Nut-Free Snacks Ideas for Daycare and School
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You bought the perfect bento/lunchbox combo and a cute new water bottle that doesn’t leak. (Hallelujah!) You even got a mini insulated food container in case ambition takes over and you want to pack a hot meal for your little one. You feel ready…except for one minor detail: You have no idea what to pack for daycare or preschool snacks! Yes, you want to send healthy snacks that your kiddo will actually eat, but you also need to make sure each snack is easy to open and adheres to your school’s nut-free policy. Overwhelmed? Don’t be! Here, tons of yummy, nut-free snack ideas—plus tips on how to safely shop for nut-free daycare or school snacks.
How to Read a Food Label for Nut Allergies
Good news: There are laws in place to ensure food companies clearly label products that contain common allergens, like peanuts and tree nuts. Now, you just need to know how to read food labels to spot allergies! Since phrases like “peanut-free,” “nut-free,” and “school-safe” are not regulated, reading the entire ingredient list carefully is a must to see if a specific allergen is present.
Here are three ways in which a nut allergen will appear on a food label:
The allergen-in-question may be clearly listed with the ingredients, like “Almonds.”
The ingredients label may read “Contains,” followed by the name of the allergen. For example, “Contains: peanuts.”
When the ingredient is a less common form of the allergen, you may see the ingredient list in parentheses, like “Goober peas (peanut).”
PS: Ingredients change all the time! That’s why it’s smart to check food labels every time you buy the product, no matter how many times you’ve bought it in the past.
What does “may contain nuts” mean?
Some food manufacturers voluntarily slap a precautionary label on foods, like “may contain nuts” or a “produced in a facility with nuts” when there’s a chance nuts may be present. This is common when a manufacturer uses the same equipment to make different snacks. For example, say a factory produces both peanut butter cookies and wheat crackers. Even if the manufacturer cleans the equipment between batches, a small number of peanuts may accidentally become part of the crackers. Of course, since this is a voluntary label, there are plenty of companies who opt not to add this precautionary label. In the end, it’s important to connect with your school, daycare, and physician (if applicable), to see how you should proceed.
What’s a tree nut?
A tree nut, quite simply, is a nut that grows on trees. Peanuts, for example, are not tree nuts. Instead, they grow underground and are actually considered legumes. Kiddos with a nut allergy may be allergic to one or several tree nuts, including:
Chestnut (not water chestnuts)
What are some “hidden” nuts that appear on a food label?
Nut-Free Snack Bar Ideas
Bars are a staple of diaper bags, lunch boxes, backpacks, and more! They’re shelf-stable, convenient, easy to grab and go, and they can often be pretty darn healthy. But finding nut-free bars can be a challenge. Here are several nut-free bars that are great picks for kids:
This Bar Saves Lives
Whether your kiddo likes a chewy bar or a crispy bar, you can find a delicious nut-free treat for them in the This Saves Lives collection of snacks. There are three varieties of their Kids’ Snack Bars (each containing 5 grams of sugar or less), three different Crispy Treats bars, as well as three more flavors of their GranolaPop. Bonus: Every bar bought helps to feed a child in need!
Cascadian Farm Organic Bars
Made in a peanut-free facility, Cascadian Farm Organic Bars (Chocolate Drizzle and Oats & Honey) are guaranteed safe to eat! Look for packages marked with a teal box and the words “Made in a Peanut Free Facility” inside and the Made in a Peanut Free Facility logo in the left corner of the box. (Since not all Cascadian Farm granola bars are made in a peanut-free facility, it’s important to look for the teal box.)
All MadeGood snacks—including their yummy granola bars—are free from the top eight allergens, which means they’re all nut-free and school-safe. Right now, there are four flavors to choose from, like Cookies & Crème and Chocolate Bananas, with some new ones coming soon, such as Birthday Cake Drizzled Granola Bars and Cinnamon Bun Soft Baked Bars. You can buy most of these nut-free snacks as bars or granola clusters, either one is lunchbox-ready.
