Written By Else Team
Reviewed By: Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD
Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She specializes in writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics.
Research shows that 1.9% of children have some degree of a dairy allergy. There are times when a child might overcome this later in life, but for some, it's something they adapt to and learn to live with.
As their parents, you must find a way to incorporate dairy-free toddler snacks into their daily life to ensure they're getting the nutrition they need. We know the school year just started, but that doesn't make it any easier to find the right dairy-free snack for your toddler.
Well, we're here to help. Below you're going to find tons of snacks and recipes that you can use for kids with dairy milk allergies.
Dairy Allergy vs Lactose Intolerance
More than 332 million people are lactose intolerant, including children. Because of this intolerance, it means that as parents you might have to make some changes to your child’s diet.
At times it can be easy to mistake a dairy allergy for lactose intolerance, but there are some significant differences. Lactose intolerance is when the body stops producing the enzyme lactase, needed to digest lactose, after around age 2 years old.
When your body doesn't digest the lactose properly it moves into the colon and can cause things like excessive gas and uncomfortable stomach bloating. The primary difference between the two health conditions is that lactose has to do with your digestive system whereas a dairy allergy has to do with your immune system.
Signs and symptoms that your child has a dairy allergy include things like:
- Increase in gassiness
- Skin rashes
- Increased fussiness in babies
If you suspect your child may have a dairy allergy it's important to have them examined by their primary care physician. During this examine it's likely they will begin to tell you the foods your child should and shouldn't consume, to determine whether they have a true allergy.
What Can a Child with a Dairy Allergy Eat?
When you first hear that your child has a dairy allergy the first thing you think of maybe everything they can't include in their diet anymore, such as:
- Ice cream
- Certain cereals
- Sour cream
But there are tons of things that your child can continue to snack on. You’ll just need to take some time to figure out ways to be creative. Here are some things your dairy-free child can have to eat:
- Fresh or cooked vegetables
- Whole grains and other complex carbohydrates
- Healthy fats (like avocado and flaxseed)
- Plant-based substitutes (like non-dairy yogurt and plant-based milk products)
Each of these items you can tweak depending on your child's personal preferences. As parents, we understand there are some things children don't necessarily like to eat and that's when it's time to get creative with the snacks you give them.
1. Banana Peach Muffins
Who doesn't love peaches and banana muffins? If you're like us the jury is still out on whether muffins are just a form of beloved cupcakes, but that's something we'll get into another day.
These muffins are a great snack for your toddler, but they can also double as breakfast if you're in a hurry and need to grab something quick for your child to eat on their way to school.
Here's what you'll need to bake these delicious treats:
- 2 cups diced peaches (they can be frozen or fresh)
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (honey is a good substitute)
- 2 bananas
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or almond butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
The first step in this muffin-making process is to dice all your peaches. Ensure you dice them into small bite-size chunks because if not you're going to have huge pieces of peaches throughout each muffin.
Pull out your food processor and blend everything until it's smooth excluding your peaches. Once everything is blended and combined fold your peaches in.
Place your muffin cups into the muffin tin and fill each one with batter. Bake, one of the advantages of this recipe is you can make them ahead of time and store them in your refrigerator.
Also, if your child isn't fond of peaches you can always swap the fruit out for one they do enjoy.
There are some things you can do to make this recipe to the next level, with the first thing being to use ripe bananas. Also, if you're going to use coconut oil in your recipe you've got to allow it to melt.
Before taking your muffins out of the baking tin to store let them cool for some time or it will lead to storage container sweating, which makes your muffins wet.
If you want to go the extra mile you can add fruit to the top of your muffins when your toddler is getting ready to eat them.
2. Spinach & Banana Pancakes
Yes, you read that right! These pancakes have delicious bananas in them and nutritious spinach as well. And let's be honest, what child doesn't enjoy eating pancakes in various shapes and sizes?
The ingredients to gather for these pancakes are:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup flaxseed, ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Olive oil for cooking
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
After you've collected your ingredients it's time to start cooking your pancakes. Take all your ingredients and place them into a blender.
Start your blender on low and slowly increase the blender speed until you've reached the highest setting. The reason you do this is so the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Once you've done this slowly begin to incorporate the flour into the mix. Bend everything just enough that the flour is combined without going overboard.
After you've done this, you can put some on your griddle and begin to cook it.
Our first tip is while you're making your pancake batter give your skillet time to warm up on a low setting. If your griddle is too hot it will burn your pancakes before they've had a chance to cook thoroughly.
Also, keep in mind if you're going to use frozen spinach you might have to spend some extra time blending everything. If you're planning breakfast for the week, you can make the batter ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
3. Kids Applesauce
Of course, you could always opt to purchase premade applesauce for your child from the store, but you don't know what's in store-bought applesauce. Besides, it's much more fun to make your own applesauce and add your own flavor choices to it.
Give yourself ample time when making homemade applesauce because your apples will need some time to cook before you can blend them. For this recipe, we're going to make strawberry applesauce.
