Snacks can be a great way to introduce your baby to new foods and provide extra nutrients.
But how – and when – should you include them in your little peanut’s diet?
We’re going to take a look at some of the top snacks for babies under the expert eye of Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Kacie Barnes.
Plus, we’ll give you some hints and tips to make the process fun and pain-free.
So if you’re ready, let’s get started!
In this article: 📝
- When can babies have snacks?
- What are good snacks for babies?
- What are good snacks for toddlers?
- How should I introduce snacks?
- Snacks for babies: practical tips
- Do I have to make my own snacks for baby?
When can babies have snacks?
As soon as your baby has got the hang of solids, you can start thinking about snacks.
“I typically recommend snacking starting around 12+ months since breastmilk and/or formula usually takes the place of a snack up until 12 months”, advices Barnes.
The right baby snacks can be a brilliant way to stimulate your little one’s appetite.
And they can provide lots of vitamins and minerals to help them grow and develop.
So this is the perfect time to start introducing snacks.
“By the time they are 12 months old, babies are usually eating three meals a day with one or two snacks,” says Barnes.
What are good snacks for babies?
The foods that make the best snacks for babies will vary as they grow and develop.
Mashed foods will be easiest for them to handle in the early days.
But at around 9 to 10 months, your baby will develop what’s known as their pincer grip.
That means they’ll be able to pick up food using their thumb and index finger.
And it opens up a whole new world of snacking opportunities!
So let’s look at some of the options for different stages in your baby’s development.
What can a 7-month-old baby snack on?
Your baby won’t yet have that elusive pincer grip at seven months old.
And many babies are likely to be teething at around this time.
They’ll also be moving towards three meals a day.
If you feel your little one is getting hungry between times, a good option is to offer extra breastmilk or formula feeds.
Feeding snacks too early can have disadvantages.
It can fill your baby up, so they’re less interested in their milk.
And that, in turn, can lead to imbalances, or even deficiencies, in nutrients.
What snacks can I give my 10-month-old?
Snacking is a much better option by the time your baby gets to nine or ten months old.
Pretty much any mashable food will work well.
Here are some options to consider:
- Mashed fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwis, mangos, pears, and peaches are all good bets. And bananas and avocados get top marks when it comes to mashability! 🥑
- Mashed steamed veg: String beans, sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and beans all mash well. And they’re a great source of vitamins and minerals. 🍠🥦
- Yogurt: Find out when babies can eat yogurt here.
- Cottage cheese
- Eggs: Scrambled or hard-boiled and mashed (find out when babies can eat eggs here). 🥚
- Hummus: Find out when babies can eat hummus here.
- Pasta: Mashed and well-cooked. 🍝
- Applesauce: Just make sure it’s the kind without added sugar.
All these are healthy as well as tasty.
And they’re not too difficult or time-consuming to prepare.
Don’t be hard on yourself about making everything from scratch. Baby food pouches and low-sodium teether crackers can be a great way to add variety.
These days, there are some excellent ready-made snacks for babies using high-quality ingredients.
“Babies this age can also eat things like puffs that dissolve,” Barnes recommends, “they aren’t always the most nutritious thing, but they’re great for refining that pincer grasp, keeping your baby occupied at a restaurant or while you make food, and practicing with a different texture!”
What are good snacks for toddlers?
By the time your little one has passed the twelve-month mark, snacks can become even more varied:
- Oatmeal 🥣
- Nut butter. This can be almond or peanut butter, thinned with liquid or on top of something like a cracker or a thinly sliced piece of apple. 🍏
- Fish: Including canned options like salmon and tuna (find out when babies can eat fish here). 🐟
- Dried fruits: “Unsweetened only” advices Barnes, “,and make sure they are small-sized, like raisins (not the jumbo ones), or diced medjool dates, or freeze-dried fruits like blueberries or strawberries. 🍓
And if you fancy baking, some of the best snacks for babies can be whipped up without too much trouble:
- Pancakes 🥞
- Egg muffins: Or any type of low-sugar muffin. Think blueberry or pumpkin. 🧁
- Biscuits: Which can all be sweetened with fruit and veg. 🍪
All of these will give your little peanut a delicious, nutritious snack without a speck of refined sugar.
Head here for more healthy snack ideas for toddlers.
It’s good to let your little one feed themselves at this age.
Yes, it’s inevitably messy.
But it’s a brilliant way to improve their hand-eye coordination.
So take a deep breath and invest in a baby splash mat to handle the worst of the fallout!
How should I introduce snacks?
Snacks are a great way to help your little one develop healthy eating habits.
Try to offer healthy baby snacks from two different food groups.
That will help ensure they have a balanced diet, providing all the nutrients they need.
“Complex snacks also help as they get older,” says Barnes, “offering a mix of carbs/protein/fat when possible (or at least two of the three) can help keep them fuller between meals and more satisfied and energized for their days. ⚡️
And if you need a refresher on the five food groups, we’ve got you covered:
- Protein: Meat, fish, eggs, pulses, and beans.
- Dairy and alternatives
- Grains: Including oatmeal, regular pasta, and whole-grain muffins and pancakes.
If you’re buying ready-made snacks, look for low sodium options that don’t contain added sugar.
Also, try to cultivate good habits around meals and snacks.
Eating together is an excellent opportunity to spend time as a family.
Try to resist the temptation to switch on the TV or have your phone on the table.
(And don’t beat yourself up if this happens from time to time. Devices are a huge part of our lives.)
Regular mealtimes can also help set your little one’s expectations about when they’ll eat and help them develop a healthy relationship with food.
“As well as give them an internal clock so they know when to expect snacks/meals and are appropriately hungry for each,” adds Barnes.
Snacks for babies: practical tips
If you’re making snacks from scratch, making a large batch at once can be a great time saver.
Then just freeze what you won’t use straight away.
That will give you a supply of healthy snacks that you can prepare with minimal effort.
Fresh fruit is great, but it can go off quickly.
Freeze-dried options are a good alternative.
They’ll melt pretty much the moment they go into your baby’s mouth.
And that means there’s no risk of choking.
Home-made popsicles are a perfect option too.
Just puree your little one’s favorite fruit, add a dollop of whole milk yogurt, and pour into molds.
(Old yogurt pots with a spoon in the middle for the stick work just as well.)
Just remember they’ll need half a day or so to freeze solid.
Do I have to make my own snacks for baby?
Not at all!
We get it, time is at a premium (and a shortage) when you’re a mama feeding a little one.
If you’re after some fresh, frozen healthy baby meals directly to your door, you can get 25% off your first 3 boxes of Mamamade purees with the code PEANUT25. Shop here.
Building a healthy relationship with food
Snacks can play an important part in your little one’s development.
They can introduce new flavors and different sources of nutrients.
And good snacking habits can be a great way to help your baby develop a healthy relationship with food.
But there’s no need to slog over making complicated snacks from scratch.
Mashing a banana or avocado is every bit as good.
And including ready-made snacks is fine too.
So relax, and enjoy introducing your little peanut to a world of new tastes, smells, and textures!