Foods That Help Kids Sleep

As moms, we want to make sure our kids have a nutrient-dense diet, but did you know certain foods actually help kids sleep?

And, on the flip side, there are foods to stay away from as you approach bedtime.

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing the best bedtime snacks for little ones and also what foods to stay away from as you get your little one ready for bed.

Foods that help kids sleep

The Science Behind Food and Sleep

So here’s the skinny: Foods that combine protein with carbs work to form amino acids that act like tryptophan, the chemical that makes you sleepy.

(There’s a reason you all want to take a big nap after eating that Thanksgiving dinner! Turkey is rich in tryptophan!)

On the flip side, studies indicate that sugar, flour, and other refined carbohydrates might have the opposite effect.

And before you reach for that sugary juice, consider this:
According to this study, one serving of a glucose-sweetened drink caused adrenaline levels to quadruple in children. The levels didn’t peak until four hours after the beverage was consumed.

Foods That Encourage Sleep in Kids

Here are a few bedtime snack suggestions!

Keep in mind, though, that it takes about an hour for the sleep-inducing chemicals to reach the brain, so be sure to give these snacks well before bedtime. 

  • Bananas contain melatonin, serotonin, and magnesium (a muscle relaxant). 
  • Whole wheat bread with peanut butter or almonds contains both tryptophan and a nice dose of magnesium. 
  • The oats in oatmeal are rich in melatonin. 
  • A slice of turkey on some whole wheat bread is a great sleep-inducing bedtime snack. (This works best on an empty stomach.)

It’s important to remember that food alone will not help your child sleep better. A lot goes into a good night’s sleep!

A good bedtime routine, age-appropriate wake times, and a great sleep environment are important, too!

Related: Creating the Perfect Sleep Environment

Wrapping Up

  • Foods that combine protein with carbs form amino acids that act like tryptophan, the chemical that makes you sleepy.
  • Sugary foods, as well as flour and refined carbohydrates, are not great for sleep.
  • Bananas, whole wheat bread, peanut butter, almonds, and turkey are all great examples of foods that can encourage sleep in kids.

If you’re struggling with helping your little one get the sleep she needs no matter what you feed her, reach out

I offer a variety of sleep packages and guides that can help you teach your little one how to get more sleep!