Tips for Successful Bedtime Snacks

By: Kristen Yarker ‌‌‌

Here’s the scenario: Less than an hour ago, your child barely ate any dinner. Now, they’re eating a huge bedtime snack. If this rings true, you’ll want to read on.

First, I want to let you know that you aren’t alone. Parents contact me all the time asking about bedtime snacks. Many parents are in the same situation. They’re wondering whether they should be offering their children a bedtime snack. Or, if there’s any point in making dinner since no one is eating it.

The truth about bedtime snacks is that you can either offer it or not. But to be successful, you must be consistent.

Often I see families only offering bedtime snacks when their picky eater doesn’t eat well at dinner. This backfires. Kids quickly figure out that if they don’t eat at dinner (where they usually are presented with more challenging foods such as vegetables), they can get a bedtime snack only a short while later that includes favourite foods.

Unfortunately, you’re reinforcing the behaviour that you don’t want. You’re inadvertently rewarding kids for not eating their dinner.

Instead, make a new family rule – choose either:

  1. There is always a bedtime snack
  2. There is never a bedtime snack

If you choose to never have bedtime snacks, kids will quickly learn that if they choose to not eat at dinner, they’ll need to wait until breakfast the next day to eat again.

If you choose that there is always a bedtime snack, make sure that there is at least 1 hour between dinner and bedtime snack.  At bedtime snack offer foods from 2 – 4 food groups. Sometimes choose to offer favourite foods. And, sometimes choose to offer a challenging food.

Oh, and one more tip: Brush teeth after bedtime snack.

‌‌About Kristen

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Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps moms and dads support your picky kids to get good nutrition today, and instill a lifelong love of healthy eating.
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