“21 Easy Bedtime Snacks for Kids” was written by Sophia Martella and reviewed/edited by Rivah Goldstein MScFN, RD and Jackie Silver MHSc, RD.
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Medical Disclaimer: The information in this article is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be personalized medical or nutrition advice. For a plan tailored to your needs, please consult with a Registered Dietitian or qualified healthcare professional.
Last updated: September 19, 2023
Bedtime Snacks for Kids
Incorporating a bedtime routine is important for kids to develop healthy sleeping habits. It’s natural for kids to feel hungry before going to bed, and providing them with a snack can help keep their tummies satisfied throughout the night. Finding nutritious snacks that your children will enjoy can sometimes be a daunting task. Fear not, for this article aims to simplify the process of selecting bedtime snacks for kids, making it easy and enjoyable for all of you.
We’ve tailored this blog post towards neurodivergent children (those with ASD, ADHD, or IDD) although these suggestions can apply to all kiddos! Since we know that parents are super busy, we’ve come up with super simple and quick snack ideas that you can whip up in a pinch!
How do you incorporate snack time into your kids’ bedtime routine?
Encouraging your kids to eat enough dinner is important to prevent them from frequently feeling hungry before bedtime. However, it’s important to recognize that this may not always be possible. Pay attention to your child’s hunger cues, as they know their own bodies best.
If your child asks for a snack, try to establish a regular time every day for it. This helps maintain a consistent sleep schedule for them and will allow their body to adjust to the snack before bed. This is especially helpful for autistic or ADHD kids who thrive off of structure.
Creating a snack menu plan for your child that offers them a selection of choices will be most helpful. This will allow them to make their own decisions about what to eat and give them more independence and autonomy over their food.
When it comes to snack time, involving your child in choosing a location to eat can bring added benefits to their routine. This simple act helps create a familiar environment for their snack time. Ensure that the environment they are in is relaxing to help them wind down for the night.
What kind of snacks should you avoid giving your kid before bedtime?
Before we dive into the different types of snacks to provide for your kids before bedtime, let’s first understand why the kind of snack you choose is important. A well-chosen bedtime snack can make a significant difference in helping your kid relax and wake up refreshed in the morning.
Large meals are not ideal to give your kid before bed. They take longer to break down in the body and can disrupt sleeping patterns. Avoid providing your kid with a large quantity, heavy meal. Some examples of heavy meals include: meats (steak, beef, chicken) and fried foods (french fries, chicken nuggets, fast food).
Foods that contain caffeine (chocolate, Coca-Cola) or high amounts of sugar (fruit juices, candy, pop) should be avoided. Caffeine is a stimulant that can prevent sleep from occurring by keeping the brain awake. Sugary foods can cause a “spike” in blood sugar, which can have negative effects on sleep quality.
This is especially relevant for kids with ADHD who are on stimulants and who’s sleep is impacted by their meds. We want to avoid foods that can worsen their sleep.
Spicy foods or acidic foods such as tomatoes and vinegar-based products can cause heartburn or acid reflux. Lying down right after eating these foods can cause acid to move from your stomach up to your throat causing an uncomfortable sensation. This is more common in people who frequently experience heartburn.
Nonetheless, it is best to provide your kid with a snack that is not highly acidic (tomato sauce, vinegars) or spicy (sriracha, chili, hot peppers). Instead, try a recipe idea below for something that won’t disturb their sleep!
What are healthy bedtime snacks for kids?
Now that we have established what foods to avoid before bedtime, let’s introduce some ideal bedtime snacks for kids that will keep them full while allowing them to have a restful sleep.
A study exploring the connection between food and sleep has revealed that certain foods can help increase sleep duration. Those foods include milk, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein sources. They are rich in a nutrient called “tryptophan”, which is believed to be the main reason for feeling sleepy after consuming them.
Combining carbs (like crackers or bananas) with proteins (such as almond butter, cheese, or yogurt) can be beneficial. Carbs help the brain access tryptophan, while proteins help produce it.
Read more about the role of protein for ADHD here.
