A Giant List of Toddler Snack Ideas

OK so technically there is nothing about these snacks that makes them toddler snacks per se (hey uncle Jesse!), but these are the things my todds love to eat. And I love to eat. Soooo This is a giant list of humans-of-all-ages snacks. 

Sweet potato mini muffins (for recipe scroll to #26)

Sweet potato mini muffins (for recipe scroll to #26)

It is also not exactly a giant list yet. But it will be! Save this list somewhere because I’m going to update it regularly with new creations we come up with, as well as snack ideas from you guys.

I like our snacks to include some fat, protein, and carbs but that let’s be real sometimes Bobby finds a banana under the dishwasher and we call it good. Bottom line is I want them to be filling enough that Ruthie doesn’t shout “MAH, CAN I HAVE A LITTLE TREAT?!” 40 times before the next meal rolls around.  

My 2 and 4 year old and I have between 2-3 sit-down snacks a day, between meals and sometimes one after dinner/before bed. Little ones have little tums and you never know when they might just not be hungry at mealtime. Having consistent, planned snacks for them helps me feel a little better about those meals when they literally eat nothing, and it helps to avoid hunger related meltdowns (mine and theirs) throughout the day.

Things you hear me saying often in response to snack requests:

“We just had a snack, lunchtime is in 30 minutes and we’ll eat then”

“We just had lunch, we will have snack time in about one hour” 

“I know you want a cookie, we’ll have a cookie with dinner in 45 minutes”

You won’t see many packaged snacks like bars, chips, string cheese, or even crackers on this list. I stopped buying them a few years ago to lower our grocery budget and reduce waste and we just fell out of the habit of needing them around. There is nothing wrong with them, but we get by pretty easily without them now. And when we do have them, Ruthie and Bobby are thrilled and think I am a wise and generous leader.

Chocolate chip cookie dough dip (#32)

Chocolate chip cookie dough dip (#32)

This list of ideas is basically for me to reference whenever I’m in a snack rut, but I would love for you to use it too. I would also LOVE if you would share your favorite snacks in the comments below so I can include them in the list.

Ever-Expanding List of Toddler Snack Ideas

  1. Apple slices and date caramel.

  2. Banana drizzled with melted peanut butter and mini chocolate chips.

  3. Roasted veggie chips and hummus.

  4. Blueberry yogurt bark - Blueberries tossed in yogurt then spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles (optional) and freeze until solid. Break into chunks.

  5. Granola with plain, whole-fat yogurt.

  6. Chocolate pudding - Combine 2 tablespoons chia seeds with 1/2 cup whole milk (coconut milk is delicious here too), a tablespoon cocoa powder, and a splash of honey or agave. Let firm up in the refrigerator for an hour or so. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and serve - 1 serving.

  7. Kefir blended with homemade chocolate milk syrup.

  8. Leftover baked sweet potato topped with butter, brown sugar, and chopped walnuts.

  9. Easy one-bowl banana muffins.

  10. Baby cheese plate! Sharp cheddar slices, chopped dates, quartered grapes, our favorite crackers.

  11. Pita pizzas - top pita or tortilla with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Broil for 2 minutes.

  12. Avocado toast.

  13. Leftover smoothie popsicles - I always leave my popsicle molds in the freezer and fill them up if I have leftover smoothie (either the kids didn’t drink all of theirs or I made too much).

  14. Hard boiled egg (let them peel! probably Ruthie’s #1 fave job) + buttered toast.

  15. Cuties (tiny mandarin oranges) dipped in honey yogurt.

  16. Leftover waffles topped with cream cheese and chopped strawberries.

  17. Pintos and cheese - black or pinto beans topped with shredded sharp cheddar.

  18. Dehydrated apples or pears dipped in melted almond butter.

  19. Baked sweet and salty chickpeas (still fairly soft for younger toddlers).

  20. Kefir mixed with orange juice - I do half kefir and half juice and shake in a closed mason jar to combine.

  21. Stuff dates with sharp cheddar cheese or almond butter.

  22. Pita spread with goat cheese  (my favorite homemade pitas).

  23. Baby-bel cheese (again, a serious thrill to open according to Ruthie) with blueberries.

  24. Banana spread with peanut butter and rolled in hemp hearts, chia seeds, and crushed nuts then sliced into coins (I throw in mini chocolate chips sometimes).

  25. Rosemary sweet potato fries - Bake frozen sweet potato fries and toss in 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon dried rosemary. Dip in plain greek yogurt.

