Why is it soo hard to find healthy convenience store snacks for toddlers? Why?!
Some days, the only option for snack time is running in to Walgreens or CVS, but healthy options there can be limited, to say the least!
Let’s be honest, it’s hard enough to find healthy snack foods for ourselves as adults.
When you’re looking for (mostly) real ingredients, low(ish) sugar, and somewhat decent nutrient content, the snack aisle gets reduced down to just a handful of options that make the cut. Add in that you’re shopping for a toddler, and the list gets even shorter. Now, you’re thinking about all of that PLUS dodging choking hazards, like whole nuts and popcorn, and considering all the things you know they won’t touch (like weird textures and flavor combinations). Suddenly this convenience store doesn’t feel so convenient!
Well stress no more, because I’ve got you covered! Today I’m going to show you exactly what I look for when I choose healthy packaged snacks for a toddler at my local convenience store. I’ve even got a list you can take to Walgreens or CVS. It’ll make this whole situation a no-brainer in no time!
But before we jump in, a quick reminder and PSA: The world won’t end if you end up with a bag of Goldfish!
Especially if you go in there with your little one and they are screaming the entire time, “I WANT GOLDFISHHHHH MAAAMAAAAAAAA.” (Not that that has ever happened to any of us, right?). Remember that fed is better than hangry. And, you maintaining your sanity is definitely a factor to consider!
Want to watch instead? Check out my YouTube Video on choosing healthy packaged snacks (and make sure to subscribe!)
Want to know how I choose convenience store snacks for toddlers?
My first priority is to give them something that will actually sustain them for a bit. Snacks that provide at least some nutrition and are more than just “crunchy air” keep them from being hungry and whiny again an hour later.⠀
So, the first thing I do is glance at the ingredients to see what’s on there. I’m looking for ingredients I recognize and asking myself: Is it mostly real food? I like to choose those real food options whenever I possibly can.⠀
Next, I look at the nutrition facts. Protein, fiber, and fat will help keep them full. And, since many kids don’t get enough fiber in their diet, it’s helpful to incorporate some fiber at snack time.⠀
Fiber & Protein: Look for at least 2 grams of fiber and protein.
Fat: Choose a snack with some fat, since it’s important for brain development, but don’t worry about finding a specific amount in a snack.
Sugar: Look for 6g or less of added sugar. Remember that more than 6g of natural sugars from fruit are okay. Sometimes labels don’t list how many grams are added vs. natural, which is super annoying! But, if the ingredient list is simple and clear, then sometimes you can figure it out. For example, something like you see on this label below would be totally okay (it’s a Larabar).
Sodium: Opt for snacks with under 250mg sodium per serving.
Remember, you do not have to strictly stick to these rules. They’ll just help guide you in knowing whether something is a more nutritious option or not!
Healthy Toddler Snacks at Walgreens
Because it’s nearly impossible to always serve the perfect, home-made snacks, I want you to have some packaged options that will do the trick. You might have to look kind of hard to find the healthy options at Walgreens or CVS, but I swear they are there!
The picks on this list won’t all fall exactly in line with the guidelines I laid out above, and that’s okay! Those guidelines are what I strive for, but it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing type of deal. Don’t feel like you have to put something back on the shelf just because it doesn’t meet every single one.
And, if you have an especially picky eater, just find something you think they will like! Fed is always better than hangry, especially if you have a long trip or a long day ahead of you.
With all of that said, here are my healthy toddler snack picks from Walgreens:
Nature Valley Biscuits Cinnamon & Almond Butter
These are higher in sugar than I typically like, but my son LOVES them, so that’s a win! Plus, 2 of the first 3 ingredients are oats and almond butter– great healthy ingredients that I like to see! So for us, this one balances out and is a great option.
SkinnyPop Mini Cakes Sea Salt
I really like these for the 2 and up crowd, because the texture may be too advanced for a young toddler. But if you know your younger toddler will be okay with it (or just want to give it a try), I like the nutrition content of these for any age.
Calbee Harvest Snaps Green Pea Snack Crisps Original
These are made primarily from green peas (real food ingredient, check!), and have a ton of protein and fiber (check and check!), making them a great option. (Full disclosure: I have worked with this brand in the past, but they didn’t pay to be added to this list.)
Carr’s Crackers Whole Wheat
If your kid just wants a cracker and you just want to appease them, this is a good choice!
Dole Fruit Bowl Mandarin Oranges in 100% Juice
Truthfully, this is a little messy as far as car snacks go, but since it is the healthiest packaged fruit option you’re going to find, it makes the list! Make sure to find the fruit packed in 100% juice instead of syrup.
Nabisco Triscuit Baked Whole Grain Wheat Crackers
Another healthy cracker option I’m happy to offer my kids. I do wish they had the Triscuit Thin Crisps (they’re just a little easier for a toddler to chew than the original ones), but nutrition-wise, these ones still make the cut.
Larabar Energy Bar Cashew Cookie
These feel like a treat (and taste like one) but they have no added sugar, super simple ingredients, and lots of fiber! And don’t be scared by the high sugar content! Just like the Larabar in the picture above, it’s all natural and coming from just fruit.
If your toddler likes raisins, these are a super easy way to get some fruit in while on the move.
An easy win! Choose from string cheese or Babybel for littles.
Now how about some easy lunch ideas?
Take all the stress out of planning and making lunches for your little one. The Healthy Toddler Lunch Guide has no-cook lunches that are toddler-friendly (and grown-up friendly, because these are so quick and simple to make). Get out of the pb&j rut with some just as easy but super nutritious meals!
There are ideas for at-home lunches and packed lunches, so no matter what your day looks like, you’ll find lots of ideas that are just right for you.
Psst…nut-free options are included, too!