Kids loooove asking for snacks. In general, we try to focus on meal time, but it’s inevitable that there will be some between meal noshing. A good place to start is with a fruit and/or vegetable and then adding at least one other food, but this can get tricky when a kiddo wants a snack before bedtime.
Counterintuitively, however, according to WeeSleep’s CEO Janey Reilly, if your child has a healthy snack before bed it can actually help them stay asleep longer. That might mean you can avoid a 5 a.m. wake-up call.
When it comes to providing your child with a nutritious bedtime snack, there are a few things to keep in mind.
“Serve it around 45 minutes before your child’s bedtime to give the food time to settle and to allow them to brush their teeth afterward,” says Reilly. “When you’re choosing a snack, you should try to have a balance of protein, fat and carbs to keep your child’s blood sugar steady through the night. While a healthy snack can be a good idea before bed, make sure that it’s not too big. That could affect your child’s breakfast appetite.”
So what are the best options? Keep reading for Reilly’s top picks.
“Yogurt, milk, and cheese can all make good bedtime snack options. Dairy products have something called tryptophan. Tryptophan is what our bodies use to naturally make melatonin. Melatonin helps us relax and fall asleep. That’s why you often hear about the fabled glass of warm milk before bed. There’s a real scientific basis behind it.”
“All kinds of fruit make good bedtime snacks for kids, but especially bananas. Bananas have potassium and magnesium, which help promote healthy, high-quality sleep.”
“Nut butters are filling and nutritious, making them a good bedtime snack. You can give any kind of nut butter to your child on a piece of whole-grain bread, and for even more nutrition, consider adding fruit. You can also add peanut butter or another nut butter to celery or fruit without the bread. For example, bananas and peanut butter is a great bedtime snack.”
“Oatmeal is warm, soothing, and filling. It’s like a healthy comfort food pre-bedtime. For extra nutrients and to pack a powerful punch with oatmeal, add things on top like fruit or nuts. You can add honey to oatmeal or on top of some of the above snacks like nut butter toast. Honey allows insulin to be released, which in turn is used by the brain to create melatonin and serotonin, helping your child sleep.”
“If you want to make your child a pre-bed smoothie, add some cherries. Like many of the other foods discussed above, cherries and especially tart ones, are thought to increase melatonin levels naturally.”
“Hardboiled eggs are filled with protein, and they’re just filling enough without being too much for a bedtime snack.”