21 Bedtime Snack Ideas for your Kids
Now that we know what types of food are best to provide before bedtime and what healthy habits to include, let’s take a look at some easy and healthy bedtime snacks for kids.
- Kiwi with Almonds
Kiwi is not only delicious but also offers several benefits that make it a great choice before sleep. Its high content of a chemical called “serotonin” plays a role in regulating sleep.
Simply peel and slice the kiwi for your kid to enjoy. Pair with almonds for a healthy fat and protein source.
Banana is a fruit that is a complex carbohydrate- meaning it doesn’t cause a “spike” in blood sugar. Almonds contain magnesium that can help relax the muscles, which is especially important right before bed. Banana and almond butter is one of many healthy and easy bedtime snacks for kids.
Try these nut butters:
- Barney Butter Bare Smooth Almond Butter
- Reese’s Smooth Traditional Peanut Butter Spread
- Omega Nutrition Pumpkin Seed Butter
These frozen blueberry yogurt bites are delicious and perfect for a hot day! Use greek yogurt for an extra high protein bedtime snack for kids. Dip the fruit into the yogurt, place on a baking sheet, freeze, and enjoy!
- Whole Grain Crackers with Cheese
Cheese and crackers are a great bedtime snack for kids because they contain both a protein and whole grain source to keep your child’s tummy full and happy through the night.
- Bagel Slice with Cream Cheese
When possible, use whole grain bagels with cream cheese, however any bagel will do just fine! To add more color to the bagel, you can add different fruit toppings like strawberries, blueberries or banana slices.
- Cereal with Milk and Berries
Choose cereals that are lower in sugar to avoid the “spike” in blood sugar mentioned before. Some great cereal brands that are low in sugar include: Nature’s Path Organic Millet Puffs Cereal, Post Shredded Wheat Big Biscuit Cereal or Original Cheerios. Berries are a great source of fiber and they won’t spike your blood sugar.
Check out this blog post on high fiber cereals!
- Sliced Veggies with Cream Cheese or Hummus
Vegetables are a great fresh food for kids to snack on and are part of an excellent bedtime snack for kids. Including a dip on the side can make the vegetables more appetizing for your kids. Cutting the veggies into different shapes can also be a fun take on this simple snack idea!
- Greek Yogurt with Berries and Granola
Look for Greek yogurt options that are low in added sugars or choose plain Greek yogurt and add natural sweeteners like fresh berries or a drizzle of honey. For an extra crunch factor, add some granola (Nature’s Path is one of my favorites)!
- Oatmeal with Milk and Cinnamon
There’s nothing better than a warm bowl of oatmeal to get your kids cozy and ready for bed. A small bowl of oatmeal can be a great snack that balances blood sugar levels. It’s a completely customizable bedtime snack for kids – add nuts, fruits, or even peanut butter if desired.
- Oat Muffin with a Glass of Milk
Oat muffins are an excellent bedtime snack for kids. They are high in fiber, which helps with digestion and promoting feelings of fullness without disrupting sleep patterns. Add a small cup of milk for some extra protein!
Try this Banana Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin recipe from my blog!
- Fruit Smoothie
Smoothies can make a great bedtime snack for kids! You can customize them with any fruit, dairy product, or dairy alternative that your child prefers. Smoothies are not only easy to prepare, but are also packed with nutrition.
Check out my blog post for 13 Healthy Smoothie Ideas for kids, specially tailored to picky eaters with neurodivergence.
- Ants on a Log
Not only is this bedtime snack for kids nutritious, it also adds an element of fun to the bedtime routine. Use celery sticks to represent the “log”, fill with peanut butter or cream cheese, and top with a few raisins for the “ants”!
- Trail Mix
Trail mix is an easy and highly customizable bedtime snack for kids that provides a balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbs to keep your child satisfied throughout the night. Just combine some nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and even a few chocolate chips in a bowl and enjoy.
Check out this recipe for a nut free version!
- Apples and Nut Butter
Slice an apple and pair it with a spoonful of nut butter for an excellent healthy bedtime snack for kids. The apple has fiber while the nut butter has healthy fats, helping your little one feel satiated without experiencing a blood sugar spike.
