We know too much sugar disrupts sleep, but did you know that there are many foods that actually promote more restful sleep? If all parents knew this information, grocery stores wouldn’t be able to keep bananas or cherries in stock. We’ve made a list of some go-to foods to give your little one for dinner or when they need a bedtime snack or drink. (When don’t toddlers want a bedtime snack or drink??)
Milk: An article on Healthline shares some different food and drink options that could improve sleep. First on their list is milk. Research supports that a warm glass of milk before bed improves sleep. Milk contains tryptophan and melatonin; tryptophan promotes relaxation and causes a child to fall asleep faster, and melatonin regulates the sleep/wake cycle. If your toddler doesn’t like milk, cheese, yogurt, or other dairy products are also a good choice for a bedtime snack.
Bananas: Another article titled Being Mindful Of Your Toddler's Diet Can Do Wonders For Bedtime includes some toddler approved snacks to promote sleep, such as bananas. Bananas also contain tryptophan, as well vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and complex carbohydrates. Potassium is a natural muscle relaxer and carbs produce serotonin, which makes you feel calm and drowsy. Slice up a banana and add it to your toddler’s oatmeal, a smoothie, or serve it whole. Bananas are also filling and will keep your little darling full for longer.
Cherries: Who doesn’t love cherries?? According to Cleveland Clinic, dark, sweet, and tart cherries contain the highest levels of melatonin. They are also full of vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, and magnesium. Try cherries in different forms, such as fresh, frozen, dried, or juiced. Beware of cherry pits and choose cherry juice without added sugar.
Spinach: There’s a reason Popeye ate spinach to grow big muscles; spinach is PACKED with minerals, vitamins, and iron. If that isn’t enough to encourage your child to eat it, it's also rich in tryptophan. Again, tryptophan has a calming effect because it turns into serotonin. If your toddler doesn’t love spinach, try blending it into a smoothie or sneaking it in an omelet with turkey. Turkey and eggs also contain sleepy goodness. Breakfast for dinner, anyone?
Oats: Oats are so versatile! You can make your toddler oatmeal with fruit, overnight oats, healthy granola bars, or porridge. Oats are whole grain, gluten free, and a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also help the body naturally produce melatonin. Yes, please!
Add these healthy and sleep promoting foods to your next grocery list and normalize eating them in the evenings. The next time your toddler insists on a bedtime snack, you can enthusiastically offer one of these choices. Then, snuggle them in their cozy günamüna pjs, read a bedtime story, and pat yourself on the back for helping your little one get a peaceful night’s sleep.