It’s not mealtime yet, but your little one is showing signs of being hungry, either crying his “hungry” cry or if he’s walking, pointing at food or trying to open the refrigerator. If he’s speaking, he may just tell you what he wants. (Yogurt and cheese are my son’s two favorite requests—or should I say demands—lately.) You don’t want those light hunger pangs to turn into a full-on tantrum, but you also don’t want to offer him junk food or empty calories just to head off a crisis. So what snack foods should you keep on hand that will be healthy and satisfying for between meals?
Fruits and veggies: You simply can’t go wrong by offering your baby fruit or vegetables as a snack. If he’s old enough to chew properly, apple slices, berries, and carrot and celery sticks are just a few great options. Pair veggies with hummus or a low fat ranch dip and you’ll likely have a kid who’s good to go until lunch or dinner. Fresh fruit can be dipped in yogurt, or make a fruit salad with a variety of fruits cut up in a bowl. For babies too young to masticate raw vegetables and harder fruits, try bananas, peaches and steamed veggies topped with some dip, or check any of the many ready-made fruit and veggie products in the baby food aisle. You can also try Beechnut/Goya Latino-flavored fruit baby food. It’s a winner with my baby.
Read Related: Feeding Baby on the Go
Whole grain goodness: Crackers are often referred to as “empty calories” for kids, as they fill up little stomachs but don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. If you shop for whole grain crackers, oat-flour pretzels, or prepare toast sticks with a flavorful, whole grain bread, you’ll offer a snack that is filling and nutritious. For babies older than 12 months, crackers can be spread with a little peanut butter or other nut butter, and pretzels are great for dipping in hummus or ranch dip.
Yogurt and cheese: There’s a reason my boy always asks for yogurt and cheese—they’re tasty and nutritious! Yogurt in squeeze pouches is especially a hit with him as he can eat it by himself, and he likes cheese for the same reason—it’s finger food. Add substance to the yogurt by mixing in some granola, or using it as a dip for fresh fruit. Cheese and harder fruit, like apple or pear, is great diced up together and makes a snack he can eat by himself. And don’t forget Greek yogurt and cottage cheese—both are great sources of calcium for your little guy (or gal).
OTHER QUICK SNACK IDEAS
Frozen waffles: For a quick, filling snack, keep whole-grain, frozen waffles cut in quarters in your freezer. Toast a quarter at a time, and offer with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey (for babies 12 months or older).
Frozen peas, sugar snap peas or edamame: These snacks are filling, nutritious, and easy to keep on hand. Your baby might especially enjoy the natural sweetness of peas and sugar snap peas—plus they’re fun to play with, too!
Dry whole grain cereal: Branch out from the predictable “O’s” and see what other types of cereal appeals to your baby. A small snack of cereal and milk is a healthy choice too.
Really, there’s no limit to the types of healthy snacks you can feed your baby. A lot simply depends on what he’ll eat; some babies devour sweet potato cubes while others toss them on the floor; some babies love raisins and others feed them to the dog. The trick is to offer a lot of different foods to your baby, and try as much as you can to stick to whole foods, either intact or in pureed form, depending on the age of your baby. And remember, if he doesn’t like carrots or apples or whatever the first time—even the first few times—keep trying. Babies are fickle little creatures, and something he scoffed at a week ago could easily become his new favorite snack, especially with a little coaxing from Mami!
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series of pieces inspired by a celebration of Latino heritage and smart nutrition, brought to you by BeechNut/Goya