They’re hungry, but should you give kids a snack before bedtime? What snacks are best to give kids before bed? We asked Sally, who is a mom and Registered Dietitian, and this is what we found out!
Bedtime can be tricky. You guys agreed with us on that since our #1 downloaded podcast is Tips For A Better Nights Sleep For Your Family. But how about bedtime snacks? Bedtime snacks can be tricky too.
On the one hand, when your child asks for a snack before bedtime it might be stalling tactics in disguise, especially for young kids who want to stay up later. After all, sitting at the table having crackers with mom is a lot more fun than going to sleep!
Kids can also fall into a pattern of using the bedtime snack as a dependable plan B after dinners they weren’t wild about. No need to taste that new recipe when you know there’s a big bowl of cereal waiting for you before bed.
On the other hand, a bedtime snack can offer extra nutrition to your child’s day, keep growing kids full, and even help them relax and fall asleep. Kids will sleep better if they go to bed with a little food in their stomachs.
So here are a few tips for handling bedtime snacks:
Incorporate an evening snack option into the bedtime routine instead of making it an extension of it. Have a set time for the snack option and give a couple nutritious choices. And be sure your kids know it’s optional, since you don’t want them eating when they’re not actually hungry.
Be sure your child is getting nourishment at dinner. Have something on the dinner table your child likes every night, even if it’s simply a side dish they like such as rice or some fruit. If you think your child is holding out for preferred foods at bedtime, avoid “fun” foods like gummy fruit snacks or granola bars as bedtime snacks in favor of more “boring” fare like a banana or a glass of milk.
Focus on calming, easy to digest foods for bedtime snacks. Greasy or fried foods may upset tummies and make it harder to fall asleep. Kids can also be sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine in things like chocolate and tea. On the flipside, foods that are rich in carbohydrates or high in protein can be calming and help the body relax. Specific foods like nuts, eggs, and milk have even been studied for being especially good at promoting sleep–though more research is needed.
Here are 9 ideas for healthy bedtime snacks:
- Whole grain crackers with cheese stick
- Plain yogurt with spoonful of all-fruit jam
- Baby carrots and hummus
- Whole grain toast w/ peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter) and strawberry slices
- Smoothie with milk, frozen banana, and few drops of vanilla
- Small bowl oatmeal with raspberries and drizzle of honey
- Hard-boiled egg
- Cottage cheese topped with fruit, such as berries or mandarin oranges
- Popcorn tossed with nuts and dried fruit