a dehydrator, you can even try your hand at making homemade jerky — beef, bacon and even turkey are all good jerky options.
Nuts are a super-healthy option for both kids and adults. They’re high in healthy fats and protein and go well with a wide range of different seasonings. They also don’t take up a huge amount of space, so they’re perfect diaper bag snacks for both you and your little ones.
Keep in mind, nuts are only good for older children who have teeth to chew them. Don’t give nuts to toddlers or any children who might be at risk of choking on them.
Be honest here — who doesn’t love cheese? There are a number of cheeses worthy of healthy snacking and keeping your diaper bag stocked with low-fat string cheese, mini cheese wheels or just some cubed cheddar cheese is sure to be a hit with your kids and any other kids who just happen to be in the area.
You do want to make sure you keep your cheese cold, though, so invest in an insulated diaper bag or a mini cooler to carry around with you.
We get it — you’re a mom. Sometimes, in the rush to make sure everyone else gets fed, clothed and has their shoes on the right feet, you forget to eat breakfast yourself. To keep yourself fueled, stash a few protein bars in your diaper bag. These snacks are perfect for eating on the go, and many of them have enough vitamins and nutrients to count as a meal replacement.
You don’t want to live on protein bars, but they can be more than enough to keep you going until you can get a decent meal in you — even if that meal comes in the form of leftover chicken nuggets and French fries your little one left on their plate.
We’re not talking about fried eggs. They’re tasty, but they’re messy, and the last thing you need is fried egg yolk all over the inside of your diaper bag. No, we’re talking about hard-boiled eggs. Just a single hard boiled egg contains 13% of your daily protein and are rich in Vitamins D, B12, A, and Iodine. You can cook dozens of them up at a time and if you peel them before you stash them in your bag, all you have to do is eat them.
Just make sure you take them out of your bag if you don’t eat them. Diaper bags can get stinky enough without worrying about the smell of rotten eggs.
Feel free to pick and choose from these snacks — if you fill your diaper bag with food, you won’t have any room for your diapers! Keep a few snacks in there, though, to sate hungry toddlers or just to keep you fueled so you can keep up with them as you go about your day!