Healthy snacks for picky eaters can be tricky and finding the “biggest bang for your buck” with regards to nutrients, calories, etc. can be even trickier! My hope is that below, you’ll find some ideas that you and your kiddo can run with and have fun with during those couple of snack times between meals!
“They’ve got a bar for that!” like “there’s an app for that!” They’ve found a way to put anything into a bar these days. Bars now come packed with all sorts of great nutrients, and the convenience can’t be beat. Also found in so many flavors and different textures, (Kind bars, Rx bars, That’s It bars, Yumi, Plum- Jammy Sammy), you can’t go wrong with trying some of these items with your kiddo.
Putting food items on kebab sticks/skewers can make it more appealing and more fun! Different shaped cookie cutters can be a fun way to cut out fruit, cheese, etc. to put on a kebab and your kiddo can take little bunny bites off any side, nibbling away!
Sometimes, just closing a gooey substance between two items so that you can’t see it, can make it a bit less daunting. For high protein snacks for picky eaters, try putting a nut butter or cream cheese between two crackers and munch away! You could also try a cream cheese graham cracker sandwich, which is reminiscent of a delightful cheesecake.
A fun summery treat that you can also enjoy all year round. You can make these from fruit juices or from more creamy blended smoothies. The options for popsicles can be endless, which is why it’s one of our favorite go-to healthy snacks for picky eaters.
Sometimes yogurt is just not appealing to kids, especially those with any sensory processing difficulties. It’s wet and goopy and can just seem unpleasant. In a low stress playful way, having your kid interact with yogurt in any way can get them more comfortable with the idea of tasting this sweet, protein packed snack. Put small drops of yogurt onto a flat surface (a cookie sheet, placemat, cutting board, etc.) and throw it in the freezer for a while to make a more solid, exciting snack.
Introducing raw fruits and veggies can be difficult for picky eaters. Often picky eaters have found comfort in eating things that are crunchy or very chewy as this helps calm their nervous systems. Instead of trying to have your kid eat apple slices or green beans, try dried apple slices, or freeze-dried green beans. These very chewy or very crunchy versions of the foods can be your gateway to enjoying a larger variety of fruits and vegetables.
You can pack smoothies and milkshakes with so many wonderful nutrients from items such as spinach, Greek yogurt, protein powder and frozen fruits. Have your child make these with you so that they’re aware of everything that is going into the delicious drink, and they may just snag a bite of the frozen fruit or Greek yogurt that you’re going to blend in.
Making muffins or other fun breads together can be an excellent way to explore multiple ingredients in different ways, while packing these items with nutrients. Getting veggies like zucchini or carrots into your kiddos diet can be made a lot easier when they are enjoyed in a delicious muffin. I highly recommend exploring these items such as the whole zucchini or carrot and talking about how it will go into the yummy muffin without being secretive about it. This is the best way to generalize eating these items over different contexts in the future!
Peeling into fun strings, cutting cheese with shaped cookie cutters, dancing or wiggling them along your tray using them as a paintbrush with a puree can be an exciting way to explore protein packed and calcium rich cheeses.
Crispy foods can be an easier way to explore foods for picky eaters who may not like wet or sticky food items. There are now many flavors of veggie sticks and snap pea crisps to explore, keeping things varied just slightly so that your picky eater doesn’t develop a food jag, eating the same exact food consistently, becoming bored of that food and then dropping it from their diet. This is something we always want to try to avoid by making slight changes to preferred foods!
We hope you enjoy these healthy snacks for picky eaters with your kiddos. Stay in close contact with your OT or SLP feeding therapist during food exploration for more tips and tricks!
Courtney Shea is a pediatric occupational therapist at the NAPA Center in Boston. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors with her family and their dog Kolana. She is often caught overpacking for weekend getaways and adventures. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, spending time at the beach and being silly with her sons.
At NAPA Center, we offer both intensive feeding therapy and relationship-based developmental feeding therapy to address feeding issues. We have multiple clinics located throughout the US and Australia. Our occupational and speech therapists take a comprehensive approach targeting muscular coordination, sensory processes, and social experiences associated with eating. We also offer VitalStim therapy for swallowing difficulties. We take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. If you’re interested in learning more about pediatric feeding therapy at NAPA Center, send us a contact form and our team will be in touch shortly!