So many kids have food allergies these days that it can be difficult to plan healthy and tasty snacks that are also safe. Whether you are making nutritious allergen-free snacks for your own children or providing the daily treat for the entire play group, preparing snacks for toddlers that take potential allergies into account doesn't have to be difficult.
1. Allergen-Free Snacking
For snacks that all toddlers can enjoy, first you have to consider what ingredients to avoid. The most common allergens for kids are milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and seafood, so steering clear of these foods is a good start. If you are preparing snacks for a group of kids, you'll want to check with everyone's parents to make sure that there are no unusual allergies. If most of the children are allergy free, you might be able to prepare snacks that simply eliminate the problem foods without having to restrict the menu to take into account all allergic foods.
2. On-The-Go Options
There are plenty of pre-packaged allergen-free options available, but you'll have to check ingredient lists to make sure that no specific problem foods are hidden inside. Fresh or dried fruit is a good option for many toddlers, since fruit is rarely an allergen. Tortilla chips with mild salsa or bean dip are a big hit with toddlers. Cucumber slices and celery sticks provide extra nutrition for your growing toddler. Pretzels, applesauce and mini rice cakes are other quick options.
3. Homemade Snacks
If you're a whiz in the kitchen, or you'd just rather create a more substantial snack, cooking allergen free is fairly easy when you plan ahead. Create delicious granola bars using oats, raisins, honey and butter that fill up toddlers while remaining allergen-free. Another option is to prepare homemade hummus to serve with crinkle-cut carrot sticks. Baked chicken cubes are a lean, high-protein option that toddlers can dip into dressings or barbecue sauce.
If your child has a food allergy, make sure that you and any caregivers who will be watching your child. If your doctor recommends it, have an epi-pen handy, a powerful shot that stops an allergic reaction from happening if he does happen to eat any of the reaction-producing food. If your child does consume something he's allergic to, call the doctor, even if he doesn't display a reaction right away. Sometimes, it can take a few hours before the body reacts, but the response can quickly turn deadly once it begins.