An evening snack can help settle a toddler down for sleep.

Evening Snacks to Help Soothe & Relax Toddlers

by Lori A. Selke

Toddlers are natural snackers. They're busy all day -- often too busy to hold still and eat a full meal. Many parents find that their toddler needs a snack just before bedtime. A small bite of food can help settle a child down for sleep. Keep it nutritious, choose foods that are easy and slow to digest, and you may have found a new bedtime ritual.

1. Fruit

Bananas contain not only a good dose of magnesium, which helps relax muscles; they also contain melantonin and serotonin, which assist in regulating sleep cycles. Plus, their starchiness helps your toddler feel full all through the night. Other fruits can also make for a good bedtime snack. A handful of strawberries or blueberries, a sliced peach or pear are all solid choices.

2. Bread and Other Carbohydrates

Cincinnati Children's Hospital suggests a light carbohydrate as the ideal bedtime snack for toddlers. Try graham crackers and applesauce or a small bowl of breakfast cereal in the evening, or offer a bowl of oatmeal. A piece of whole-grain toast with butter or jam or half a sandwich with turkey or other deli meat would also do the trick.

3. Protein

Protein is harder to digest than carbohydrates, but it's also more filling. For a bedtime snack, try a couple slices of roast turkey breast from the deli -- turkey is loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid that may encourage restful sleep. Or slice a hard-boiled egg and offer it as a snack. If you'd prefer a vegetarian protein option, try offering your toddler a dab of peanut butter on whole-grain crackers or bread.

4. Warm Milk and Other Dairy

Warm milk is a bedtime snack with a time-honored reputation of helping settle children down for sleep. It could be the protein boost, or it could be the tryptophans. Serve the milk alone or accompanying any of the previously mentioned snacks. Add a little malted milk, if you like, for an additional protein boost. Plain yogurt or a couple slices of cheese are also ideal dairy choices for an evening bite.

About the Author

Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images