Snacks & drinks

Toddlers need to snack to create energy and fuel their explorations, and to grow in a healthy way. Their tummies aren’t big enough to take on board enough energy and nutrients from just three meals a day, so they need two to three snacks too.

Dietitians support that toddlers need the extra nutrients healthy snacking can provide. Of course what’s not healthy is snacking (or grazing) so much that your child is never hungry at mealtimes. But the right snack at the right time is often just what they need.

Why snacks?

  • Eating little and often is ideal as little tummies only hold small amounts.
  • Tops up little ones’ intake of nutrients, to meet their daily needs.
  • Provides essential calories to meet toddlers’ energy needs.
  • Adds variety to the diet with different tastes and textures.
  • Gives opportunities to try new foods either at home or out and about.
  • Keeps your little ones going in between meals.
  • Helps teach healthy food habits.

Good snacking

  • Variety is important - lots of shapes, tastes and textures help to expand your little one’s repertoire of foods eaten and this helps to have a wider range of nutrients.
  • Try a mix of sweet and savoury snacks to enjoy different flavours.
  • Ensure a balance of different foods – some treats can be tasty snacks but not all snacks should be treat foods.

Try our suggestions for good snacks

At home

  • Fruit slices dipped in yogurt or fromage frais.
  • Toasted crumpets, teacakes, muffins with soft cheese.
  • Homemade banana bread, carrot cake, fruit muffins, scones.
  • Rice cakes, breadsticks, veggie sticks with hummous, mashed avocado or salsa dip.

Out & about

  • Pot of dried fruit with cubes of cheese.
  • Flapjack or cereal bar.
  • Mini sandwiches or wraps with tuna & sweetcorn or peanut butter.
  • Oatcakes and slices of cheese.

Tasty toddler snacks to try

Top tip

It is important to offer toddlers a range of tastes and textures. This will have long-term benefits in terms of their willingness to try new things in later life.

Drinks for toddlers

By their first birthday, little ones can have all of their drinks from a cup rather than a bottle. They need about 6-8 drinks per day in total (100-120ml per serving) and water and milk are ideal.

They can have whole cow’s milk as a main drink, and about 300ml (just over half a pint) of milk each day is plenty. Too much milk and your little one might be too full to eat. It is a good time to stop the bedtime milk feed as your toddler can sleep through without this now.

If you do offer your toddler a fruit-based juice, make sure it is diluted with at least 10 parts water and that they only have it in a cup with meals.