  26. One bowl light ‘n fluffy sweet potato mini muffins

  27. PB&J (try this super easy strawberry chia jam) - PB&J is pretty much one of the only times I do something fancy with food by using fun cookie cutters.

  28. Toast spread with hummus and topped with sliced hard boiled egg (my kids like this sliced into strips for some reason - “MAKE IT LONG AND SKINNY MAH!”).

  29. Our favorite chocolate oat bites.

  30. Chopped apples, walnuts, and shredded coconut drizzled with melted almond butter (serve with a spoon!)  

  31. Grape nuts + milk microwaved for about 30 seconds (this might be unique to my kids but they loooove grapenuts). 

  32. Chocolate chip cookie dough dip. Combine plain yogurt with peanut butter and a little honey. Top with mini chocolate chips and serve with sliced apples.  

  33. Ice creamed raspberries. Top frozen raspberries (or any frozen berry) with a drizzle of cream, the cream hardens and makes an ice-cream coating on the berries. 

  34. Strawberry ice cream smoothie: 6 large frozen strawberries, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 frozen avocado, 1 cup full fat coconut milk, large handful cashews - blend!

  35. Top thinly sliced apples or pears with sharp cheddar cheese.

  36. Peanut butter banana roll-ups - Tortilla spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana, slice into coins.

  37. Big batch flourless peanut butter oatmeal cookies.

  38. Frozen banana pops. Cut a few bananas in half and insert a popsicle stick (I use the sticks from my popsicle molds). Roll the banana halves in yogurt and then in chopped peanuts and mini chocolate chips (add in a few sprinkles if you’re feelin’ fiesty!). Freeze until firm.

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BLW On the Go

Remember the days of dining out with a newborn? I do. Dreaming about french fries and craft beer, I stumbled out of that sweet newborn stupor and into whatever jeans I could button, covered the car seat with that giant, fuzzy cover, packed a massive diaper bag full of every baby item I owned, grabbed my husband and away we sped. The biggest stress was figuring out where to put the car seat while it's tiny little occupant snoozed away, lulled by the din.

Once you bring a food eatin' babe out, nothing is the same. It's no longer peaceful and in some instances results in a parent walking around the restaurant with one baby or another the entire time, but in my opinion it is still worth it. Almost every time we venture out to eat with both babies, our families are there to help out too. But I bet most of you are much braver when it comes to dining out with babies and might even do it fairly often.

The contents of my diaper bag is a pretty accurate reflection of who I am: one tiny gladiator sandal, 14 socks, 5 onesies, 40 diapers, sometimes wipes (where do all of my packs of wipes go?), a binky if I'm lucky (BUT IN WHICH POCKET?), a flat Larabar, 2-3 Camelback minis, my wallet, something sort of damp, and a sock monkey. I made a little list in the notes of my phone after Ruthie was born housing all of the essentials I might need whenever I leave the house with her. I have revisited that list approximately two times. 

BUT one of the greatest things about BLW is that gear is totally optional. You literally do not need one special tool for your babe to fully enjoy a meal. There are a few essentials I tote around in a zipper clutch that make it a little smoother (and slightly less messy) when eating at a restaurant.

BLW on-the-go Kit

Bib - I ALWAYS forgot a bib before stashing a few in my BLW bag.
Mat -My babes are good about not flinging plates across the room at restaurants (and at home thank God). If you have a plate flinger, a non-slip mat (like EZPZ) is an inexpensive and simple solution.
Utensils - totally optional. I’m a proponent of early utensil introduction, but at a restaurant I’m cool with letting it go.
Antibacterial wipes - for the high chair and table top. I was a waitress in college, that tabletop ain't clean (OR maybe I was just a terrible waitress?).
Baby wipes - for messy babies, of course.
Snacks - in case the food takes a while to arrive, diversional snacks come in handy.
Bag - Mother Load Snack Bag, necessityyyyy.

BLW at Restaurants - What to order

One of the major perks of BLW is there is no need to bring food from home when eating out at restaurants.

Look for these menu items (appropriate for any BLW age 6 months +)

  • fresh fruit

  • steamed veggies with or without butter (I almost always order a side of steamed vegetables and a side of fresh fruit for my babes), roasted veggies

  • side of avocado or guac

  • rolls or bread with butter

  • big salads with a lot of components that can be deconstructed (like a nicoise salad, southwest salad with beans, grilled veggie salad, taco salad, etc. with dressing on the side

  • margarita or veggie pizza

  • grilled veggie or grilled chicken sandwiches/wraps/tacos/burritos (again, I'd deconstruct for younger babes)

  • grilled salmon

  • white or brown rice

  • steak and mashed potatoes

If you go out to eat often (like twice a week or more), it might take some perusing the menu ahead of time to make sure they have options that are low in sodium.

