When your busy day approaches its end the only thing you probably think of is your bed. This might not exactly be the case for your little one. “Bedtime, I’d rather eat worms!” Or how about those famous never ending “just five more minutes.” 

If you make a bedtime snack part of your nighttime routine, you might be able to end the fuss and fury very quickly.  Everyone likes something nice to look forward to.  A bedtime story, a bedtime cuddle and happy thoughts for dreaming should seem to fit the bill.  But if you add a little bit of yummy food those little eyes might close faster than you’d think.

The first thing you should know is the best time for the snack is 45 minutes to 1 hour before bed.  If children go to bed hungry they don’t sleep well; and if they go to bed stuffed, they don’t sleep well either.  

Even though hot chocolate sounds like a comforting food, it’s not for bedtime.  You definitely want to stay away from anything with chocolate, tea or soda.  They might contain enough caffeine to disrupt a good sleep pattern.  You want to serve warm milk because it contains the magical tryptophan.  Tryptophan is one of 10 essential amino acids that is well-known for making you drowsy.  Turkey is loaded with it, and you know how sleepy a big turkey dinner can make you.

Then you want to combine it with some complex carbohydrates because the carbohydrates start the release of insulin which aids the tryptophan getting in the brain. This is where the sleepy part starts. Just think of TCCS.  Tryptophan and complex carbohydrates = sleep 

Aside from turkey, there are many other foods that are rich in tryptophan.  Dairy (there’s the milk), oatmeal, eggs and meat and seafood and poultry.  Also peanuts and sunflower seeds and sesame and whole grains and lentils. 

When it comes to the complex carbohydrates you have a wide range of choices.  Look at fruit, bread and cereal.  Apples, pears, strawberries, grapefruit, yams, cucumbers are all good choices; the list goes on and on.  Whole grain raisin bread is delicious.  Toast is cozy.  And don’t forget that you can use your cookie cutters for making cute shapes.  You can give your child a little hot oatmeal with some milk but far away from sugar cereals.  

Forget sugar altogether at bedtime.  Sugar rises the blood sugar level, which may interrupt a good night’s sleep. It will produce the exact opposite response of the results you are seeking.

Make a list of foods that are appropriate for bedtime.  Put them in columns, if you like.  (You can print out a list and use one for every night.)  Then let your child check off the ones – at least one from each column – that she wants.  Your child can even help you make the list.  You want it to be simple, fun and easy.  

To get you started, here are some healthy and easy treats that are perfect for bedtime:

• A fruit smoothie…which is good for just about any time of the day though

 Apple slices with bites of cheese

 A little peanut butter on crackers

 Turkey and cheese with whole-grain crackers

 Yogurt with fresh fruit.

 Graham crackers and applesauce

 Banana slices and yogurt

 A few slices of deli-meat rolled up

 A warm glass of milk with an oatmeal cookie

A wonderful thing about bedtime snacks is that you can keep most of the foods on hand.  And if your son checks off his favorites in the morning, you can make sure that you have them in the house by the time it’s light’s out.

Sweet dreams.  

Do you have any ideas, tips or tricks for some great, healthy bedtime snacks?  Or a fun good night story or a riddle which you tell while your little one is eating?

Please leave a comment.

Written by Holly White for WILLY’S KITCHEN

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