Finger Food for Toddlers: 11 Ideas for Breakfast and Snacks


Kara, here.  After last week’s series on Homemade Baby Food 101 by Christen, we had a few readers asking about the next step and feeding toddlers.  So, I decided to re-run Megan’s series on Toddler Finger Foods, which originally ran August 2009.  Don’t miss the great suggestions in the comments – and feel free to leave your own thoughts, too.  We’d love to hear what simple breakfasts and snacks are a hit with the toddlers at your house!

Last week’s post on toddler mealtimes elicited some great discussion in the comments.  Several of you asked for ideas on finger foods for your toddlers.  I decided to create a two-part series with some ideas that have worked well in our family, and I hope others will share their toddler favorites as well!

For today, let’s focus on breakfasts and snack time.

Breakfast Ideas for Toddlers

Fresh Fruit

I liked to roll pieces of fruit in dry baby cereal.  This makes it easier for little fingers to successfully pick up the fruit and get it into those sweet little mouths.

Scrambled Eggs

Break up the scrambled eggs into little bite-sized pieces.  I often top scrambled eggs with a little shredded cheese for an extra calcium boost.

Cinnamon Toast Strips

My kids are more open to whole wheat bread when I’ve sweetened the deal with some cinnamon sugar.


I confess: we do a lot of store-bought freezer waffles around here.  I know waffles are easy to make from scratch, but this is one of just a few convenience food luxuries I indulge in.  We toast ours under the broiler, and they are ready in no time.


These are so fun to make with older children and are always a big hit in our house.  Blueberry is the muffin of choice around here.  My biggest challenge is not eating the entire pan myself!

Snack Ideas for Toddlers

Bread Sticks

I personally like to use the Hillbilly Housewife recipe for buttery bread sticks, but recipes for this simple snack abound.  Toddlers love to gnaw on food – just make sure to keep a close eye on little ones who might gnaw off more than they can chew.

Graham Crackers and Cream Cheese

This is an all-time favorite in our home.  The kids like the sweet crunch of the crackers, and the cream cheese offers a little extra protein and calcium.

Steamed Vegetables

Pick up whatever is in season and soften it for little ones by steaming it for a few minutes.

Cheese Toast

Once again, a nice way to combine calcium and protein with the carbohydrates that seem to be a universal preference of toddlers.  I lightly butter a piece of bread, sprinkle with shredded cheddar, and pop it under the broiler for a minute or so.  Slice into strips and serve.

Sweet Potato Fries

Our family loves sweet potatoes, and when each of my girls had moved beyond pureed sweet potatoes, they loved sweet potato fries.  I often serve these with dinner, making sure to make extra to keep in the refrigerator as a snack.


Yes!  Nori – the dried sea vegetable you’ve probably experienced when eating sushi.  I got the idea to serve nori as a snack from Cynthia Lair’s Feeding the Whole Family.  Nori comes in paper-like sheets that nearly dissolve in the mouth – perfect for toddlers!  I use kitchen shears to cut it into fun shapes.  Nori is full of vitamins A, B1 and B2, C and iron.

Sometimes it just helps to hear what others are serving in their homes to get us out of our food ruts.  Next time, I’ll share some suggestions for toddler-friendly lunches and dinners!

Alright, let’s hear from you! What are some favorite finger foods served for breakfast and snacks in your home?

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  1. I love the idea of rolling fruit in cereal to make it easier to pick up – I’ve seen my three sliding peaches around in a bowl for so long trying to get a good grasp!

    We love rice cakes and popcorn for snacks. Also the typical oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast….


    • @steadymom, YES! Rice cakes! I totally forgot about those, but they were/are a HUGE favorite for my new eaters. And yep, those peaches are particularly tricky, aren’t they?

  2. Our kids have always loved fruits. I never thought to roll them in cereal. Great idea! Graham crackers and peanut butter are a favorite at our house. Yogurt is in plenty supply too.

    • @Stacie, we definitely love our yogurt around here, too. In fact, my girls like to dip graham crackers into the yogurt. It’s pretty good!

  3. NORI? Megan, you sly dog, you. I might have to check that out! These are all great suggestions. Thanks for this series!

  4. Both my girls love black beans. Individual beans make great finger food. Also high on the love list: anything that fits over a fingernail – raspberries, green or black olives, rigatoni, etc. Whenever they have friends over I always make an appetizer snack tray just for little ones composed exclusively of finger foods. I line the foods up by color in stripes on a tray and leave it on the coffee table where they can reach while they play. I usually do: kidney beans, cubes of cheddar cheese (white and orange), cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, edamame or fresh peas if I have them, black olives. Actually, that trick works for lots of foods – if I line it up like a rainbow or some other image they’re much more likely to try new foods.

