Healthy On-The-Go Baby Food
I’ll fully admit to keeping puffs in my diaper bag for a quick baby snack. But as far as nutrition goes? We can do better. It just takes a little planning. Healthy on-the-go baby food is easier than you think.
As a mom of two, I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be VERY prepared and always have food on hand for my baby when we are out and about. Because when she’s hungry, she lets me know. Loudly.
That means you can always find food in my diaper bag!
I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy on-the-go baby food options with you. I know I’m not the only mama who finds it impossible to be home for every meal and snack time. For tips on restaurant dining, read this post.
Some of these foods are only appropriate for older babies (9-12 months) who have experience with solids. Remember to avoid trying new foods for the first time when you are away from home. (To reduce the risk of choking or possible allergic reactions.)
Healthy On-The-Go Baby Food
Foods Not Requiring Refrigeration
These are foods that you can safely keep in your diaper bag for longer periods of time without requiring refrigeration. You know- the stuff that gets smushed to the bottom of your bag, and you don’t know how long it’s been there for, but you’re 95% sure you can still feed it to the baby.
- Pouches. Okay, this is not revolutionary. But pouches are SO convenient, and they are my number one choice when away from home. Baby can feed themselves and after a little bit of practice, it’s mostly mess-free. While a little pricey, my favorite shelf-stable pouches are from Serenity Kids. I love them because they are high in nutrients, and contain exactly what babies need. They include a combo of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and some iron. Iron is so important for breastfed babies, and often something they are lacking in their diet. (It’s the #1 nutrient I often see missing from baby-led weaners’ diets!) Oh, and they taste WAY better than any kind I’ve bought off the shelf at the grocery store.
2. Freeze-dried fruit or veggies. This is a great alternative to puffs. Freeze-dried fruit and veggies have their water taken out, but retain their nutrition. The texture is dry and almost powdery, and will melt in your baby’s mouth. Word to the wise: do NOT give them freeze-dried blueberries when you’re out. The blue/purple color stains EVERYTHING- face, hands, clothes, you name it. Our favorites are mango, peach, apple, and strawberry.
3. Dried fruit. Raisins used to be considered a choking hazard for babies, but more recent research shows this is not the case. Yay! Raisins are easy to carry around, and little ones love ’em. You can also try chopping dates, prunes, or dried figs. Just avoid any dried fruit with sugar added (like craisins) or anything too chewy (like dried mango). Dried fruit is best for older babies/toddlers- the texture can be difficult for babies 6-10 months.
4. Little Nut Peanut Squeeze Packs. These little peanut butter squeeze packs have coconut milk and fruit added. It helps make the texture less sticky so they can eat it right from the pack, you can squeeze it out onto a spoon, mix it into oatmeal, or spread it on a banana. Very versatile.
5. Coconut oil packets. This is another easy fat source. Though healthy fats are essential for babies, it can be hard to get fats on-the-go for them. Trader Joe’s sells them. Or find them on Amazon here or here. My favorite way to use these: spread the oil on freeze-dried fruit, like an apple slice. This boosts the calories of the snack, since freeze-dried fruit isn’t very high in calories. You can also stir it into oatmeal.
6. Baby oatmeal. Oatmeal isn’t the quickest or least messy on-the-go option, BUT it’s easy to pack and I like to have it when we’re traveling. I prefer baby oatmeal to regular since you don’t need to cook it. Just mix with liquid and stir. Like I mentioned before, you can easily mix in some coconut oil or the Little Nut squeeze packs. You could also mix in some regular peanut or almond butter, like these squeeze packs.
7. Cheerios. This is a classic, and for good reason. Cheerios are gluten-free and only have 1g of sugar in 1 cup. Plus they are good for practicing that pincer grasp. Most families with kids have these on hand. Just dump some in a baggy or snack cup and go!
Note: I recommend organic oatmeal and organic O’s cereal, if your budget allows, to reduce exposure to glyphosate.
These foods need to be kept cool, or served within about 2 hours of leaving the fridge. Among our healthy favorites, these are the least messy foods I can think of!
1. Fresh fruit. Soft, low-mess fruits like banana, halved blueberries, sliced strawberries, diced peaches, or diced pears.
2. Cooked veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, winter squash, green beans, carrots, and brussels sprouts are a few of our favorites. I dice them and roast in some oil. Baby can easily eat these leftovers cold when out and about.
3. Beans. Go for no salt added beans if you buy them in a can.
4. Leftover meat. As long as it’s not too saucy, leftover meat is usually not very messy, and makes good finger food. Cut up meatballs or meatloaf, or tender chicken, beef, pork, etc. into bite-sized pieces.
5. (Very) small cubes of cheese. Choose softer cheeses like muenster, mozzarella, or monterey jack. You could even cut up a string cheese. Just make sure the pieces are small enough for them to easily chew. You can do shredded, but I find that to be messier so I save it for home.
6. Bread/pancake/waffle. These can be left plain, or top with a thin smear of butter, cream cheese, nut butter, or hummus. Tear off little pieces or cut into cubes or strips.
Snacks for Mom and Big Bro or Big Sis
Baby isn’t the only one who needs snacks on-the-go. We find our favorites here! (Disclosure- I work as their nutrition advisor. That means all snacks are approved by me, a Registered Dietitian.)
Note: This post contains some affiliate links.