Meals and snack times come often when feeding toddlers, so having nutritious and flavorful dry cereals in the house can make things a little easier. But since the selection available in the cereal aisle seems to keep growing, it can be overwhelming to pick the healthiest options from the endless rows of boxes. I’ve done the work for you and narrowed the field down to the best options for toddlers.
This list is filtered by nutrition, with a particular focus on low added sugar and whole grain ingredients. I also took ease of eating into consideration, so each of these picks is something that my daughter has tried and loved. And if you’re wondering how on earth your cute but messy little eater will ever manage a bowl of cereal and milk without making a total mess, know this: You can just add enough milk to moisten the cereal, which will also make them easier to scoop up in a spoon (or with their fingers). Each of these cereals also makes a perfectly great snack when served dry—and you can just put the milk into a spill-proof sippy cup.
The Best Dry Cereals for Toddlers
- Original Cheerios
This yellow box is an iconic kid food for a reason: It’s low in added sugar with just one gram per adult serving, full of whole grains from oats, and easy for little hands to pick up with the pincer grasp. (My three-year-old is still obsessed with them!)
- Joe’s O’s
If you do your grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s and you have a toddler, definitely add Joe’s O’s to your regular shopping list. They have an almost identical nutrition profile to Cheerios, but they are priced at a very affordable $1.99 per box.
- Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal
If your toddler likes puffs, they might like this puffed whole grain cereal. The cereal is filled with whole grains including wheat, rice, oats, and barley and are free from added sugar. Try them dry as a snack, in a snack mix with dried fruit, or with a little milk for breakfast.
- Mom’s Best Naturals Toasted Wheat-Fuls
Crunchy when dry and super moist when combined with milk, Toasted Wheat-fuls are another whole grain option that the whole family can enjoy. They contain no added sugar and are made with just wheat (and fortifying vitamins and minerals). These are also great as a snack or moistened with milk alongside some fruit as part of a quick breakfast. (Can’t find them in your store? Try a store-brand shredded wheat—just be sure to read the label to avoid versions with added sugars.)
- Nature’s Path Corn Puffs
The next time you’re at a natural food market, check out their selection of puffed whole grains. Usually there is puffed corn, puffed kamut, and puffed millet, in addition to puffed rice. Puffed corn, like this organic and unsweetened version from Nature’s Path, is a nice option for toddlers since the pieces are easy to pick up, they are crunchy, and yet they dissolve in the mouth. (Kix, while very lightly sweetened, work too, especially if you are less concerned about organics, GMOs, and corn.)
- Barbara’s Original Puffins
These toasty bites are a flavorful option to occasionally include in your toddler’s diet. An adult serving does contain five grams of sugar, but for a toddler, they will likely eat less cereal—and less added sugar. Puffins are made with non-GMO corn and they contain a nice amount of fiber and vitamin C. (The Peanut Butter Puffins, which contain a gram more sugar, are crazy delicious too!)
Some of these will be easier than others to find at mainstream grocery stores, which seem to give more shelf space to the brightly colored—and very sweet—cereals. Natural food stores generally have more options, though if you look for five grams of sugar or less per serving and whole grains as a first or second ingredient, you should be able to find a few options no matter where you live.
More Breakfasts for Toddlers: