Your pregnancy and baby guide

Toddler food: common questions

What are healthy snacks for toddlers?

You could try:

  • raw vegetable sticks, such as cucumber and carrots
  • a plain yoghurt with a sliced banana in it
  • a slice of toast with cheese spread, hummus or a slice of ham
  • some crackers, breadsticks or unsalted rice cakes with cheese
  • a bowl of cereal with milk
  • a piece of fruit

What can I pack in my toddler's lunchbox when they go to nursery?

Good sandwich fillings are canned tuna or salmon, hummus, hard or cream cheese, ham or peanut butter (see advice on peanut allergy).

You could add a few vegetable sticks, such as carrots, peppers or cucumber, to munch on and a container of bite-sized fruit – for example, a peeled satsuma or washed seedless grapes. A box of raisins is fine if eaten at lunchtime.

Examples of healthier sweet options include a yoghurt, fromage frais, a scone or a currant bun. If you include a fromage frais or yoghurt, don’t forget a spoon. A piece of kitchen towel is also useful.

If lunchboxes aren't kept in the fridge at nursery, use an insulated box with an ice pack to keep food safe and cool. You can give milk, water or well-diluted fruit juice in a leak-proof beaker.

Read more about healthy lunchboxes.

I've heard that high-fibre foods aren't suitable for toddlers. Why?

Fibre is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. But foods that contain a lot of fibre (such as wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice and wholegrain breakfast cereals) can fill up small tummies, leaving little room for other foods. This means your toddler can feel full before they've taken in the calories they need.

It's good for your toddler to try different kinds of starchy foods, but don't give only wholegrain foods before your child is five years old.

My child will only drink sugary drinks. What can I do?

Drinking sugary drinks increases the chance of tooth decay. If your toddler will only drink sugary drinks, it can take a while to break the habit.

Start to dilute the drinks with water, increasing the amount of water gradually over time, so the change isn't too noticeable to them. Water and full-fat cows' milk are the best drinks for toddlers.

See drinks and cups for children for a list of other healthier drinks.

Am I entitled to any benefits to help me buy healthy food for my child?

If you have children under 4, you're pregnant and on benefits, or you're pregnant and under 18, you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers.

For more information, visit the Healthy Start website, where you can find out if you qualify for vouchers. If so, you can apply online for Healthy Start vouchers, or get an application form from your GP surgery, midwife or health visitor. You can also call 0845 607 6823 if you would like one sent to you in the post.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 02/09/2015
Next review due: 02/09/2018