Mr. Monkey is 19 months old and has 6 teeth. SIX.
What do you feed a child that wants what everyone else is having but can’t chew it all?! Especially when what we’re having for snacks is stuff like raw veggies, dehydrated fruits and meats, and nuts and seeds?
Now I know that gums are hard enough for kids to be able to mash up most foods, but MM’s front teeth are sharp enough to get big chunks off of things like carrot sticks, and, let’s face it, some things are just too tough to eat without molars.
Through the interwebs (read: Pinterest) and our family’s experience I’ve come up with a handy-dandy list; all of these are Cabin Kid approved.
Raisins/Dried fruit– Give them a mini-box of raisins and you’ve given them a snack AND a task. Win-win.
Avocados– My boys go nutso over this mushy, green, healthy fat and nutrient packed food (Why do we give our kids fat, you ask? Check out some of the reasons here and here)
Soft fruits– Melons, grapes, berries, etc. If you get canned fruit (the Cabin Kids love mandarin oranges) check to make sure it’s canned in fruit juice, not syrup.
Tomatoes– Slices or wedges, if your kids can handle nightshades, are great for little fingers. Halved cherry or grape tomatoes are great, too.
Apple/Pear slices– Without the skin; MM just spits it out and leaves it in random corners anyway. Pair them with:
Nut butters*– Almond butter is a favorite in our house, but I know lots of people love Sunflower seed butter, too; or
Cheese– We’re just venturing away from processed string cheese and into the world of raw dairy. I’ve found an amazing medium cheddar that is soft and Oh-so tasty from a local farm at our health food store.
Olives– Unfortunately, my kids only like black olives thus far. But, it’s another plant based fat that my kids go gaga over. Plus, see if they can get an olive on each finger and, TA-DA, another task!
Bananas– The Cabin Kids would eat bananas all day long if I let them. Whole, sliced with almond butter, dehydrated, doesn’t matter. Say banana and they go ape-shit (see what I did there? *snort*). I know bananas should be with the ‘Soft fruit,’ but my kids love them so much, in so many ways, that I thought they deserved their own spot.
Fruit leathers– Pour some unsweetened applesauce on a dehydrator tray, let it run for 12 hours or so and, VOILA, you have fruit leather. CB can chew it, while MM enjoys sucking on it. As his saliva works its magic, the fruit is slightly rehydrated and easier for him to eat. There are a few good brands out there without added sugars and preservatives but I really encourage you to try your own. We have lots of frozen plum puree that we’ve added in several times, and berries would make an awesome addition, too.
Larabars– Again, I encourage you to make your own. It’s super easy (if you have a food processor) and way cheaper than $1 per bar if you have a place you can get almonds, raisins, and dates in bulk. Just use a 1:1:1 ratio on your nuts, dried fruit, and dates, pulse until all crushed/combined, then press into a lined pan and chill, cut, and wrap. The ground nuts are small enough for toothless kiddos to manage easily, and the dried fruits hold it all together.
Fruit and yogurt– Frozen raspberries in a little bowl of yogurt that they can stir on their own is ridiculously exciting. I mean, RIDICULOUSLY. They love watching the yogurt slowly turn pink from the thawing raspberry juice and always exclaim when they get a chunk of cold fruit. If your kids can handle dairy, this is a great snack for a quiet afternoon at home (where you can have a washcloth handy).
Applesauce– Another one you should have a napkin handy for.
Pickles– Crunchy on the outside, but soft enough inside for those gums to get the job done. We prefer baby dills, since they’re little hand friendly and don’t pose as big of a choking hazard.
Uncured deli meats– Roll them up with some cheese, mashed avocado, or a Paleo/Primal friendly tapenade.
Hard boiled eggs– Because, duh. We love eggs. Slice them if you think your little one’s hands may not be able to handle a slippery sphere.
Pepperoni sticks– We have a great uncured brand available locally. I have to snip the tough ends off for the boys and bite MMs to break the casing a bit for him, but they love them. As do Captain and I.
Baked goodies– A quick Google search will reveal loads of recipes for quick and easy Paleo/Primal baked treats. Paleo Parents has a great Anytime Cookie recipe in their book, Eat Like a Dinosaur (which I recommend for any full or partial Paleo family), that you can customize with your kids’ favorite dried fruits and nuts. Just make sure you watch the natural sugars in some of the recipes you may come across. Even though they’re healthier than conventional baked goods, a treat is still a treat and should be given in moderation.
Smoothies– Full fat coconut milk, some nut butter, a piece of fruit, and a handful of spinach. Who doesn’t love a green smoothie?! Customizable with endless possibilities.
Frozen fruit pops– Blend up your favorite fruit combination and freeze it in a popsicle mold. Perfect for a lazy, hot afternoon, or a special picnic on the kitchen floor treat. Plus, no dyes, additives, or surprise ingredients! Add some coconut milk for an extra punch of good fats, or some spinach for a sneaky bit of veggies!
Do your kids have a favorite snack?
*We avoid peanut butter/peanuts mostly because the Cabin Boys are mildly allergic to it. Some great info on why you should consider avoiding peanuts and peanut butter can be found here and here.