  5. I think these are great snack ideas for mommy, too! The list is making me hungry:)

    Sometimes I coat slippery fruit in the ground-up oatmeal I use to make the baby’s cereal. All of my kids love it. And we eat sweet potato fries often, but I have to admit I’ve never perfected them. Is there a trick? How do you refrigerate them without them getting soggy?

    • @Elizabeth, honestly, I don’t know that there is any real trick to great sweet potato fries. I do bake mine until they are pretty crisp on the oven (and I cut them up fairly thin, too) so that when they do get a tad soggy in the fridge, they aren’t too bad. We love sweet potatoes so much that I don’t think any of us (especially me!) will let a little sogginess stop us from eating them. I like to toss them with olive oil, salt, and a little chili powder before I make them. Sweet and spicy and delish!

      • Hi Elizabeth –

        The same trick you use for coating slippery food – you can also use on your sweet potatoes before baking them in the oven! The baby cereal provides a thin coating that lends a soft “crunch”. Also, I have found that a higher oven tempurature provides a crispier sweet potato. Although, I’ve ended up burning my fair share, so you have to watch the oven closely. ;)

        Great post, Megan!!

  6. I make yogurt pops in fancy silicone ice cube trays (ice cubes on swizzle sticks). We often have popcorn for our afternoon snack, and eat a lot of fruit. We have a lot more variety in our meals than we do in our snacks and I’d like to work on that.

  7. Ok, I am totally getting some nori. I was just talking about how I would pay big bucks to whoever invents edible paper. I will also be rolling fruit in baby cereal. We just started giving my daughter little pieces of melon to try, and she loves them once she gets them in her mouth–but that’s rare. Thanks for the great ideas, Megan!

    • @Meghan, you are so welcome. Sometimes it just helps to hear what works for others – ESPECIALLY when it comes to feeding these little ones!

  8. we do storebought waffles for convenience as well. i’m definitely going to try the nori. my husband and i have mused often that our boys have tried, and in most cases eat, a lot more diverse food than we’d had even as young adults. we do chickpeas here as well (i like to spice them w/ a little curry or cayenne/lime and pop them in the oven for a crunchy treat). avocados are probably the #2 fave food in the house, and when they’re not too expensive we offer that often. cottage cheese is a staple for breakfast for them as well.
    i love the rainbow idea.. so going to try that sometime!!

    • @misty, I cannot even believe how expensive avocados are here. I got so used to fifty cents each when we lived in South Texas! They stay well over a dollar here. I still splurge on them, though – we LOVE our avocados. And I totally forgot about chickpeas – fantastic toddler snack!

  9. just remembered this was about finger foods, so ignore my cottage cheese comment! lol

  10. This summer I’ve been caring for my neighbours’ two lovely kids (aged 2 and 5) as well as my own 20 month old daughter. The big hits at snack time have been
    wholewheat flour tortillas cut into triangles and oven baked- dipped in hummus,
    bite sized chunks of avocado, cheese, and grape tomatoes,
    we make a big fruit smoothie and drink that then freeze whats left into popsicles, also applesauce and yoghurt layered popsicles are yummy!
    I cant wait to get some nori to try – thanks for the great ideas!

  11. For older toddlers, I make a dip out of peanut butter, yogurt and honey (no real measurements, just mix them together until you get the right consistency for easy dipping and the level of sweetness you like). My kids like to dip apple slices or pretzals in it. Sometimes they even eat just the dip with a spoon. And this isn’t something you can make, but my toddler loves Snap Pea Crisps. He’s not a big veggie eater, so these are a decent substitute.

    • @Angie, okay, I am totally trying that dip idea for an afterschool snack today. Sounds yummy and I would not have thought to mix those. Thank you!

  12. I think I have been extraordinarily blessed with a really good eater, and didn’t know how lucky I was! My daughter is 25 months but we have never really given her her own special foods – she eats what we eat, all the time. Snacks we like are cheese, fruit, crackers, yogurt, raisins, carrot sticks dipped in hummus, chips and guacamole, nuts, and cookies. I bake healthy cookies from whole wheat pastry flour and sweetened with agave or honey. For breakfast, we either eat eggs and toast or oatmeal pretty much everyday. It’s cheap and healthy. I add some honey and cinnamon to her oatmeal. I don’t want to prepare separate meals for her so I don’t – since she’s not used to being offered her own special foods, she has accepted that she eats what we eat.

    We also love sweet potato fries! :)

  13. Sorry, I just remembered that this was supposed to be about finger foods! Obviously yogurt and oatmeal wouldn’t qualify. :)

  14. Oh, thank you! I love to read other people’s ideas to freshen up our own meals/snacks!

    And too funny about the waffles…we cook them under the broiler too, and I said almost the exact same thing about knowing I could make them cheaper but choosing to buy them anyway on my personal blog last week! We serve ours with yogurt instead of butter and fresh fruit instead of syrup.

