Kids health

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

The dreaded request for a bedtime snack isn't so scary with these simple snacks. They'll fill kiddo up—and help them stay asleep.

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

As a parent, you know this struggle all too well: your little one is finally tucked in bed and suddenly they're voracious. "I'm hungry!" they whine and you're faced with a dilemma. You want to satisfy their rumbling tummy, but you also don't want this bedtime snack battle to continue night after night.

Fear not, fellow parents. We've asked registered dietitian Jen House, MSc, RD, to recommend the best bedtime snacks for kids that will not only curb their hunger but also promote better sleep. Say goodbye to those late-night negotiations and hello to peaceful slumber for the whole family.

Foods That Are Good for Sleep

House suggests that the best bedtime snacks for kids are those packed with nutrients that aid in sleep. By giving your kids the right snacks, you may even help improve their sleep quality.

"These include foods like tart cherries, bananas, walnuts and bell peppers, which are all high in melatonin," she explains. "Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep."

House also advises looking for foods containing tryptophan, an amino acid essential for melatonin production. "Good sources of tryptophan include eggs, dairy and nuts," she says.

Studies also show that magnesium can enhance sleep quality. Nuts, seeds, edamame (soybeans) and dairy are rich in magnesium. "With this in mind, some great bedtime snack options could be a warm glass of milk with a boiled egg, yogurt topped with sunflower, chia or pumpkin seeds, edamame or cheese," House suggests.

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

Foods to Avoid Before Bed

It might be tempting to offer your child some prepackaged sweets before bedtime, but House advises against it. She explains that these treats can contain artificial food colourings, which may cause hyperactivity in some kids.


Spicy and acidic foods are also on the list of things to avoid before bed. House says, "Spicy or acidic foods can lead to reflux, which is more common when lying down. If your child is prone to reflux, avoid giving them citrus, tomatoes or spicy foods before tucking them in."

While we're obviously not giving our kids coffee before bed (or any time), it's easy to forget that chocolate and non-herbal tea can also extend bedtime long into the night. "These foods can keep your child awake, which is counterproductive if you're trying to help them sleep," House says.

How to Prevent Bedtime Snack Battles

House says that providing your child with a tasty snack before they've brushed their teeth and put on pyjamas offers several advantages.

"Introducing a bedtime snack as part of the early stages of their bedtime routine can be beneficial, especially if a considerable amount of time has elapsed since their dinner," she says. "It serves as another chance to provide them with the calories and nutrients they might have refused during the main course of their meal."


However, she cautions against using the bedtime snack as a way to serve previously rejected dinner items, explaining, "I suggest avoiding this strategy unless your child genuinely wasn't hungry during dinner and is willing to eat the food a few hours later. It's best to steer clear of power struggles over food, as no one truly wins."

House also addresses the common issue of children claiming hunger at bedtime, even after having had the chance to eat recently. "It's likely a delay tactic," she clarifies. "Children rarely wake up hungry in the middle of the night, though this is a common parental concern. In such cases, I've offered a piece of cheese in the past. It won't cause cavities, but it can satisfy any genuine hunger without necessitating a return to the kitchen or additional tooth brushing."

Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

To provide the best bedtime snacks for kids, House suggests offering a mix of two food groups for balance. She also advises, "Avoid making snacks their favourite foods, or they might skip dinner."

Oatmeal With Nuts, Seeds and Milk

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids


Packed with sleep-promoting nutrients, this delectable and nourishing bedtime treat is both satisfying and sweet.

"Oatmeal with chia seeds and milk contains a complex carbohydrate in the oats, chia seeds or nuts for tryptophan, fibre and omega-3 fats, and milk for calcium and magnesium," says House.

Toast With Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) and Banana Slices

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

You really can't go wrong with this crowd-pleaser. Few kids will turn it down and it's packed with nutrients that help promote sleep.

'This is a straightforward snack featuring three food groups," House explains. "It also contains magnesium- and tryptophan-rich peanut butter."

Yogurt Parfait With Berries and Pumpkin Seeds

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Kids

According to House, this snack offers a well-rounded nutritional profile.

"The yogurt contributes calcium and protein, while the berries provide phytochemicals and fibre," she says. "Additionally, the seeds are a source of protein, potentially including tryptophan and magnesium, which may promote better sleep."


1. When is the best time for kids to eat before bed?  House recommends giving your kids a snack approximately 30 minutes to an hour before their bedtime. Additionally, she advises timing snacks strategically between meals and tooth brushing. "After eating, the mouth experiences heightened acidity levels for around 20 minutes. During this period, teeth can become more sensitive." So even your kid goes to bed quite early, wait at least 30 minutes after dinner before offering a bedtime snack.

2. How can you make the best bedtime snacks for kids who are picky eaters? You can make bedtime snacks fun without much effor. "My kids love face shapes on the plate with food: cheese strings can be hair, half grapes can be eyes, and Cheerios can be a mouth," says House.


3. Is it better to mix up your bedtime snack routine or stick to one? The same snack every night is fine. However, House says you'll want to make sure there are at least two food groups in whatever you offer.

4. What role do complex carbs play in choosing the bedtime snacks for kids?  Carbohydrates with fibre, known as complex carbohydrates, help maintain stable blood sugar levels for an extended period compared to simple carbohydrates that contain sugar. According to House, "Incorporating some fat and protein into the diet will also contribute to a prolonged feeling of fullness." She further elaborates, "This could be advantageous if our child wakes up hungry during the night."


  • Jen House, MSc, RD, a registered dietitian
This article was originally published on Jun 07, 2024

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Courtney Leiva has over 11 years of experience producing content for numerous digital mediums, including features, breaking news stories, e-commerce buying guides, trends, and evergreen pieces. Her articles have been featured in HuffPost, Buzzfeed, PEOPLE, and more.