When it comes to satisfying the late-night cravings of your little ones, you’ve probably got a list of go-to items that satisfy. You may be overlooking some really great options, though, and possibly giving others that aren’t always the best choice. So, this month, let’s take a look at a few good bedtime snacks for kids that’ll keep their teeth in good shape, their bellies full (but not too full!) and their little bodies in the right place for a good solid night’s sleep!
Why Bedtime Snacks Should Be Different Than Daytime Snacks
Who doesn’t like a good snack? Crunchy, salty, sweet … whatever our preference, the desire to snack is generally driven by our body’s need to satisfy an energy or nutritional demand, which can be hard to ignore. For kids, who can expend more energy than their parents over the course of a day, the need for snacking around meals is easy to understand – those little engines need a lot more steam to run on (running around!) than we do. So, during the day, snacks that fuel their thinking brains and active bodies should be chosen based on their ability to do just that – keep them going. At night, however, providing snacks with too much fuel tends to interfere with sleep, and can be more calorie-dense than necessary. The approach to pursue, then, is the same as it is for adults: go light, get a good mix of protein and carbs, and watch out for too much fiber because of its demand on the digestive system. By keeping these things in mind, your children will sleep better, feel full longer, and wake up in a better mood. Sounds ideal, right? Let’s take a look at the snacks!
Bedtime Snacks to Enjoy
Many of the snacks below work well as nighttime snacks because they provide melatonin or tryptophan to the body – both natural sleep-aids. Additionally, either individually or when combined with other foods (like Oatmeal and milk) these snacks boost serotonin levels (a mood elevator) – a plus any day of the week. In looking over the list below, think about when you eat any of the snacks during the day yourself – do you ever find they make you tired? That’s the melatonin working!
Bananas (also a muscle relaxant)
P.S. If you research the benefits of oatmeal as a nighttime snack you may find conflicting information on blogs and news websites. For our information, we went to a more reliable source – The Mayo Clinic, which endorses oatmeal as a snack for a variety of fact-based reasons.
Which Bedtime Snacks to Avoid
Anything high in fat: because of the increased energy load they put on the digestive system
Sugary snacks: because they’ll keep your kids awake, and are bad for their teeth
Most vegetables (suprise!): particularly cruciferous veggies like broccoli, because their high fiber content means they move more slowly through the digestive tract and are likely to produce gas, which can affect a good night’s sleep.
What else? Well, as an adult, you’ve probably heard it’s not a good idea to eat too close to bedtime, mostly due to acid reflux concerns. While kids are not immune to this, they are less prone to experience it in general. So, use your own judgment – after all, you know your child best. In fact, some dieticians suggest we should consume a light snack 15-30 minutes before bed to fuel fat burning. How’s that for taking the usually recommended advice and spinning it on its head!!