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A Guide to Healthy Bedtime Snacks for Kids

A Guide to Healthy Bedtime Snacks for Kids

The start of a new school year, certainly has a way of adding structure to family routine.  Days begin earlier, meals are served like clockwork, and after-school activities are added to the mix, along with earlier bedtimes. As everyone settles into the new schedule, it's not uncommon for kids (and parents) to feel more tired than usual. This might lead to the occasional request for a bedtime snack. However, distinguishing between a genuine request and a stalling tactic can sometimes be challenging. Keep reading for helpful tips!


1. How to tell if your child is genuinely hungry

It can be challenging to differentiate between genuine hunger and wanting to stay up a little longer. If your child has had a balanced dinner, has had enough to drink, and is still asking for a snack, then it is likely that they are indeed hungry. If they started playing a sport or are exerting themselves more than usual, the request may be sincere as well.  On the other hand, if they picked at dinner, and are asking for snacks shortly after, you may try saving their meal to re-serve again. It’s also important to assess snacking before dinner.  If a child tends to snack 1-2 hours before dinner, it’s logical that they will be full when dinner is served and then hungry a bit later. If this is the case, a snack will help them sleep better and prevent them from waking up in the middle of the night ravenous.


2. Avoid snacking as a stalling tactic

Some children use snack requests as a stalling tactic to prolong bedtime preparation. While it’s difficult to tell, our tip is to consider the overall timing.  If you move onto bath and bedtime routine shortly after dinner is served and consumed, the request is more likely to be a delay tactic. To avoid the unhealthy habits that come with stalling, set clear boundaries about bedtime and make sure they understand. For example, if children have already brushed teeth and are tucked in bed, it’s not the time eat. 


3. The best bedtime snacks to keep your child healthy

When choosing bedtime snacks for your kids, it is essential to consider the nutritional content. Unsweetened cereal with milk, a banana with nut butter, Greek yogurt or fruit are excellent choices. These snacks have a combination of protein and fiber and will keep your child full until morning. However, avoid high sugar, high fat, and high-calorie snacks like chips or sweets. While these snacks may be appealing to your kids, they can cause indigestion, weight gain, and may set the precedent for unhealthy habits as they grow up. 


4. Don’t stress over bedtime snacks

Instead, expect them!  Parents can easily become frustrated with another task or distraction before bedtime.  Instead, keep some healthy options available and remember to wrap uneaten dinner plates so they can be eaten when the request for bedtime snacks comes up.  “When my children ask for a bedtime snack, I take it as an opportunity to sneak another serving of fruit, veggies or whole grains into their day to make it a win-win” share’s Melanie Marcus, Dole’s Registered Dietitian.   


5. Here are some great ideas for healthy bedtime snacks:


- Half a whole-grain muffin with mashed avocado

- Sliced apple or pear with almond butter

- Vegetable sticks with hummus

- Greek yogurt topped with berries or granola

- Homemade whole grain banana bread with warm milk


Ensuring your child gets enough sleep is vital for their health and wellbeing which also plays an important part in adjusting to new routines and their ability to focus and perform well during the school day.  


Published August 1, 2023

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