Choosing Biscuits and Crackers for Babies and Toddlers

image of a toddler eating a biscuit by Starting Solids Australia

What to look for when choosing biscuits and crackers! 

Biscuits and crackers- much beloved snacks for toddlers everywhere! But….what makes a “good” cracker? Is there anything you should avoid or look for? When can babies eat crackers? Don't worry, we have got you covered!

WHEN CAN YOU OFFER CRACKERS AND BISCUITS?

This isn't a simple yes or no answer. It really does depend on the type of cracker or biscuit! Unfortunately, most biscuits and crackers aren’t really suitable for babies (6-11 months). They can be a choking hazard depending on the texture, can be really high in sugar and salt and often aren’t very nutrient dense so don’t meet their high nutrition needs!

What to avoid for babies:

  • Hard, brittle or sharp crackers and chips should be avoided until closer to 2 years of age when chewing skills are much more advanced and the risk of small pieces breaking off and becoming a choking hazard is reduced.
  • Some crackers and biscuits will contain honey as a sweetener-you want to avoid this until after 12 months of age.
  • Remember that biscuits often contain common allergens like wheat, dairy, egg, soy and nuts. Keep this in mind if you haven’t introduced all common allergens one by one yet.
  • Nuts and seed- large pieces of nuts and seeds in crackers can also be a choking hazard and should be avoided.

What to look for for babies:

  • No added salt
  • Low or no added sugar (low is less than 5g per 100g)
  • The right texture- this is probably the MOST  important thing for babies! Having the right texture is important because in general the texture of biscuits makes them a more common choking hazard. Teething rusks, biscuits and baby crackers (so products that are specifically made for babies) should be the right texture. Often these are very hard and pieces do not break off or they are what we call "meltable" so as soon as they hit saliva they melt and aren't a choking risk. If a packet of crackers has been opened for a while, ensure they aren't stale, as this can change the texture and increase the risk of choking. The other type of biscuit that works well for babies is thin rice cakes or corn cakes. Puffs are also suitable from 8+ months for most bubs.
  • Soft biscuits and cookies (I.e a homemade style oat cookie or gingerbread) should be soft enough to squish between your fingers or melt in your mouth.

TIP:

Biscuits and cracker on their own aren't very nutrient dense! For this reason, we suggest that you use them as a vehicle for spreads, dips and toppings like nut butters, avocado, hummus, mashed white beans, yoghurt and fruit. Otherwise serve a small amount alongside other foods at a meal or snack so they aren't filling bub up without offering key nutrients like protein, fats and iron. 

HOW ABOUT TODDLERS:

From 12 months of age we expect chewing skills to be coming along nicely and we can start to offer more challenging textures. Soft crackers are well managed by most toddlers (think water thins, Ritz biscuits, digestives, milk arrowroot biscuit texture).

  • We still want to minimise the sugar (less than 15g per per 100g) and minimise salt (less than 400mg per 100g).
  • Offer crackers and biscuits alongside other food at a meal or snack, or use toppings/dips to boost the nutrition.
  • Hold off on biscuits and crackers that are very hard or have sharp edges until 18-24 months (be guided by their chewing skills). For harder or sharper biscuit/cracker textures you should wait until you are confident your toddler can chew foods well, model chewing them, always supervise them and don't let them run around with these types of foods in their mouth.  Harder/sharper biscuits and cracker include things like corn chips, vita-weat biscuits, crustini). 

NUTRITION: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

SUGAR:

One of the main things we are considering when it comes to biscuits and crackers is the sugar content. Even savoury ones will often have a surprising amount of sugar. We are ideally aiming for less than 15g per 100g to keep the sugar content low to moderate. Lower is better where you can!

Keep an eye out for tricky labelling around sugar. Sometimes it will say things like dextrose, fructose, caster sugar, maple syrup, glucose, golden syrup, honey, sucrose, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar and raw sugar. These are ALL sugar. The higher up the ingredient list, the more of that ingredient is in that product. So if sugar is one of the first few ingredients you know it has a decent amount of added sugar in there. You might also see sugar listed multiple times using different names throughout the ingredient list.

SALT:

This will be called sodium on the nutrition information panel on the box.  We want to aim for crackers and biscuits with less than 400mg per 100g and as close to or lower than 120mg per 100g is best.

FIBRE:

We are ideally aiming for 3g or more per serve.  Most children in Australia do not get enough fibre in their diet, so biscuits and cracker with a good amount of fibre are an easy way to help boost their overall fibre intake. Often this means selecting wholegrain options or ones with nuts and seeds. Just keep an eye on the size of any nuts or seeds as large pieces can still be a choking hazard even for older toddlers. 

FAT AND SATURATED FAT:

For children under the age of 2 we recommend full fat products and aren't worried about the fat content. Over the age of 2 we are aiming for 10g of fat or less per 100g in products like biscuits and crackers. 

 Saturated fat is a little different and it is recommended to limited saturated fat for all children. Aiming for less than 3g per 100g is ideal.

 

Want specific recommendations and reviews of crackers or biscuits? Leave a comment below and let us know WHAT products you want us to take a closer look at and keep an eye out for our upcoming product reviews!

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Responses

  1. Corn/rice thins – plain – ok or not?
    I see the (Only Organic?) flavoured ones in the baby aisle of the supermarket and wonder if I can just give babe the ones I eat.
    Arnott’s family pack biscuits – best ones?
    Cruskits?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey Mel! We have JUST written reviews on corn thins and the Only Organics rice cakes today so keep an eye out for these in the coming weeks BUT we actually really like the Real Foods Corn Thins-they don’t have added sugar and aren’t too high in salt. Great vessel for purees, dips and spreads.