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Evening Snacks to Help Soothe & Relax Toddlers

By Susan Revermann ; Updated September 26, 2017
The right evening snack can help send your toddler off to dreamland.

If you are trying to send your toddler to bed with a completely empty stomach, you may end up with a hungry, grumpy child who refuses to sleep. You don’t have to make a large, complex meal to soothe and relax him for bed. Offering him a little sleep-inducing snack an hour or so before bedtime is all you need to send him off to bed content and satisfied.

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The Ask Dr. Sears website lists a few dairy products that can help make your toddler drowsy. Milk, especially if it is warmed up, contains the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. The calcium in milk products further assists the tryptophan in making melatonin, which helps make you sleepy. Cheese sticks, plain Greek yogurt and cottage cheese also fall into this category. Offer some fresh or frozen fruit on the side, and you’re set.


Children rarely complain when you offer them fruit. Bananas are an easy, no-fuss food to give your toddler before bedtime. These tasty fruits contain the muscle-relaxants potassium and magnesium to help relax and calm him. If you don't have bananas handy, you can offer your little guy a serving of applesauce and graham crackers.


Some protein sources contain tryptophan. It’s best to pair a high-protein food with a carbohydrate source to increase the chances of getting your little one to calm down for bed. A half of a turkey or chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread will fill his tummy and leave him satisfied. An egg on half of a whole grain English muffin or a thin layer of nut butter on crackers are good pairings.


Some carbohydrates also contain tryptophan. According to the Ask Dr. Sears website, foods high in complex carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin, which helps remove any substances from the bloodstream that compete with the amino acid. This allows tryptophan to enter the brain and make the soothing and relaxing substances melatonin and serotonin. Whole grains are the way to go, as they take longer to digest than simple carbs and are packed with nutrients. Opt for granola, low-sugar cereal or oatmeal. Whole wheat pita wedges and some hummus make a tasty evening treat.

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