The 10 Best Healthy Snacks for Kids of 2021, According to a Dietitian

You can feel good about buying these snacks for your kids.

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Harvest Snap Peas at Amazon

"These are the closest you’ll get to an actual vegetable when it comes to pre-packaged snacks."

Best Budget: Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels at Amazon

"Plain popcorn is extremely nutritious—three cups popped has 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein."

Best Cracker: Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Crackers at Amazon

"This snack uses organic cheddar cheese and ingredients like paprika for color and rosemary extract for freshness."

Best Dried Fruit: Signature’s Dried Plums at Amazon

"These dried plums provide potassium, vitamin A, iron, and calcium."

Best Dried Fruit, Runner-Up: Peeled Snacks Organic Dried Mango at Amazon

"Half a cup of these chewy, sweet mangos has 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 21 grams of sugar, and 130 calories."

Best Squeeze Pack: Happy Tot Super Foods at Amazon

"These contain chia seeds, which provide 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein per pouch."

Best Nut Butter Pouch: Wild Friends Classic Creamy Almond Butter at Amazon

"These squeezable nut butters contain only 2 grams of sugar per pouch."

Best Bar: RX Kids Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar at Amazon

"This bar is a family favorite with whole food ingredients like dates, egg whites, peanuts, coconut oil, and sea salt."

Best Yogurt: Siggi’s Strawberry Low-Fat Yogurt Tubes at instacart.com

"Their flavored yogurts are some of the lowest in added sugar—without containing artificial sweeteners."

Best Puffs: Hippeas Vegan White Cheddar Organic Chickpea Puffs at Amazon

"You can buy a big bag for the house or single-serve bags, which are perfect for on-the-go or to pack in lunches."

Of course, the best snacks for kids are whole foods that pack protein, fiber, and healthy fat, like apples with peanut butter or carrots and hummus. But, busy moms know that whole food snacks aren’t always easy or convenient when packing lunches or on-the-go.

Thankfully, there are plenty of packaged snacks on the market for kids. Unfortunately, many of these snack options are full of sugar and lack the nutrients needed for your kiddos’ growing brains and bodies. Our nutritionist did the research for you and picked the healthiest options. Next time you’re scanning the snack aisle, look for snacks high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals and low in sugar. Check the ingredients list for mostly whole food ingredients and no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors.

Here, the best packaged healthy snacks for kids:

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Harvest Snap Peas

Harvest Snaps Lightly Salted Green Pea Snack Crisps

Courtesy of Amazon

Harvest Snap Peas are the closest you’ll get to an actual vegetable when it comes to pre-packaged snacks. That’s because the first ingredient is green peas. One serving, which is a generous 22 pieces, has 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Contrast that with other veggie crisps in the chip aisle that have enticing marketing but less than one gram of fiber and protein per serving.

These salty, crunchy, and delicious snacks can be eaten at home or on-the-go. Beware if you’re out and about, though, that your kids’ hands will probably be covered in “pea dust” after noshing on these, so have some wet wipes handy if you don’t want the seats in your car to turn green.

Best Budget: Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Courtesy of Amazon

Orville Redenbacher Popcorn might remind you of the movies, but we’re not talking about popcorn drenched in butter and salt. Plain popcorn is extremely nutritious—three cups popped has 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. And by skipping the butter, you nix the artery-clogging saturated fat. Yes, that’s important to watch out for, even in kids, as it continues to add up over the lifespan.

These plain kernels cost much less per ounce than premade bagged popcorn. The kernels require a little more work but not too much! You can pop on the stove or put about ¼ cup kernels in a paper bag, fold over the top, and microwave until there are a few seconds between pops. Sprinkle with a little salt and drizzle some oil for flavor, if desired.

Best Cracker: Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Crackers

Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers, Farmhouse Cheddar

Courtesy of Amazon

You can feel good about giving your kids these cheesy crackers—and having some yourself too! That’s because Simple Mills uses organic cheddar cheese and ingredients like paprika for color and rosemary extract for freshness. The first ingredient in these Simple Mills Farmhouse Cheddar Crackers is a blend of almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds, which provide healthy omega-3 fatty acids and 3 grams of protein per serving.

In case there are allergies in the family, these crackers are corn-free and grain-free (but note they do contain almonds). Add to your child’s lunch or make a snack platter with hummus and vegetables for a satisfying, nutrient-dense snack.