- Half of a Sandwich
Who says sandwiches are only for meals? A half a sandwich can be a great healthy bedtime snack for kids. For optimal nutritional value, be sure to use whole grain bread and choose a protein for a sandwich filling such as cheese, egg, or tuna. You can also fill it with your child’s favorite veggies for extra fiber and staying power!
These banana boats are an easy, fun, and nutritious bedtime snack for kids. Preparation is simple: Peel a banana, slice it down the middle, spread both slices with nut butter, and top with berries and/or shredded coconut. To make this allergen friendly, feel free to replace the peanut butter with Wow Butter!
Bedtime Snacks for Kids: Easy Packaged Snack Ideas
- Cheese Sticks
- Hard Boiled Egg
- Yogurt Cup
- Granola Bar (such as Made Good bars)
- Unsweetened Applesauce Pouch
Follow these tips and snack ideas to make bedtime easy for you and your kids. Here is a quick summary of how to incorporate snacks before bedtime:
- Recognize your kids hunger cues
- Establish a regular snack time
- Create a snack menu plan
- Choose a calming location
Bedtime snacks for kids should be a combination of healthy carbs and protein. Avoid sugary options and instead choose nutritious foods like carrots, whole-grain crackers, bananas or high fiber cereal.
By incorporating these simple and nutritious snack ideas, we hope your kids will be drifting off to dreamland in no time. Happy snacking!
Thank you for joining us with our discussion on Bedtime Snacks for Kids. We hope you learned some valuable information suitable to you or your kids.
What is your go-to bedtime snack? Please share below!
Looking for more pediatric blog posts?
- Vitamins for picky eaters
- Smoothies for picky eaters
- Gifts for autistic children
- Top 5 reasons you need an ADHD nutritionist
- Top 5 reasons you need an autism nutritionist
- 15 School Breakfast Ideas for Kids
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Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Is It Bad to Eat Before Bed? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-eating-before-bed-bad-for-you/
Healthy Gluten-Free Family. (n.d.). Our Favorite Nut-free Trail Mix. https://www.healthygffamily.com/recipe/favorite-nut-free-trail-mix/
Hunter, W. (2016). Do Bedtime Snacks Help Kids Sleep? http://babyscience.info/bedtime-snacks/
Schmidt, C. (n.d.). Normal Blood Sugar Levels Before Bed. Retrieved July 4, 2023, from https://www.signos.com/blog/blood-sugar-bedtime
Serbinski, K. (2021, May 10). Frozen Yogurt Blueberry Bites – Mom to Mom Nutrition. https://momtomomnutrition.com/food-and-recipes/frozen-yogurt-covered-blueberries/.
Sleep Foundation. (2023). Is It Bad To Eat Before Bed? https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/is-it-bad-to-eat-before-bed
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St-Onge, M.-P., Mikic, A., & Pietrolungo, C. E. (2016). Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition, 7(5), 938–949. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.012336 Team, M. C. A. B. (2016, May 12).
The Simple Veganista. (n.d.). Quick & Healthy Banana Boats. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://simple-veganista.com/banana-boats/
Tinsley, G. & Gotter, A. (2021). What Is Tryptophan? Uses, Benefits, and Foods. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/tryptophan
Hello! I’m Sophia, a passionate and enthusiastic Food & Nutrition Master’s student. I have recently completed my undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science in Food & Nutrition. When I’m not immersed in my studies, you can often find me in the kitchen baking cakes or crafting homemade pasta. I believe that a balanced lifestyle is key, one that embraces both the indulgence of eating cake and pasta, as well as incorporating nutrient-rich foods. Through this blog, I aim to share my knowledge and discoveries in nutrition, empowering others to make informed choices and embrace a balanced approach to food and life.
Jackie is a Toronto-based Registered Dietitian whose mission is to empower and support the neurodivergent and physically disabled communities through nutrition. Jackie runs a virtual private practice and blog which has simple recipes and health information tailored to these communities. She loves cooking, exercising, traveling, journaling, and spending time with family and friends.