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55 Healthy Snacks for Picky Eaters

These ideas for healthy snacks for picky eaters can help inspire overwhelmed parents, unsure of what to feed their kiddos. They are nutritious, easy and well-accepted by kids!

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If your child is a picky eater, you are well aware of the overwhelm and frustrations that can come along with getting your kids to eat.

It can be challenging when you prepare various foods and your child refuses to try new things.

If your fussy eater has you wondering how you can ensure they get the nutrients they need despite meal-time challenges, look no further. Today’s post is all about healthy snacks for picky eaters.

As a parent, you’re probably doing the meal prep and snack prep for your kids.

Acorn squash muffins in orange blanket with raisins

You’re likely preparing healthy dishes that incorporate new ingredients. Then one day your child decides they don’t like a certain meal, texture, or food group – oh no!

This is especially common in the toddler years when those precious babes become independent.

But, good nutrition during childhood is important for several reasons.

The growth of healthy muscles and bones, brain development, powerful immune systems, etc. all depend on a healthy diet.

So what in the world do you feed them so that they get the required nutrients and you can avoid a fight over food?

Ideas for Picky Eaters

If you’ve read my child feeding posts, you know I am working at raising intuitive eaters of my own.

From baby-led weaning and getting a toddler to eat vegetables to promoting intuitive eating for teens, you play a significant role as a parent.

Fortunately, when I lack the energy to meal prep snacks, I rely on my favorite buys at Thrive Market – like almond flour chips, chicken and maple mini sticks and high protein cheese crisps.

toddler pushing stencil into sandwich

There’s a division of responsibility when feeding a child: you decide what to serve, when to serve it, and where they’ll eat it. On the flip side, your child decides how much they’ll eat and if they’ll eat it at all.

There is no force feeding here.

Yes, that means that you can spend time preparing a delicious meal or snack, and your child may decide to not eat a single bite.

Here’s where fun and healthy snacks for picky eaters come in.

This post includes tips for feeding a picky eater and some tasty snack ideas that will introduce new foods. Many of these are vegetable recipes for toddlers, but may have them disguised or made to look more appealing.

Keep Introducing Foods

I know it’s exhausting to continually clean off plates that have untouched food. It’s tempting to just give up on that food altogether when serving meals to picky eaters.

However, I encourage you to not give up! Research shows that it can take up to 8-10 exposures to a food for your child to accept a new food.

Let’s take broccoli for example. Maybe you started with broccoli for baby led weaning and your baby loved it.

Fast forward to the toddler years and things have changed. You’ve served your child steamed broccoli a couple of times because it’s one of your favorites.

toddler playing with lettuce

You tell your child about all of its amazing health benefits and why they should eat the little trees on their plates. Yet they refuse.

Instead of no longer making it because you know they won’t eat it, just keep serving it as often as you’d like! Perhaps try it roasted or covered in cheese, or raw served next to something they like.

Don’t make a big deal out of it or say anything when they ignore the broccoli. Place it on the table in front of them. Eat it yourself to model the behavior.

TIP FOR PICKY EATERS

The trick is not to say anything about it if they decide to skip it. Don’t voice your frustration. The same goes for if they finally take a bite. Forgo the celebration.


Remember that food is food. Attach no moral judgment to it.

We want to avoid food guilt and emotional eating issues later in life.

With a little patience, your child will be eating the foods you eat, without chaos or micromanagement.

Offer Snacks Regularly

Part of your feeding responsibility as a parent is the timing of meals and snacks. This is especially important for serving picky eaters!

You decide WHEN your child eats. If you get busy and snacktime goes by the wayside, you may end up with an over-hungry child.

Any by regularly offering snacks, you can easily offer some of these healthy baby led weaning muffins that are chockfull of nutrition.

clock ticking time

Not only is there the potential for meltdowns, but your child will probably be less likely to be adventurous with food.

They’ll crave predictability (ie – things they like) that will satisfy their hunger quickly.

