At Safe in the Seat, we love a family road trip. It’s a great way for everyone to experience something new and grow closer together—no matter their age! Though the drive and upcoming destination are exciting, there is also danger that comes with a road trip. Keeping everyone safe using our safety tips is often a no-brainer for parents!
Everyone stays buckled? No problem. Make sure the car is in tiptop shape? Done! The car is free of projectiles? Of course. No snacks on the drive? Ye—wait, what? No snacks at all? This might have been a dialogue you had with yourself when you read our Road Trips Done Right post. So, now you’re asking us: Are car snacks safe?
This is a question we get all the time! Especially since snacks are absent from our 25 family road trip essentials list. So, today, we’re dedicating this post to car seat snack safety. Here’s the truth about snacks and car rides:
Are Car Snacks For Toddlers Safe?
We’re not going to tell you never to feed your child in the car. However, understand that any time your child eats, there’s a risk of choking. So we’re going to drop a hard truth on you: there’s no safe way to help a choking child in a moving car.
Choking is silent — a child who is gagging or gasping isn’t truly choking (though they might progress to true choking!) — so adults in the front seat may not notice a child in distress in the backseat. Especially if that child is rear-facing! And even if a grownup notices right away, that adult won’t be in a good position to respond fast enough. So letting children snack on the go is definitely risky business!
Beyond the choking hazard, another consideration is that many snack and drink containers would become dangerous projectiles in a crash. A stainless steel straw cup or a hard plastic bento box can suddenly become a weapon when the car is screeching to a stop. Yep, even the snack containers themselves can pose a risk if you’re not careful!
If you do choose to feed your child snacks on your long road trip, remember a few things:
- Never breastfeed while the car is moving. It’s dangerous for baby AND mama! (Read more about feeding baby in car seats.)
- Consider the recline of your child. We recommend no snacks for kids under two because of their reclined position.
- Avoid sticky foods like peanut butter, cream cheese, or fruit snacks.
- Avoid raw vegetables and fruit like carrot or apple slices.
- Avoid hard candy and lollipops (AKA suckers) in the car. They’re a big choking risk!
If you consider all these factors and decide to bring food for your kiddo, consider these safer road trip snack ideas:
Safe Car Snacks For Toddlers
Fruit or Yogurt Pouches
Fruit and yogurt pouches are healthy, easy to eat in the car, and often shelf-stable! This also makes them a great road trip treat. We know that these pouches are hardly mess-free, though. So,consider grabbing a reusable flow control valve topper that prevents their smoothies from falling into their lap!
Teething Wafers or Sticks
These are great snacks for younger children to eat on the go (though, remember, we do not recommend children under two have snacks in their car seat.). These wafers and sticks are long-lasting, easy for your child to hold, and do double-duty by helping those sore teeth. We will warn you, the sticks can also be a bit messy! The benefit of the wafers is that so many come in one box, they’ll probably last you the whole trip.
Fast-dissolving puffs or Cheerios are easy road trip snacks that are easy to clean and will also please your toddler. And, if they do end up on the floor, they’re not a huge hassle to sweep or vacuum up (this one’s our fav!) when you arrive at your destination.
Goldfish are easy-to-eat and mess-free as well. Plus, people of all ages love Goldfish! A big carton of Goldfish could feed the whole family’s snacking needs along the way.
For another healthy snack option, consider string cheese. If you’re giving string cheese to your toddlers, consider “pre-stringing” it into smaller pieces that are much less of a choking hazard than biting chunks off the larger cheese stick. You could also put shreds of cheese in a reusable snack cup or bag.
Mini muffins are easy to store and eat in the car. However, if your child tends to take large bites or stuff their face, mini muffins may be the perfect “can-I-fit-this-all-in-my-mouth” challenge. If that’s the case, go with another food on this list.
Animal crackers are both a snack and a toy. You’ll hear your toddler erupting with various animal sounds as they play pretend and slowly eat away at their animal crackers. This makes them a great road trip snack!
Things like granola bars and string cheese are nice for the car, because if it gets dropped, there aren’t a ton of tiny pieces to pick up. Granola bars that are soft, but not too chewy or crumbly, are another one of those snacks everyone in the car can safely enjoy.
Waffles and Fruit
If you’re looking for healthy road trip snacks that aren’t pre-packaged, waffles and fruit are a good combo. Simply make your waffles beforehand and cut them into strips. Then, chop up your fruit into bite-sized chunks. Add the combo to a snack cup or silicone bento box for a healthy toddler-friendly snack or meal.
Freeze Dried Fruit
Sticky fruit hands may not be your favorite road trip moment. Instead, pick up freeze-dried fruit from the grocery store. It’s easy to bite into, holds all the great flavor, dissolves quickly, and feels like eating a piece of candy! Your toddlers will be fooled, and you’ll be happy.
A curated trail mix for toddlers can be an exciting and (somewhat) healthy snack for road trips. Just make sure everything is cut into small pieces! Here are some suggested ingredients:
- Chocolate Chips
- Chopped Nuts
- Chex Cereal
- Coconut Chips
- Freeze-Dried Fruit
For one last pre-packaged option, Veggie Straws make a good toddler-friendly road trip snack. The “straw” style helps ensure they won’t become choking risks and the original flavoring option creates minimal mess. Plus, your whole family can indulge in these healthy chips too!
Safe Car Snack Containers
This is a small, mom-owned company that we just love! These silicone bento boxes are our favorite family road trip hack. They won’t become projectiles, they include five variously-sized compartments, and they have an easy-to-remove lid. All your road trip snacks in one place!
These reusable silicone bags are great for storing cereal, trail mix, and other loose foods! You can either pour them into a snack cup using these bags, or you can hand the whole pouch to your child. They’re easy to open and infinitely reusable.
If the last zip-top silicone bags weren’t exciting enough, these animal-shaped ones should do the trick. They, again, have an easy-to-open top and pose no projectile risk, making them an ideal road trip pouch too.
Don’t forget about drinks! Water bottles are one of the most common dangerous projectiles found in vehicles. (Sorry, mom, leave your Stanley at home.) This water bottle is made of a soft plastic and includes a cool misting feature that’s great for beating the heat in the back seat! However, this style of bottle probably works best for older kids.
These silicone tumblers are much easier for toddlers to use and, again, pose no projectile risk. The soft texture is ideal for easy holding and handling too! We also love that these cups come in a 2-pack. You can exchange your Stanley for this tumbler when traveling by car. It’s the safest for everyone!
It’s always risky to let your child eat in the car.
Though it’s safest to avoid snacks in the car, we understand that’s not feasible all the time. So, if you do choose to let your kiddos eat on the go, make sure you manage that risk as best you can. The right tools and grocery list will keep everyone fed and safe in their seat. You can find more vehicle safety information HERE. Until then, have a great trip!
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