Even when your toddler eats all his/her meals and snacks throughout the day, tummies can occasionally grumble at bedtime. While it’s easy to think that it isn’t a good idea to have a snack before bed, it can be equally problematic if you leave a little belly feeling hungry.
Hunger can make it very difficult for a child – or an adult, for that matter – to feel restful. The discomfort can make bedtime a lengthy and sleepless affair.
The key to snacks at bedtime is to choose something light, adequately satisfying, nutritious and, of course, something your little one actually likes! When you choose a bedtime snack, you need to choose a food and a portion that will ease the hunger pangs without giving your kid a burst of energy.
Keep the following in mind when selecting a snack before you brush your son or daughter’s teeth and start getting ready for bed.
Nutrition– Nutrient dense snacks are a great way to help support your child’s nutrition. If your little one is peckish at bedtime, think back over what he or she ate that day. Could your child do with another serving of veggies? Was today a relatively low day when it comes to calcium?
Use this opportunity to top up your little one’s nutrient balance. Even better, many kids who might refuse to eat healthy foods during the daytime are often more likely to be willing to enjoy them before bed to satisfy their hunger.
Perfect veggie options can include cucumbers and celery. They’re high in fiber, which makes them filling while being high in water content, which is hydrating. These can both promote better sleep.
Soothing foods – Certain foods have calming properties. For instance, whole grain foods often also contain a natural chemical called tryptophan. That chemical is naturally relaxing.
Still, this isn’t the same for all carbs. Sugary and processed foods such as cookies, breakfast cereal, and other similar items are low in nutrition and may cause a spike and crash in energy. Instead, consider a piece of whole grain toast with a touch of hummus, natural peanut butter (the sugar-free type), or mashed banana.
Calcium-rich snacks– Many foods that are high in calcium not only satisfy hunger very easily but they also make soothing choices for bedtime. A little bit of plain Greek Yogurt or cottage cheese topped with finely chopped banana or used as a dip for some whole grain crackers can make a great snack option for filling little tummies.
When you serve your little one a snack, make sure it’s eaten sitting up at a table, not in bed (to reduce the risk of choking and to promote restfulness once your child is ready to sleep). Keep portions small so they’re big enough to satisfy hunger without being large enough to make your little one feel full. That full feeling can delay sleep.