Most dishes from restaurants are almost always pretty salty unless they can be deconstructed to unearth fresh fruits and veg. Soups, dipping sauces and dressings or sauces covering pasta, meat, or fish are probably a pretty potent source of salt, as are fried foods.

We don't eat out very much because it's such an expense and lets be honest, it's a little stressful bringing a 2 year old and an 11 month old pretty much anywhere. But when we do eat out, I’m a sucker for a good burger with fries and Ruthie or Bobby have joined me in that order a time or two.

Why I'm Not Asking Ruthie to Trade in her Candy for Clementines

Just in case you're only in the mood to read one sentence: the short answer is "because memories".

Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Soooo many of my childhood memories have been formed around really good food. A ton of our traditions would be almost unrecognizable without food, trick or treating for example. In order to enjoy these food-based traditions rather than anticipate them with anxiety and a bag of tricks to "survive holiday eating", a healthy relationship with food is completely necessary.

As a dietitian, especially as an RD working in school setting like I always have, there's an expectation for me to totally villianize candy and other foods seen as bad by society. The need to label foods as good and bad starts young. During nutrition presentations to pre-k and kindergarten classes, students often raised their hands and told me with pride that they never eat ice cream because it's bad. They also sometimes raised their hands and forgot what they were going to say, then panic and tell me that their dad has glasses instead.

I have been partly to blame for this societal fear of certain foods. I've done radio interviews discussing creative ideas for trading in Halloween candy for stickers and toys. I've developed checklists of the "healthiest" candy (healthiest in this instance meaning lowest in calories....healthy DOES NOT mean low calorie - not proud of that article). I've shared "healthier" ideas to satisfy a candy craving (nothing is truly going to satisfy a Butterfinger craving other than a Butterfinger). I've done a TV segment where I drew a ghost face on a banana and pretended to be certain that kids would find this just as satisfactory as a candy bar. All of these ideas represent a fear of food that I totally (and luckily) do not share.

I was basically being a big ole liar. I LOVE mini Halloween candy bars, I sure as hell wouldn't want to trade them in for a clementine (although I love clementines too). I know from experience and from research that trying to squash a Butterfinger craving with an apple is going to lead us to find more and more options to fight that craving until we have eaten way more than we would have had we just had the candy.

I'm not planning on showing Ruthie that it's fine to eat an entire bag of Snickers, but I want her to know that Snickers aren't forbidden. I want to help her create Halloween memories like I was lucky enough to have. Since she is only 2, she will require a little help storing and dispensing her candy (she might even completely forget about it after a day or two). But helping kids understand at a young age that candy and treats are a part of a healthy life is vitally important to helping them have a healthy relationship with candy and treats later. There are no forbidden foods. There are no foods that will suddenly take us from great health to poor health. There are foods of lower nutritional value that need to be experienced regularly in order to lose their aura of mystery and allure that can lead to a cycle of restriction/overeating as adults.  

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I want Ruthie to be able to sit down with a donut and eat until she is done. Sometimes she might take just a bite and leave the rest, sometimes she might lick the frosting off, sometimes she might eat the whole thing and ask for another. I want her to think of a donut simply as food, delicious food, but in no way forbidden or bad or "limited time only" or as a bribe used to eat something green. 

Halloween to two year old Ruthie isn't as candy centered as it might be when she's older, but I want to help her understand now that candy isn't evil, in fact, it's a pretty fun part of being a kid.

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New Blog Photos Guys! by Raven Vasquez Photography

My friend Raven took some new photos for the blog and I'm obsessed.

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I've been obsessed with her for a while, she is a complete entrepreneurial inspiration and I have the feeling you'll be AWWWWW-ing uncontrollably if you check out her Instagram feed.

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But I'm most of all majorly obsessed with the fact that these are new "head shots" - a FAR (far far far) cry from the head shot I needed for my old life which involved me wearing a super tight suit coat and trying to casually put my hand on my hip while having my head positioned by three different people (look down, now bring your eyes up to me...now try that again without looking so psychotic....how 'bout propping your foot up on this fairly tall bench...there, that looks casual).

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Back to that blazer real quick. I definitely miss dressing like a boss for work (I mean, I could do that at home I guess) but I DO NOT miss this jacket. I bought the tiniest one they had and insisted on squeezing myself into it because "shrunken" blazers were all the rage. If you had asked me to throw a basketball while wearing this blazer, I would have just rolled over onto my back like a turtle. Pick up a child while wearing this blazer? The definite result would have been a giant rip up the back. Casually place my hand on my hip in this jacket? A super awkward wincing face and inner elbow abrasion.