  15. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  16. I’m so glad you mentioned nori! My little one loves nori and can shovel packages away! She also loves cheese in any form. The Babybel cheeses in the red wax grabs her attention and she eating her own tiny wheel of cheese. I’ve got to try more waffles and breadsticks.

  17. My 3 yo LOVES nori. Luckily we have a great Korean market near us. I buy several packages at a time. Sometimes she’ll eat them plain and sometimes she asks me to put rice in them and roll them up, sort of like mini-sushi rolls.

  18. we are just starting fingerfoods, so this are all great ideas. i will be definately rolling my slippery fruit bits today. my babe loves slightly steamed brocolli for a snack (i’m working on eating her dad to stop wrinkling his nose and pulling faces!!). thanks for the breadsticks link

    • @claire, I am always having to get after my husband to not make bad faces to broccoli! Thankfully, both of my girls are big fans of their “green trees.”

  19. Waffles spread with peanut butter cut in strips
    a mix of raisins and Cheerios (good for bkfst on the go)
    toasted English muffins strips dipped in yogurt

    snacks; sometimes I’ll fill a small wafer ice cream cone with trail mix (my son loves that he can eat the container!

  20. We like crackers and hummus, fruit in yogurt, peanut butter on toast..mmmmm

  21. Just added nori to my market list. I love the idea of adding a little rice as well. Thanks.

  22. I also do cheese toast…with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar on top, broiled and then cut into strips. Yum.

  23. Deborah Thompson-Rabbon says:

    a not so quick snack, but yummy treat is brown rice pudding. while cooking rice use extra liquid to make thicker. add raisins, pumpkin seeds, rice milk, and apples. season with cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, anise, etc…stir in a little coconut oil, honey or agave nectar, rice milk at the end. maybe some bananas or apple butter…be creative.

  24. I am very lucky in that both of my boys LOVE fruit. They could eat it all day long if I let them. This is a good list, I think I will have to try a few of these out.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..The Health Benefits of Calcium Orotate =-.

  25. My kidlet likes dried fruits. I’ve een meaning to try my own fruit leather. On waffles we put applesauce or I pop fresh/frozen fruit in the blender and smear thy on instead of jams.
    She also loves snapea crisps and edamame beans (out of the pod of course).
    .-= Mammapie´s last blog ..Petite Picasso =-.

  26. This is such a great idea. I am often times not home in time for her dinner time (6PM) and my husband is always scrambling to make her something she’ll eat for dinner. I’ll have to print this out and look forward to the 2nd part as well.

    Our daughter loves steamed broccoli florets.

    Thanks again.

  27. Great ideas! When they get better (or are ready to practice) their pincher grasp, things like peas, blueberries and edamame are fun. If they can have peanuts, peanut butter pretzels are a great source of protein. When ours were ready to start using a spoon, we thickened apple sauce with oatmeal or toddler cereal so that it sticks to the spoon better.

    It’s super easy to chop up almost anything for a fun snack at this age. Almost easier than when they get older & aren’t as impressed with chasing peas around a high chair tray!
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Soda, Sugar and Our Nation’s Health =-.

  28. This post could not have come at a better time. Just this morning I felt like we’ve ran out of breakfast and snack (for school) ideas. Because life is so busy in the morning (with 4 kids all different ages), it is hard to be creative and come up with new breakfast ideas. Lately, I’ve been feeling bad about the fact that I keep offering waffles or cereal. I need to get back to boiled eggs, cheese and fruits.

    I’m downloading this list!

    Angelica @Modern Familia
    .-= Angelica Perez´s last blog ..Wise Latinas: Mentoring, Inspiring and Empowering Other Latinas (Video) =-.

  29. Michelle says:

    Our waffle consumption was out of control, so I just bought a waffle iron that will crank out six at a time (saving our other heart-shaped maker for weekends) and twice a month I am making a master batch to freeze. It doesn’t take that long, I control the ingredients and I just don’t feel bad falling back on waffles if that is what everyone is groaning for! I was so creative with my first child – I think it was in a Dr. Sears book that I read to put nibbles in an ice cube tray for toddlers – worked like a charm! I need to go back to that this summer and start making sampler trays from some of these great ideas.

  30. We’re working on patience with our 2 year old, finger foods that are super quick to make always go down well in our house. We always have nori on hand too, the kiddo loves the stuff although we do get strange looks when he eats it when we’re out somewhere!
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti =-.