Don’t Go Nuts Chewy Granola Bars
Don’t Go Nuts is run by parents of a child who has severe peanut and tree nut allergies, so you can bet that all their products are 100% safe and nut-free! They have three varieties of chewy granola bars—chocolate, white chocolate, and blueberry—and each one contains 14 grams of whole grains, zero GMOs, and no gluten.
That’s It Fruit Bars
Run out of apple sauce and berries? You can feel good about tossing a That’s It Fruit Bar in your child’s lunchbox. These nut-free, gluten-free, non-GMO fruit snacks are made from 100% real fruit with no preservatives, no added sugar, and no concentrates. Each bar starts with fiber-rich apples and adds another fruit or spice to the mix to shake up the flavor, like mango, pineapple, fig, or strawberry. (Mini Bars and Crunchables, which are dried fruit medleys, are also nut-free snack options.)
Annie’s Organic Dipped Granola Bars
While not all of Annie’s lip-smacking toddler and big kid snacks come from a nut-free environment, Annie’s Dipped Bars (Chocolate and Caramel) and Annie’s Chocolate Chip Drizzle Bars are always made in a peanut-free facility. That means, peanuts in any form are never allowed in the factory. Before buying, double check that your bars feature a teal box with the words “Made in a Peanut Free Facility” inside—and the Made In a Peanut Free Facility logo.
Enjoy Life Chewy Bars
Nut-free and gluten-free, Enjoy Life Chewy Bars are not only free from all nuts, they don’t contain 12 other common allergens either. Kids can choose between four flavors, including Caramel Apple and Caramel Blondie. While you’re shopping for nut-free snacks and bars, toss some Enjoy Bites in your cart, too. These protein nibbles continue 6 grams of plant-based protein per serving and are totally desert-worthy treats.
Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar
Whole wheat fig bars from Nature’s Bakery are a great nut-free snack for little ones (and their grownups)! Not only do they come in reliably delicious original fig, there are five more fig mashups, like blueberry, raspberry, and peach apricot. Nature’s Bakery also has nut-free Baked-In bars (soft-baked, whole grain snacks made with fruits and veggies) and Oatmeal Crumble Bars (whole grain bars stuffed with real fruit jam).
Made with no preservatives, no artificial flavors, no added sugars, and no nuts, Dino Bars are brimming with good-for-you yumminess. With five flavors to pick from, including pineapple carrot, strawberry, and sweet potato raspberry, you’ll surely land on (at least) one that hits the spot. The coolest part? Each nut-free fruit snack comes wrapped in edible paper! Talk about waste not, want not!
More Nut-Free Snack Ideas
Before you run to the store to stock up on, say, popcorn or pretzels, know that it’s still important to read those labels! For example, while Skinny Pop and Snyder’s Pretzels are nut-free, other brands may be made with peanut oil or come from a factory that handles nuts. At the same time, if your bub is under age 4, you’ll want to cross-reference this nut-free snack list with common choking hazards found in our handy guide.
Even more nut-free snack ideas:
Animal crackers (like Barnum and Stauffer’s Animal Crackers)
Chickpea puffs (like Hippeas, The Good Bean Chickpeas, Zee Zees Cruncherz Roasted Chickpeas)
Crackers (like Goldfish, Triscuits, Wheat Thins)
Graham crackers (like Nabisco, Earth’s Best, and Honey Maid)
Puffs (like Pirate’s Booty, Munch Rights Baked Puffs)
Veggie snaps/sticks (like Harvest Snaps, Good Health Veggie Stix)
More on Feeding Toddlers:
- 14 Easy Daycare Lunch Ideas
- Decoding Your Toddler's Appetite
- Healthy Grab-and-Go Snacks for Toddlers
- More Healthy Snack Ideas!
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA)
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, FoodSafety.gov: The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2021
- Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE): This Blog Post May Contain: Food for Thought About Precautionary Allergen Labeling
- FDA: Have Food Allergies? Read the Label
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI): Everything You Need to Know about Tree Nut Allergy
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Kids with Food Allergies: Peanut Allergy
- AAFA, Kids with Food Allergies: Tree Nut Allergy
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.