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Also for this old head shot, I had to pick a hobby and hold up a physical representation of it for a pic. If you asked me now, that would be easy...I'd hold up a baby (or a diaper? or a muffin? my laptop?) But back then I remember thinking "ummm I played the piano in 7th grade?". So I ended up holding a yoga mat AND rock climbing shoes and sort of shrugging in the pic. OK, finished with the rant, onto the sharing of these NEW pics featuring a soft and flowy top representing MY FUTURE. (#drama).

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Thank you so much Raven. And YOU. If you haven't already awed yourself into a coma from scrolling her IG feed, please do so now.

You can (should) book a session with Raven here.

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Yoga Stretches for Babywearers

Guys, my 9 month old weighs 26 lbs. 

AND, he loves to be held. (Side note: I love holding him too). Lately, he has been crawling up into my arms a little more often (I blame this and pretty much everything else on new teeth). In order to have a hand or two free, I've been wearing him a lot. My back hurts. Really specifically, my right shoulder and neck hurt, like a can't turn my head kind of feeling.

A lot of you are probably in the same boat. Carrying a babe on one hip, hauling around a giant bag, hunching over while nursing, wearing your 9 year old in the Ergo to get her to sleep (hi I'm a huge exaggerator, nice to meet you  👋🏻). Basically, babies can equal back pain. 

Rather than waiting hours after waking for my back and neck muscles to loosen up, I looked around online and consulted a yoga buddy to put together a series of super simple stretches that give me back my head movement. Aside from the physical benefits, I'm dabbling in the whole mind-clearing side of yoga and meditation. I haven't experienced any life-changing, stress busting breakthroughs yet, but I'm hopeful.

In order for this to become something I actually do everyday, I knew a few things. It had to be really quick, like about 3-5 minutes. It had to be simple so I could remember how to do it without reading any instructions. AND it had to be something I could do anywhere (I usually do it in bed every morning).

Seated Side Bend

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Seated Forward Bend (aka touch yo toes)

"Is that really as far as you can reach?!" -Austin

"Is that really as far as you can reach?!" -Austin

Demonstrating his flexiness

Demonstrating his flexiness

Seated Trunk Twist  

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Cat-Cow

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Child's Pose

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I hold each pose for about 30 seconds (which seems like forever, working on that yoga mind). As you can see, I have about as much flexibility as a pretzel but hopefully this helps me obtain Austins level of bendiness (he can seriously probably do the splits). I'm wearing the big guy in the Ergo as I type this and am about to put him down to do a little stretchin'.

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Toddler Yoga at Morton's Grove

Toddler yoga is real! 

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I didn't really believe it was possible at first, i just sort of pretended to so some of you guys would come over and hang out with me. 

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But it really happened! Most of the kids were around 2-3 years old, and they actually listened and participated! Except for Ruthie, she wasn't having it. I've been experiencing big giant major tantrums for the first time recently, and for the love of God PARENTING IS SO HARD. The instructor's sweet assistant asked Ruthie if she would like a feather. Ruthie was majorly offended and responded OF COURSE NOT! Maybe next time Ruthie girl!

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April Thrift (yoga instructor for all ages and stages at iBloom) led the session, starting with a simple craft activity: assembling a yoga foot dream catcher (a little foot cutout with streamers and feathers attached).

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Following the craft came a story with frequent breaks to incorporate yoga stretches. Toddlers are (can be?) so freakin' cute. April called out questions to them and they always had the craziest and cutest answers. When pulling on their pretend yoga pants, April asked "what color are your pants?". Little cutie Peyton shouted in answer "maybe just brown?!".

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My goal with Morton's Grove is to become a resource for building healthy families with food + nutrition and fun events + programs that celebrate the whole baby (+ mama). This yoga sesh was my first attempt to wrangle some people into this dream with me. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our first toddler yoga. It means so much that you spent your Saturday with us! 

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After everyone left, Ruthie spent hours doing tree (aka flamingo) and happy baby in the barn.  

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Contact April Thrift at iBloom for more information on toddler yoga or to see her class schedule. 

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Figuring out Productivity as a Stay-at-home Mom

I've never liked the word productivity. 

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It's sort of like "portion size", makes me cringe a little and immediately lose interest. If you also cringe when you hear productivity, I apologize in advance 'cause I'm about the say it like a million times. Whether I like the word or not, productivity is part of life both for both working and nonworking mamas.

