A: So happy to hear that you're looking for healthy snack options! Those Goldfish are a total disaster for toddlers, especially those under 24 months. Yet our schools keep serving them to kids as if it were a super snack 🙁
Not only do Goldfish contain no nutritional value, but they also contain gluten which is very damaging and inflammatory to their intestinal tract. Kids under 12 months should never be given gluten foods (breads, cereals, or snacks made with wheat, barley, rye, etc).
Gluten experts like Dr. Tom O'Brian recommend avoiding gluten for the first 24 months of a child's life to ensure a healthy and undamaged gut flora, and least chance of having gluten issues later in life. There is some shocking statistic from the research which says something like consuming gluten in the first 12 months of life leads to a 400% increase risk of gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease later in life!
If the gluten wasn't bad enough, Goldfish and other kids snacks, also contain artificial colors and flavors that trick their brain into thinking they are eating the tastiest food in the world. Once their taste buds and brain are negatively impacted by the high from these artificial flavors, it makes it hard for them to enjoy "real food" which you may try to serve them for lunch or dinner. And do you know what the MOST common topic I get contacted about is? How to get toddlers to not be such picky eaters. Not a surprise!
So, if Goldfish aren't a great snack, what is?
Try homemade "REAL FOOD" snacks. These are not processed, boxed, or packaged. They are nutrient dense and will not damage their gut, or taint their tastebuds. They will nourish their brain and immune system.
Healthy snacks for kids over 12 months
Note: *Please buy organic and/or pastured, grassfed animal foods for your children. If not mentioned, my food recommendations always imply organic foods, or pastured (animals raised outdoors and free roaming on pesticide free grass), and never injected with hormones.
- Dehydrated crispy veggies: Buy a dehydrator and save tons of money doing it yourself at home. Fun!
- Crispy Kale Chips (homemade in dehydrator stays crispy for a week!)
- Salmon Jerky Strips by Vital Choice (no nitrates) or make your own at home with a dehydrator.
- SeaSnax Seaweed sheets (Olive oil and sea salt, no GMO oil. Can be cut into little squares)
- Coconut chips (organic, raw low heat dehydrated, unsweetened)
- Coconut tortilla wraps by ThePureWraps (gluten and grain free)
- Parmesan Chips (homemade, gluten-free, grain-free)
- Dried Fruit by Just Tomatoes, etc. (organic or conventional, order online)
- Granola Bars and trail mix by JK Gourmet (grain-free, gluten-free, honey sweetened)
- Goji Berries (may be a chocking hazard for kids under 3)
- Dried Mulberries (may be a chocking hazard for kids under 3)
- Caveman Cookies are a real treat! Made with nuts, honey and berries. Gluten-free and grain-free.
- Homemade organic popcorn with butter, Celtic sea salt, or Parmesan. (this air popper device is amazing)
- Fruit (cut up and varied through the week)
- Homemade healthy Jello (using diluted fruit juice and natural gelatin like Bernard Jensen's 100% bovine)
- Full fat plain grassfed yogurt or kefir with mashed fruit or raw honey.
- Hummus with cucumber or carrots for dipping
- Mixed Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds (Kids must be given soaked nuts which are much easier to digest and soaking removes enzyme inhibitors and phytates which interfere with calcium absorption and can cause tummy aches. You can purchased healthy soaked nuts, or learn to make your own.
- Almond or cashew butter (from soaked nuts) on apple slice.
- Trail mix (using soaked and dried nuts, chocking hazard for kids under 2)
- Hard or Soft boiled Egg: Hard boiled 7 min in boiling water, or soft boiled 3 min in boiling water. You can take the egg out of the shell and place it whole into a little container.
- Mini sandwich rollup made of gluten-free flat-bread like millet and flax Lavash raw cheese, and pasture-raised (or organic) turkey or chicken. Or a sandwich using PaleoBread (grain-free) or sprouted bread. Use plenty of organic or grass-fed butter on bread, or home-made mayonnaise for its fat sulable vitamins A, D, K2.
- Wrap with chicken, cheese, avocado. Use coconut tortilla wraps (gluten and grain free)
- Sweet potato cakes (round slices baked or sauteed in coconut oil and pinch of sea salt)
- Avocado cubes
- Shrimp (from clean waters)
- Beans or lentils (always soak your beans and grains before cooking)
- Salmon Roe (Ikura)
- FRESH juice (homemade in juicer - mix in 1 veggie with 1 fruit. (ie. apples with 1/4 red or green cabbage or celery). Dilute with water.
- Raw cheese cubes and apple cubes mixed together.
- Italian: Baby tomato, fresh mozzarella, & fresh basil.
- Italian: Prosciutto and melon (cut into bite size pieces)
- Fruit and cream (coconut cream or cultured yogurt - full fat and grassfed)
- Homemade muffins (Coconut Blueberry, or Pumpkin/almond). If store bought, always buy gluten-free or grain-free).
- Greek: Greek yogurt with walnuts and raw honey
- Sushi: roll up seaweed Nori with avocado, zucchini strips, crab meat or salmon or anything creative! Cut into bite size pieces and serve with dipping sauce (i.e. Bragg's Liquid Aminos or homemade mayo)
More Resources: Nourishing Snack Ideas for Kids
- 100 Nut-Free Real Food snacks for "nut-free" schools from 100DaysofRealFood.com
- Real food snack ideas from The Nourishing Home for school lunches and snacks
- Jenny at NourishedKitchen.com on Healthy Treats for Kids
- Sara at TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com has videos on Healthy Snacks for Kids
- Jen at Weston A Price Foundation's article on Nourishing a Growing Baby
Click here to read about healthy snacks for infants UNDER 12 months.