Think of the last time you were “hangry”. What foods did you want? Biological hunger makes us crave high-carb, high-fat foods. Often the ultra-processed ones.

They are going to want what they know they like, not foods they’ve never tried.

But when you offer snacks and meals at regular intervals, you’ll avoid the frantic need for food. Instead, snack time can be a peaceful event where your child feels safe to experiment.

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Don’t Pressure Your Child to Eat

Children normally will eat according to their hunger and stop when they are full. Feeling fullness is natural for kids.

Do you find yourself constantly encouraging your child to take one more bite, or to stop playing so they can eat?

Or making your child eat their veggies before they can leave the table?

Your well-meaning comments may be interfering with your child’s natural ability to respond to their body’s cues. I know you just want some easy snacks for picky eaters that they will actually eat!

mother yelling at child for pressure at the table

This study found that when parents were more strict and rule-focused, kids were more likely to be picky.

Lighten the mood at meal time. Don’t worry about the food they are choosing to eat. Trust that they will eat when they are hungry.

When they are not interested in food, don’t force it.

Try New Food Textures

Does your child avoid new foods because of their sensitivity to textures?

This research review suggests that if a picky eater avoids new textures, you should take a sensory approach to feeding.

In other words, let your kids play with their food. Let them touch it. Have them help you in the kitchen.

making cookie batter with toddler in kitchen

Maybe you were told not to play with your food, but it turns out that it can be a great way to expand your child’s palate, especially when you have a picky eater toddler.

In fact, sensory play with vegetables has been shown to increase their consumption.

Not only will you be a fun mom, but you’ll also be teaching them valuable kitchen skills AND getting them to eat more variety. Without hassling them, I may add.

Furthermore, keep introducing new foods and foods they haven’t tolerated. Like any other new food, your child may need repeated exposure to the new texture to finally accept it.

food art and food activities for toddlers

Add Dips With Meals

When introducing a new food, you could try adding a familiar and favorite dip. Dips are the perfect pairing with finger foods for toddlers.

Dip ideas include:

Snack plate with carrots, turkey, strawberries and peanut butter

Make it Fun

Finally, remember that snack time doesn’t have to be boring.

Snack time is not just an opportunity for quality nutrition but for bonding and fun, especially when serving toddler recipes for picky eaters.

Make the snack together. Read a book about the food you’ll be eating. Play a game with it.

Consider trying one of these food activities for toddlers.

topping slices of bread with raisins and pomegranate seeds

To add some excitement to your child’s snack routine, spice it up with something new.

55 Healthy Snacks for Picky Eaters

To do so, I’ve rounded up some fun and healthy snacks for picky eaters they’ll be sure to enjoy.

These good snacks for picky eaters include fruits and veggies, healthy fats, protein and more.

You can offer some of these options as protein for kids lunches if you struggle with lunch box protein options, like many parents do.

Remember, exposure counts and even if they don’t accept these snacks the first time around, the likelihood increases as you continue to offer them.

Snacks for Picky Eaters

These ideas for snacks for picky eaters will help reduce the frustration in the kitchen. Aim for more exposure and if possible, sit down with your kids in the kitchen to enjoy these snack ideas.

References:

  • Nekitsing C, Blundell-Birtill P, Cockroft JE, Hetherington MM. Systematic review and meta-analysis of strategies to increase vegetable consumption in preschool children aged 2-5 years. Appetite. 2018;127:138-154. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.019
  • Podlesak AK, Mozer ME, Smith-Simpson S, Lee SY, Donovan SM. Associations between Parenting Style and Parent and Toddler Mealtime Behaviors. Curr Dev Nutr. 2017;1(6):e000570. Published 2017 May 31. doi:10.3945/cdn.117.000570
  • Nekitsing C, Blundell-Birtill P, Cockroft JE, Fildes A, Hetherington MM. Increasing Intake of an Unfamiliar Vegetable in Preschool Children Through Learning Using Storybooks and Sensory Play: A Cluster Randomized Trial. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019;119(12):2014-2027. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2019.05.017
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