Things you'll need:
- 1 bag fresh or frozen strawberries
- 6 cups of apples
- 3/4 cups water
Before you start working with your strawberries take some time to put water in a pot for your apples. Use a knife to slice the cores out of the apples and then place the apples into the pot of water.
Bring the water to a boil and then turn your attention to your strawberries. Remove all stems from the berries and afterward run them underwater.
Give your apples around 30 minutes to become tender and then transfer them to your blender. Add the strawberries to the blender and blend until smooth.
Depending on your child you might leave it a bit chunky, but this is completely up to you. Set the applesauce aside to cool and then put it in the refrigerator.
This recipe is straightforward, but that doesn't mean you can't make some changes. You can always go with banana applesauce or play up the spices you decide to use.
This snack can be served either warm or cold. Another wonderful thing about making applesauce at home is you can tweak the amount of applesauce you make.
You can make a large batch and freeze some of it once it's cooled. If you don't have the time to make it yourself, you can always place all your ingredients in an instant pot or a crockpot and allow it to cool before blending everything.
4. Vegetable Chili
Chili is perfect for those cold winter days when you need something to warm your child's belly. Not to mention the beans you'll add to your chili are perfect sources of protein.
You can also change the ingredients you put in your chili, again the personal preferences of your child should be considered with this recipe. Things to put in your chili are:
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 14.5-ounce can kidney beans (other varieties if you don't like kidney beans)
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (keep the juice)
- 6 cups vegetables (take your pick)
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 1-quart vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lime juice
With all your ingredients prepared and ready to go, begin by warming up a pot with some oil in it. Keep the pot on medium-high heat to ensure you don't overcook anything.
Put in the vegetables you've chosen and allowed them to cook until slightly softened before you add other ingredients. Once your vegetables have become softer add your tomatoes, cumin, garlic, beans, and salt.
Mix them and then begin adding your vegetable stock. After adding your stock, bring everything to a boil. Stir in some of the lime juice you've set aside and get ready to serve.
This is the ultimate dish to customize for your child. If you want to make it Latin inspired, you can add avocado and non-dairy cheeses. If your child is picky, you can skip adding onions and vegetables that are noticeable.
Again, like the applesauce, if you want to make a large batch of it you can. After you make it, let the chili cool and store some in the freezer until your child is ready to have some again.
5. Fruit Parfaits
There is something delicious about a well-made fruit parfait. No matter what you add to it or put on top it's always a great snack for children.
While there are some non-dairy yogurt options in the store you can always choose to make the yogurt yourself.
The things you need to make your yogurt parfait:
- 1 cup fruit of your choosing
- 2 cups non-dairy yogurt
- 1 cup granola topping
If you want to make this snack fun give your children a chance to make the parfaits with you. Cut up your fruit if it needs to be cut before you start creating your parfait.
Put a scoop of the non-dairy yogurt into the parfait vessel and add your fruit on top. Continue layering the parfait until you've reached the top of the container and then serve.
This can be something you make ahead of time in a container and store it in the refrigerator.
One thing we recommend when selecting fruit for the parfait is choosing fruit that's in season. If you choose fruit that's out of season, you'll end up paying more money than necessary.
Also, get creative with the toppings you add to your parfaits, such as granola or whipped cream. You can also add some candy pieces to the top of your child's parfait as an added treat.
6. Trail Mix
One of our favorite snacks for kids would have to be trail mix. The reason is that your child can enjoy this snack at home, and they can take it to school in their lunch boxes.
The best part of making trail mix at home is you can put whatever you want in it. This is also beneficial because you're able to control the amount of added sugar your child is consuming.
Trail mix can be made with countless ingredients. Some examples are listed below.
(1/4 cup) Fruits to choose from:
- Apple or other fruit chips
- Freeze-dried fruit
- Dehydrated fruit
As far as fruits are concerned it's best if they're dried because fresh fruit isn't going to last long in your trail mix. Next, you need to consider the veggies (1/4 cup) you're going to add to the mix:
- Dried vegetable chips
- Vegetable crisps
Now it's time to think about your carbohydrate base. Think about using cereal or pretzels in the trail mix. Then choose the type of nuts (1/4 cup) you want to use and because it's for your child you might want to add something sweet as well.
This recipe is simple. You just throw everything together in a container and go.
With this recipe ensure you don't go overboard with any of the ingredients. If you add too much of one ingredient compared to the others it creates an unbalanced mixture.
If your child wants to help have them create their trail mix, that way they will have exactly what they want in their mix.
Dairy-Free Toddler Snacks to Make
When it comes to dairy-free toddler snacks that your child might like there are tons of options we've placed on this list for you. Whether your child wants trail mix or muffins there's something for everyone.
If you're looking for great nutritious products for your child's snacks and meals check out the what to buy section of Else Nutrition. Your child's nutrition is important to us, too.
The content and advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment, advice for specific medical conditions. Always consult a pediatrician to understand the individual needs of your child.