If your kids demand a snack before bedtime, you face a dilemma: how to satisfy them without giving them food that will keep them up all night. Definitely avoid giving them foods with high levels of caffeine or sugar, but also look for snacks that contain carbohydrates and tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid. Foods with carbs and tryptophan will satisfy kids' nighttime cravings and put them to sleep.
Oatmeal or Cereal
Oatmeal makes a great bedtime snack for kids. The carbohydrates in oatmeal causes the body to produce serotonin, and because the body digests it slowly, your child will not wake in the middle of the night due to a spike in blood sugar. Serve oatmeal with warm milk, which can also induce sleep, and apple slices to add flavor. A small bowl of whole grain cereal and milk also makes a good nighttime snack -- just make sure that the cereal is low in sugar.
It might seem to be exclusively a lunchtime food, but a small sandwich can induce sleep if it contains the right ingredients. Fill two small pieces of whole grain bread with some turkey slices. Turkey is a well-known deliverer of tryptophan, and you can add some creamy dressing and a piece of lettuce to give it a flavor and crunch that your child will enjoy. A small peanut butter sandwich can also help put little ones to sleep. Serve with a glass of warm milk.
Grapes and Yogurt
Grapes have been found to contain melatonin, a hormone that can induce sleep. Wash them and serve them whole before bedtime. Alternatively, cut them in half and stir them into yogurt for a delicious bedtime snack. Try to get low-fat yogurt and avoid flavored yogurt, which often contains sugar. Also try mixing granola into a a bowl of low-fat plain yogurt.
Other Snack Ideas
Cottage cheese also helps induce sleep because it contains tryptophan. Serve it to your kids cold or warm, and sprinkle some cinnamon on top for flavor. Almonds and sesame seeds can also induce sleep because they contain calcium (this is partly why warm milk is effective). Chamomile tea can help young children fall sleep. When preparing tea for your kids, make it weaker and cooler than tea you would make for yourself. If your kids don't like the taste, try flavoring it with honey or lemon.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images