National Nutrition Month is here again! Last year I was impatiently waiting to deliver Cooper (and just find out that he was a boy) who has flipped my world upside down in the best ways possible. While my philosophies around nutrition haven’t changed in the past year, the way I feed myself and my family has. It’s a busy life as a working mom and convenience has become more important than ever in our household. I thought it would be helpful to many of you to share my top convenience foods for babies and toddlers based on my experiences with Cooper.
I love prepping food in advance and handing the little man fresh fruit and nut or seed butter, or some plain yogurt with fruit, or hard boiled eggs and sweet potato, I don’t always have all of that stuff handy. Whether I need to pack Cooper snacks for daycare, need something while we’re in the car or traveling, or I just want to give him something easy at home, I’m lucky the options here exist. In our busy lives, there is no perfect diet no matter your age. Do your best and stock your pantry with items both your little one and you can enjoy!
I’ve categorized them by bars/bites, bagged snacks and yogurt/pouches. I decide on what to purchase for my baby boy based on the ingredients being whole food – products that if I had the time, skill and equipment, I could make in my own kitchen. I also keep his diet as low in added sugar and sodium as possible, so when I see cane sugar or lots of sodium in a yogurt product, pouch, or bar, it goes back on the shelf. I’m flexible and will let him have a bite of my maple sweetened oatmeal and don’t make a big deal of ingredients in foods at restaurants, but I know that the flavors he eats now can impact his taste preferences right away and later in life, too.
While wheat pretzels and rice cakes will also do, they aren’t providing much in terms of nutrients, and pretzels usually have excess salt for their little bodies. We’ve all fallen in love with the three bagged products you see in the picture here!
Peas Please by Peeled Snacks b
These snacks are a favorite cause they have actual flavor, versus some other pea puffs, without any fake ingredients. They also have 5 grams of protein per serving. While almost 1 year old Cooper doesn’t eat a full serving yet, the couple of grams he gets are great to provide him with this important structural nutrient for growth.
Paleo Puffs by Lesser Evil
I don’t think any kids need to be Paleo (Cooper eats bread, peanuts, beans, fruit etc) or need to hear about any sort of diet EVER. I do though like the ingredients in here and the delicious flavor. While not rich in protein, they have some unique starches from cassava to promote some variety in his diet. Pair with a hard boiled egg if you’re home or can find one on the go.
There are a few versions of peanut butter puffs, but we can easily find this one at Whole Foods where we shop often. I know trader Joe’s has a similar product many friends of mine buy, too. These are great for continued exposure to the peanut allergen (associated with lower risk of developing an allergy later), plus they provide a bit of protein and fiber. Being corn based, they give him some variety in grains since I don’t make corn or polenta often.
Bars and Bites
Some of the food in this picture clearly isn’t packaged. It IS quick, easy and freezable though. Especially those banana PB balls in the upper left hand corner. I never would have thought to give Cooper an energy ball like this if he didn’t just grab one of the tart cherry energy bites out of my hand and eat the whole thing. In either of these recipes, eliminate the honey and salt, or, use 1/4 the amount of sweetener. If you’re making them for a baby under 1, swap out the honey for maple syrup.
These are bars I used to eat a lot more of before other whole food bars like KIND and RxBar became more available. I love the latter for their texture and the RxBars for the protein content, but in terms of texture, baby can’t have either! Larabars are really just blended unsweetened dried fruit and nuts. No salt either! I just make sure to grab ones without chocolate which does add some added sugar, but more importantly gives the kids caffeine which my baby who hates sleep needs NONE of!
KIND Pressed Bars
These are just dehydrated fruit with chia seeds! The texture of the mango seems to be best for smaller babies, but since Cooper has teeth he can take down the other flavors now, too, which are a tiny bit more dense. The chia seeds add a touch more fiber, tiny bit of protein, healthy fat and nutrients.
Yogurt and Pouches
With dairy problems myself ( = asthma attacks) I know that Cooper is at a higher risk of allergy, too. So, like with eggs, peanuts and nuts, we have introduced him to dairy yogurt early. I like to give him Maple Hill Creamery’s grassfed whole milk plain yogurt as a dairy yogurt for him as well as Kitehill Almond style Greek and Forager cashew-style plain. He likes to eat them, too! I was disappointed when I bought Stonyfield baby and brought it home to find the added cane sugar. The pureed fruit should be enough for an infant in my opinion!
When it comes to pouches, they certainly are a puree, which many people do not feed their kids when following baby led weaning. In my eyes, all food textures matter and if I can eat applesauce as an adult, why can’t he have a puree of fruits and veggies once in a while? I love the Once Upon a Farm Smoothies because they have a bit more nutrition when it comes to fiber and protein and they are fantastic when we are traveling or on the go. He can self-feed by holding the pouch and he stops eating when he is full. As long as you keep them at fridge temp, they’re good for 24 hours after you open them, so they can finish the rest at a later meal or snack.
Plum Organics brand is one he’s liked a lot, too, but I’ll be honest that he spits the Sprout brand ones right back out. Not sure what it is! Because of the environmental footprint, we’ve cut down on pouches. Once Upon a Farm can be recycled through Teracycle, but it’s honestly hard to find those recycling centers. When I make him smoothies, I sometimes pour the rest into these reusable pouches from WeeSprout. They can go right into the dishwasher to be cleaned, too!