Navigating Sleepytime Snacks for My Child
Managing insomnia as an adult is hard enough, and trying to help children manage this is equally challenging. There is still so much of them that is growing and developing we cannot possibly expect them to manage all of these things. We are, after all, here as parents to guide them through life and all the challenges that come with it.
Teaching children who struggle with sleep, and healthy sleep hygiene is among the things that we can do to help them. We can teach them good habits and hope this will serve them well in the future.
The last thing you want to do is teach a child to use food as a crutch. However, in my experience with my daughter, a good bedtime snack can make a difference.
Making space for healthy bedtime snacks
In my experience, kids often use a snack before bed as an excuse not to go to sleep. However, sometimes it can be helpful in an attempt to induce better sleep. In our home, we keep our evening meal light and save space so that we can fit a bedtime snack in. Learn to tell the difference and when it is done, let it be done.
Certain snacks or meals before bed can impact the way that my daughter sleeps. If she has had a good snack, she does not wake up in the middle of the night for an actual midnight snack. A midnight snack means that she will eat anything she gets her hands on if she is hungry.
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Choosing the right snacks
This is what works for us in our family. Maybe it can be adjusted to meet your needs!
The no-no list
Red meat induces nightmares for my daughter, while this may not be the same for everyone. It is worth keeping this in mind. This can leave her waking up exhausted and emotionally drained. Her nightmares are vivid and very scary. So there is no heavy meat for late dinners, we leave that for lunch and make dinners a lighter meal.
One would think that avoiding sugar speaks for itself. It was a habit for the longest time to have a nutritious dinner and then round it off with a sweet treat or pudding. We no longer do that and rather have it mid-afternoon. These small changes have certainly helped in the long run.
Some teas, and warm drinks along with soda contain caffeine that you may not even know is there, this has a a distinct effect on my child's sleep. Be sure to check the labels, as I have found that there are often "healthy" drinks with hidden stimulants in them. This could differ for neurodivergent children, so please check with their healthcare provider about this.
The yes list
Warm milk - I make a small mug, only one mug though even though she is often begging for more. Otherwise, she will need extra bathroom breaks during the night. Which in itself is a disturbance. By adding a drop of honey and some nutmeg there is a warm drink that promotes good sleep for her. Oftentimes, she will not want the milk, so we then opt for a sleepy-time tea instead. Our favorite is Melisa balm tea.
For a warm bowl of oatmeal, you can add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a touch of honey. This is by far one of my personal favorites and one that I will gladly make for myself too. A slice of whole wheat toast with sugar-free peanut butter or a slice of toast with cheese.
I find that all these snacks are satisfying in all the right ways and promote good sleep for my daughter. I do try and stay away from prepackaged snacks and rather opt for an ingredients snack - something easily made from scratch, with no convenience food.
Finding what works
Trying to manage sleep for someone else can be tricky, and frustrating at times.
Stick it out, be patient, and keep trying things until you find what works for you and your child. You have got this!
Who in your life has also experienced insomnia?
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