  31. My 11-month-old loves tofu. I cut up the extra-firm kind into little cubes and she pops them right in. Great source of protein! I like the nori idea…I will get some of that.

  32. One of my kids, as a toddler, liked frozen peas! They are perfect for those cute little chubby fingers!

  33. So many great ideas I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been covered here. Just wanted to add however, that much of this is just as appropriate for babies as it is for toddlers. Two of my babies have been finger fooders right from the start because they wouldn’t eat anything off a spoon. So I’ve just gone with it and given them whatever we are eating, adjusting for choking of course. But its amazing what they can manage. My bubs at the moment is a champion at spitting out things she can’t chew propperly. I stick by to help out of course but have never had to help much.
    Thanks everyone. Considering writing all this down somewhere because I know I’ll never remember where it was I saw that great snack idea I wanted to try. Any chance you can make a book for us????
    .-= bonnie´s last blog favourite gadget =-.

  34. We do tofu as well, and you can toss tofu sticks or cubes in bread crumbs, baby cereal, or wheat germ with whatever seasoning you want and bake them a little to make them more palatable –basically shake and bake but healthy

    Tiny fish cakes are a huge hit around here. Both salmon ones and haddock and potato and we all love them.

    Sweet potato fries always get eaten, even on the really picky days, so I’ve been thinking of trying other root veg fries like beets and parsnips.

  35. It took us a long time to find healthy snacks for our toddler that were convenient, natural, and affordable. I have compiled a collection of our favorites at Come check it out and try some of these items in your household – nothing beats the feeling of knowing you are feeding your child nutritious snacks and foods!

  36. interesting post. Indulging toddlers into fruits, veggies in their daily meals is a great way of teaching a healthy lifestyle.

  37. My youngest two love frozen peas, hummus, avocado, pesto on Naan bread (warmed up in the oven for 5 min. and cut into bite-size pieces) and smoothies made with a blend of spinach/kale, bananas, blueberries, and orange juice. Best part is it’s food I don’t mind eating with them.

  38. I make simple flapjack for my kids using syrup, butter and porridge oats and they love it and it’s a greta snack for when we are out and about and good activity to make.

    •4 ½ oz/ 6 tbsp Golden Syrup or corn syrup
    •2 sticks/200g butter
    •12 oz/330g porridge oats

    Probably takes about 5-10 mins for me to make and then 25mins to bake at 350°F/180°C/Gas 4.
    James´s latest post: booster seats

  39. Love the ideas, even if just for the chance to try something new.
    I consider myself lucky that my kids seem to eat absolutely anything…. and everything, but i suppose that’s a minor issue.

    I will certainly be trying some of these ideas out, if only because I think they sound good :D
    Jo´s latest post: Low Fat Recipes

  40. My daughter loves melba toast dipped in a pot of honey and my son loves chocolate covered raisens. The dried tropical fruit mix is also a winner for both of mine we always carry a bag in the pushchair.
    James´s latest post: booster seats

  41. Bread sticks are also a good one that I agree with, sorry but I have loads of ideas!
    James´s latest post: double buggies

  42. I think maybe I should try that sweet potato fries thing :). Also I love the kiwi picture, I remember I used to love kiwi when I was a young kid, I did not know what it was but I remember I used to about it a lot at one point or something.
    Jett´s latest post: Cool Names

  43. I think maybe I should try that sweet potato fries thing :). Also I love the kiwi picture, I remember I used to love kiwi when I was a young kid, I did not know what it was but I remember I used to talk about it a lot at one point or something.
    Jett´s latest post: Cool Names

  44. I was wondering what cheese do you recommend for your quesadillas… Whenever I try to melt cheese it just isn’t as good as the restaurants , Thanks for the ideas. My 12 month old is refusing baby jar food so it’s time to be creative.

  45. Oh my goodness!! thank you so so so much for these ideas. I am going out to the grocery store right this second!

  46. Barilla now makes piccolini pasta made with a full serving of veggies like tomato and carrot and spinach/zucchini. They are mini bowties & wheels and wonderful finger foods (or side dish) with a little olive or canola oil & grated parm, romano or asiago cheese.

    Homemade waffles get a boost by adding quick cooking oats (I also add pumpkin purée & pumpkin pie spice or sweet potato/peach with cinnamon & vanilla in the mix & freeze them)

  47. Love the pumpkin puree idea in waffle batter! I’m always looking for new ideas on what to feed my 12 month old. She still eats puree fruits and veggies, but I really want to get more creative with her snacks and morning/evening meals! I really enjoy reading all your ideas on what works! Keep em’ coming!

  48. Ladies! Dates are the best snacks ever.

  49. Dates are sex BOOSTERS . cu cu cu…

  50. Nikki i love to eat chicken tikki


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