toddler

When toddlers reach the stage of wanting to feed themselves, it’s tempting to reach for those squeeze packs of pureed fruits and veggies, or baby-friendly crackers and crisps. But you don’t have to go processed to give them great finger foods. Try these healthy alternatives instead.

Beans

The perfect finger food size in a near-perfect nutritional package! Beans are high in protein and fiber, not to mention all kinds of good vitamins and minerals, and serving them with avocado (another great finger food) can help increase baby’s absorption of the iron in beans. If you’re worried about BPA from canned beans, dry beans are super easy to make in the crock pot.

Sweet Potatoes

That sweet treat is packed full of vitamin A and C, making it a great choice for growing babies. Baked and cut into cubes or roasted in sticks, sweet potatoes are great even for kids with no teeth yet!

Frozen Peas

Organic frozen peas are an easy veggie to keep on hand at all times. Just thaw and serve. How much easier does it get? In addition to being a great source of vitamins and iron, picking up peas is good for babies hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as well.

Fish

Low-mercury fish like salmon, light tuna and tilapia are excellent sources of omega-3s to help build baby’s brain. In addition, they’re soft and easy to flake into small pieces. Plus, it’s easy to keep a can of tuna or salmon on hand for super-fast meal prep.

Grated Cheese

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, not to mention fat, which babies need (up to age 2). Plus, it’s the perfect topping to make veggies a little more exciting. Don’t assume that your kiddo won’t like stronger flavored cheese without trying! Give them cheddar, Swiss, Monterrey jack and even parmesan to try.

Grated Apples

Once kids progress beyond applesauce but before they have a full set of chompers, many parents stop offering apples. But grating apples makes them into a perfect finger food with tons of fiber that helps boost the immune system. Peel and core an apple and then send it through the grating attachment of your food processor to speed up prep.

Soft Fruits and Veggies

All kinds of fruits and veggies can be perfect finger foods, so long as they are cut into bite-sized pieces. Lots of fruits like cantaloupe, mango, kiwi, strawberries (after age 1) and bananas are ready to eat, and veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, carrots and even kale can be steamed to perfection in just minutes.

Eggs

Eggs are a perfect source of protein, iron and tons of other key nutrients for toddlers. Boil and chop them or scramble them up with added veggies for a kid-friendly “omelet.” They’re quick, easy, delicious and fun to eat.

Image: Paleontour