Best Dried Fruit: Signature’s Dried Plums

 Kirkland Signatures Dried Plums

Courtesy of Amazon

Dried plums, also called prunes, are well-known for their constipation-fighting powers. That’s because they’re full of fiber: three grams in five prunes to be exact. And while most dried fruits have more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, dried plums are the best in the category because they only have 15 grams per serving and it’s all naturally occurring from the fruit with no added sugar.

Whole fruit is better than dried fruit nutrition-wise, but dried fruit travels better. Dried plums are the perfect sweet treat for your kids, whether they are constipated or not. They also provide potassium, vitamin A, iron, and calcium. Stick to one serving to avoid more frequent bathroom trips.

Best Dried Fruit, Runner-Up: Peeled Snacks Organic Dried Mango

Peeled Snacks Organic Dried Fruit, Mango

Courtesy of Amazon

It was hard to pick just one dried fruit, so we chose a runner-up. Peeled Snacks Organic Dried Mango is an excellent snack because it doesn’t have any added sugar and contains only one ingredient: organic mangos. Always check the ingredients list on dried fruits because many contain added sugar.

Half a cup of these chewy, sweet mangos has 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 21 grams of sugar, and 130 calories. They’re also rich in iron, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. The downside is that you may have some sticky fingers, and it can be difficult for toddlers to chew. But pack some wipes and supervise snack time—as you always should—and everyone will be happy.

Best Squeeze Pack: Happy Tot Super Foods

Many toddler parents have a love/hate relationship with squeeze pouches. They are extremely convenient, but do they actually contain any nutrients or are they straight sugar? Well, it depends on the brand. Happy Tot Super Foods is our top pick because one pouch contains only 12 grams of sugar, all naturally occurring from apples, spinach, peas, and broccoli. They also contain chia seeds, which provide 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein per pouch, along with heart-healthy omega-3s.

This Super Foods/Super Chia pouch is also high in iron, magnesium, and folate, minerals that are crucial for every energy process in the body. So yes, these Happy Tot pouches do contain nutrients, and you already know your kiddo will give them a ten out of ten for taste.

Best Nut Butter Pouch: Wild Friends Classic Creamy Almond Butter

If you want a squeeze pouch without all the sugar, opt for a pouch of nut butter instead. Wild Friends Classic Creamy Almond Butter is an excellent choice with only 2 grams of sugar per pouch. Plus, it only has two ingredients: roasted almonds and sea salt. Although there are 17 grams of total fat per pouch, most of it comes from the monounsaturated fat in almonds. Monounsaturated fat is good for the heart and reduces inflammation in the body.

Your kids can squeeze these right into their mouths or bring along some portable veggies like carrots, celery, or cucumber for the perfect balanced snack of protein, fiber, and healthy fat.

Best Bar: RX Kids Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar

RXBAR Kids Protein Snack Bar, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

Courtesy of Amazon

If your kid is always stealing bites of your bars, look no further. You can now buy them their own bars, and you might find that you are the one now sneaking bites. You can trust RX Kids, the maker of RXBAR, to deliver quality ingredients and nutrients to your kiddos without any junk.

The peanut butter chocolate chip flavor is a family favorite with whole food ingredients like dates, egg whites, peanuts, coconut oil, and sea salt. One bar has 130 calories, 4 grams of total fat, 2 grams of fiber, zero grams of added sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Pro tip: Adults can eat the kid bars too, and they are lower in calories than the adult-sized bars. The downside of these bars is that they stick in your teeth, and they are not allergy-friendly.

Best Yogurt: Siggi’s Strawberry Low-Fat Yogurt Tubes

Siggi's Strawberry Low-Fat Squeezable Tubes

Courtesy of Instacart

There are a lot of “kid yogurts” in the yogurt aisle, but when you flip them over to check out the nutrition facts, most are loaded with added sugar. Plain yogurt contains natural sugar from lactose, which isn’t an issue unless your kid has lactose intolerance. However, added sugar can cause an array of health issues, from cavities to diabetes to heart disease, so less is better.

You can feel good about buying Siggi’s yogurt because even their flavored yogurts are some of the lowest in added sugar—without containing artificial sweeteners. (Note: Some yogurts don’t have a lot of added sugar but still taste sweet due to the addition of artificial sweeteners like sucralose, stevia, or monk fruit, so always check the ingredient list).

