Healthy Lunch Boxes and Snacks for Toddlers
Your little babies are now toddlers who are becoming hungry, curious, and, sometimes, picky eaters. As you send them off to daycare with their packed lunch boxes or give them snacks at home, you want to be sure they have a healthy, nutritious, and tasty assortment of items they love to eat.
While dinner is definitely an important meal of the day, many parents don’t put as much thought into the importance of lunch and snacks. Eating healthy throughout the day is important for active children and helps them keep going. Nutrition is an important key for their mental and physical development. It helps them retain memory, be more alert, and process information quicker. Teaching them the importance of nourishment gives them the tools for healthy eating habits as they grow older.
BabyFirst’s Nutrition Expert, Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN (from MamaKnowsNutrition.com), breaks it down for us making it easier for our time, budget, and energy constraints.
For their lunches, you want to be sure to have 1 protein, a fruit or vegetable, starch/carb item, and a fat (which is crucial for their brain development). Little ones need much less protein than you would think. A great way to know how much protein your child needs is to take their weight in pounds and divide it in half. The sum is the daily number of grams your little one requires. The carbs you provide should be whole grain/wheat (bread, rice cakes, tortillas, bagels, crackers, etc.). Some great ideas for healthy fats are avocados, almond butter, cashew butter, full-fat plain yogurt, etc. See below for some great lunch combinations and click here for a great list of things to keep handy at home for “throw and go” lunch building blocks.
Some great items to keep on your shopping list to always have a delicious and healthy snack available include:
● Bananas with peanut butter
● Plain yogurt with fruit or cinnamon
● Crackers with hummus
● Brown rice crackers with almond butter
● Green pea snack crisps
● Nut butter bars
● Cereal bars with fruit (no or low added sugar)
● Fruit cups in 100% fruit juice
● Fruit & vegetable puffs or melties
● Cheese sticks
**Please note that some of the items listed above may contain wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and/or dairy. If there are any known allergies, please use substitute products or consult your pediatrician.