The meaning of productivity has changed dramatically for me between when I was working and now. Productivity for working me: putting on pants, finishing a presentation, sitting in on calls, scheduling and attending meetings, leaving the office for lunch, sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day, oh yea, and making $$$. Productivity for stay-at-home me: A mystery. Started as keeping babies safe and fed, not completely trashing the house everyday, and maybe taking a shower and is currently morphing into writing blog posts at midnight. I haven't really figured it out yet.

I do know that newborn babies throw a total wrench in traditional views of productivity, obvs. They take a scheduled life and turn it upside down. This stage probably lasts a different amount of time for everyone. The first time for me it pretty much lasted the entire 12 weeks of maternity leave. Going back to work brought order and schedule back and by default, feelings of productivity. With my second baby, I decided that going back to work wasn't going to happen so the hard deadline ending the newborn stage never came. Where did that leave me? Incredibly happy and grateful to be home followed by feelings of "S&*t, I'm going to have to figure out how to feel organized and productive by myself this time."

I wanted to know what productivity means to other working-turned-SAHMs, so I asked a few.

Meet Laura (a different Laura, I swear).

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Amazing mom to almost 2 year old, Bodhi, and brand-spanking-newborn, Wilder. Corporate insurance broker: whip smart, put together AF, great hair. Spent her days in pencil skirts and seriously high heels. She knew during her pregnancy with Bodhi that she was going to stay home after his arrival. Laura and her boys travel for her husband's job, so she knows very few people in her current city and is about to move to a new one (yes, with a newborn and a toddler 😱).  

I can't really imagine Laura being unproductive, but I asked her about it anyway. Her response to my email was polished enough to be an article in some sort of boss mom magazine. To her new life at home with babes, productivity means leaving the house most days. Without those structured escapes she fears her and her toddler will get on each others nerves (#truth). She also tries to keep a schedule most days but isn't super strict about it (I'm gonna call her a soft scheduler), possibly a nod to her former life planning for deadlines months in advance. Laura takes advantage of conveniences like online grocery shopping and meal delivery services (like plated) Because next to staying at home all day, one of the things that makes her feel most unproductive is having an empty fridge.

Laura most missed the adult convos she used to have at the office. I imagine those convos were pretty badass and involved words such as integrative, expedite, and perhaps synergy? She also misses the clothes & shoes required by the corporate life. I totally relate to this. My office was much more casual than Laura's, but not so casual where I could show up in the PJ lookalikes I currently wear to work. 

Meet Anne.

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Hilarious, so so kind, cute as hell, and laid back, being a mom appears second nature to her. She went back to work after her first babe, David, and decided to call it quits when she was expecting her second little nug, Lucy. Anne is the first friend you text when you get pooped on by your child. Like Laura, she is raising her babes far from extended family while her husband finishes up his residency. 

Productivity to Anne as it relates to caring for babes means keeping an at least slightly organized house and tackling stuff that needs to get done, like meals and laundry. She's working on not beating herself up and letting messes happen (I feel you). She focuses on getting herself and the kids ready every morning (unlike me and my typically naked kids 🙈) with the goal of getting out and about during the day (park, zoo, errands). The part she most missed about working is seeing her work friends everyday. Luckily she still has them around to text with because work friends can seriously turn into the best friends sometimes.

Something Anne told me I'm her email totally struck a chord, and that was she feels less productive when her 2 year old watches too much TV. I 100% agree. It also makes me feel unproductive and also just like a bad parent when Ruthie watches too much Clifford (January and February right after Bobby was born = WAY more TV that id like to admit🙈. It was Thomas back then, I miss Thomas).

Things I've been doing in order to feel like I'm not just floating around between diaper changes all day:

1. Get up before babies - I've been failing at this most days because Bobby wakes up at 3 am lately, but days I get up early I have a slightly more laid-back attitude all day. Might be the extra coffee.

2. Listen to a podcast - I usually pick trending nutrition related stuff, or inspiring but short shows like How I Built This.

3. Turn Netflix off - Especially difficult lately because I've started watching Gilmore Girls again (it makes me feel fallish?!).

4. Limit social media - Somebody please help me with this.

5. Cut the ties between productivity and a clean house - I read somewhere that cleaning a house with a toddler is like brushing your teeth while eating oreo's. For someone who isn't very cleaning motivated to begin with, basing productivity on keeping the kitchen clean is a terrible idea.

What do you guys do to feel productive at work or at home?

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