Are Bed Time Snacks Necessary?

The debate about whether to give bed time snacks can be controversial. Most parents feel strongly about them one way or the other. We won’t tell you there is one right answer, but you can learn from other parents’ experiences. There seems to be three camps, the “no snacks after dinner”, “snacks depending” and “allowing snacks”. Read on to see what parents have to say, hopefully it will help you decide how you want to handle bed time snacks.


No Snacks After Dinner

Rachel P: We eat dinner at about 5:45 and bed time is 6:30 so it's usually immediately after eating that they start getting ready for bed. So no food. They can get drinks of water though, which they all always do. Nancy R: Kitchen is closed after dinner. Julia J: We eat close to bedtime (usually eat at 6 and bedtime stuff starts at 6:30 on bath nights and 7 otherwise) so our rule is more dinner or nothing. We do treats after dinner occasionally but not usually more than once or twice a week.


Snacks Depending

Teri H.: The rule at my house is, that if they eat their dinner and they are still hungry later, they can have a "sweet" snack and anything else. I always worry about the kids growth spurts and I don't want the kids to have eating issues when they get older. However, on the other hand, if they don't eat their dinner and they want food later, they can only have fruits and veggies. My daughter will eat a can of peas and green beans in the same night. Aaron Z: We have the "clean bowl/plate club" at dinner, so if you eat all of your food (or make a good effort), you get dessert and at bedtime you get a snack (if you want, the choices are: a banana, an apple or an orange). If you aren't in the "clean bowl/plate club", no dessert or snack at bedtime.


Allowing Bed Time Snacks

Jill W: We do a bed time snack most nights. It's usually dry cereal or goldfish crackers. If she goes to bed with a full tummy, she sleeps better and we do too. She's too little (18 months) to have the "you should have had more dinner" conversation. Tricia G: We do a snack before bed, usually applesauce, cheese stick, gogurt, any fruit that we have in the house or occasionally a granola bar. Tara H: You can always have an apple when you are hungry in our house. Christy C: Our kids have a bedtime snack. We allow them because our kids don't eat dinner well. I know it probably aggravates the problem but we feel better if they have eaten something before bed. It is usually something healthy. We started them years ago, so now it's not worth it to fight it.


Consistency is Key

Kristin Yarker is a child feeding expert, and she advises parents to be consistent in their decision. “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 your family chooses to never offer snacks before bed, then there aren’t any issues other than the occasional complaining your children may do. There are a few pitfalls if your family chooses to offer bedtime snacks, so here are a few helpful points when offering snacks before bed:

  1. Make sure there is at least 1 hour between dinner and the bedtime snack.
  2. Offer different snacks each night; you can offer foods your child is learning to like instead of always offering foods they already enjoy.
  3. Provide snacks from the food groups that your child may have been deficient on during the day.
We’d love to hear what has worked for your family. Comment below and let us know if bedtime snacks have worked in your house.
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