Bedtime Snacks: Do or Don’t?

by KristenY on December 5, 2013 · 2 comments

Bedtime snacks are one of the most common topics that I’m asked about. Within the last week parents have asked me about them in a presentation, by an in-home service client, even via a post by a follower on my Facebook page. So I thought that it was the perfect topic for today’s blog post.

In short: are bedtime snacks a ‘do’ or a ‘don’t’?

The answer is that either option can work. But, you must make a choice. Do you fall into the trap that I so often I see–only offering a bedtime snack when your picky eater doesn’t eat well at dinner?

This is the ‘don’t’.

It’s a ‘don’t’ because it tends to backfire. Kids quickly figure out that if they don’t eat at dinner (where they are usually presented with more challenging foods), they can get a bedtime snack only a short while later that includes favourite foods. Unfortunately, you’re reinforcing the behavior that you don’t want. You’re inadvertently rewarding your little one 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, your little one 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. And, at bedtime snack offer foods from 2 – 4 food groups. Sometimes choose to offer favourite foods, and sometimes choose to include a challenging food with a favourite food (this way you create an even playing field with dinner).

Oh, and brush teeth after a bedtime snack.

Are you stumped for some snack ideas that include 2 – 4 four food groups? Get 101 Healthy Snack Ideas (That Even Picky Kids Will Eat) at

Known as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids, Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD, through her business Vitamin K Nutrition Consulting, answers the question “How do I get my kids to try new foods?”. Get your (free) copy of 101 Healthy Snack Ideas (that even picky toddlers and preschoolers will eat) at:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Krysta December 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

My kids are asked to sit at the dinner table until they’re done their dinner – even if takes until bed-time. And if they haven’t finished their dinner by bed-time, there is no bed time snack. If they eat their dinner with no issues or complaints, then they usually have some crackers and ice water at story time.

Nikki March 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm

My kids always get a bed time snack, even if supper is not eaten. Now with that said I will not fight about supper, I will just put it away. When they are hungry I will retake out their meal that they did not eat :). I will even give it for breakfast till they eat what I made for them. My kids learned very quickly to just eat what is given if they want their dessert or bedtime snack 🙂 So far 3 girls no issue. Yes my last one is a very picky eater but not anymore.

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