Your kids will love these Siggi’s Strawberry Yogurt Tubes because they can slurp straight out of the pouch. And you won’t have to pack a spoon that will end up covered in crusty yogurt, a win-win! One tube has 60 calories and only 6 grams of sugar, with 5 grams of protein and a healthy dose of calcium for those growing bones.

Best Puffs: Hippeas Vegan White Cheddar Organic Chickpea Puffs

HIPPEAS Organic Chickpea Puffs, Vegan White Cheddar

Courtesy of Amazon

No need to feel guilty snagging the leftover puffs on your kid’s plate (if there are any) when you switch to Hippeas Chickpea Puffs. Compared to other puffs that are mostly “empty” calories, Hippeas have 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving.

You can buy a big bag for the house or single-serve bags, which are perfect for on-the-go or to pack in lunches. The white cheddar flavor is ironically vegan, as well as kosher, gluten-free, organic, and non-GMO. They come in other flavors and have chips too.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a salty, crunchy snack for your kids, Harvest Snap Peas win hands-down. It’s like your kids are eating peas with salt, and they get some protein and fiber, which most crisps and chips lack. If opting for a sweet snack, go for Siggi’s Strawberry Low-Fat Yogurt Tubes, which provides sweetness as well as protein and calcium, two crucial nutrients for growing kids.

What to Look for in Healthy Snacks for Kids

Ingredients:

First up, check the ingredients list. Is it a mile long or on the shorter side? Look for a shorter ingredient list with mostly whole foods ingredients. For example, “mangos,” “popcorn,” “seeds,” or “almonds.” Steer clear of artificial additives like sweeteners, colors, flavors, or dyes, which contain zero nutrients and could have adverse health outcomes for kids.

Sugar:

The American Heart Association recommends that kids ages 2 to 18 eat less than 25 grams of added sugar per day. That’s just 6 teaspoons and, by the way, is the same recommendation for adult women. Beware of code names for sugar on the ingredients list. For example, anything with “syrup,” is sugar, such as “brown rice syrup” or “cane syrup.” And although honey and maple syrup are naturally occurring sources of sugar, they are still sugar.

To be certain how much added sugar is in a product, check the nutrition label. As of 2021, there is now a line on the label for added sugar, which makes it easier to figure out how much sugar is added in a product versus naturally occurring. 

Nutrients:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids’ snacks are less than 200 calories, less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, and are low in fat and sugar. If snacks do have fat, look for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy and keep saturated and trans fats low.

Look for snacks with protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals too. Protein is the building block of all the cells in the body and is digested slowly, which helps keep your kids full. Fiber keeps things moving along in the digestive tract, preventing constipation and improving the gut microbiome. Calcium and vitamin D are important for growing bones.

FAQs

Why are healthy snacks important for kids? 

Children’s bodies are still developing, so it’s important they get adequate nutrients, especially protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron. It’s also important for kids to have healthy snacks that are not too high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories, as obesity is on the rise amongst children and can lead to adverse health conditions like diabetes and asthma.

When should I give my child a snack? 

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that kids eat three meals and one to two snacks per day, depending on their age. They also advise giving snacks a few hours after one meal and one to two hours before the next meal. Structure is important for kids’ meals and snacks. Avoid letting kids graze and snack whenever they want. One of the main reasons kids will refuse food at meals is because they snacked too much during the day.

How do I make a healthy snack for kids?

Place healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables at eye level in the refrigerator and on the table. Pair produce with protein and healthy fats to keep kids full. For example, nuts and nut butters provide healthy fat and protein while apples or whole-grain crackers have fiber.  

What Experts Say

“I recommend giving priority to snacks that are made from whole food ingredients and contain few unnecessary additives so that snacks are contributing important nutrients to your kids' diets, just like meals. Also, choose snacks that offer some protein, fiber, and healthy fats (or at least 2 of the 3), while limiting added sugar. Snacks with these nutrients will keep your kids satisfied for longer, so they won't be asking you for another snack every hour.”—Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RD

Why Trust Verywell Family?

As a Registered Dietitian and toddler mom, you can trust Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, to recommend the healthiest snacks on the market to you. These are the same snacks she recommends to her clients and feeds her own kids.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sugar Recommendation Healthy Kids and Teens Infographic. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-recommendation-healthy-kids-and-teens-infographic.

  2. Korioth T. AAP News. The Official Newsmagazine of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Published September 2014.

  3. Shield JE. When Should My Kids Snack? EatRight Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published March 4, 2019. Reviewed January 2021.