Let’s Talk About Eating At Bedtime

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I'm typing this post at the Captain's bedtime.  He's eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I refused to make for him, so Daddy made it.  Why did I refuse to make it, you wonder?  I made the kid breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, and served him up three snacks between dinner and bedtime….because he was "so hungry."  Growth spurt?  No, because this happens all the time.  For some reason, him putting on his jammies instantly makes his tummy so empty where he thinks he's going to die of hunger.  He's had plenty to eat today, and he just inhaled the sandwich, so is it just a bedtime compulsive behavior?  I don't think so, because this kid just doesn't eat unless he's hungry.  So what's the solution?

I've read a little bit about how we should all become like the French and have three meals a day, make the kid eat what's served him, and have no snacks so they'll actually be hungry between meals.  Um, yeah.  No.  I applaud anyone who can do this, but I'm not going to deprive my kid food to "train" him to only eat three times a day.  It's cruel, in my opinion.  There are days when I'm hungry between meals so I grab a healthy snack.  Then there are days I'm not hungry between meals, so I don't snack.  Simple as that.  You can't equally plan out your calories and make sure you have enough food on your plate with enough protein and carbs to make sure you're full until X o'clock.  Well, I'm sure you could, but that's just nuts.

So really, what's the solution?  Do I send my kid to bed hungry to break the habit?  Do I offer him something totally unappealing to see if he's really hungry?  Do I overload him with food during the day to see if it makes a difference?  I'd have to FORCE him to eat at those times, which I'm not really a fan of.  I'm just at a loss, so I'm reaching out to all my parents, grandparents, teachers, daycare workers, etc to give me some tips!  How do I avoid the bedtime snack?  Or is it even worth avoiding?  Maybe I should just say "put on your jammies, here's your snack" five minutes before bedtime?  (which I always try to serve him a snack an hour before bedtime, which is where the snacks came tonight….but still after those THREE substantial snacks, he's "STARVING" an hour later!!)  Hmm…..

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Gena is the mom of three boys, ages 7, 5, and 2. She is the wife of a great man, a Christian, blogger, and former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom. They live in the Dallas/ Ft. Worth, Texas area.


  1. Cindy Merrill says:

    I grew up with my grandparents: We often had pancakes or fried cornmeal mush with molasses for supper:( Very economical and filling)  The high carbs made me sleepy and I was more willing to go to bed by 8pm. Give it a try- Macaroni & cheese, Chicken & noodle casserole- any of these options would be just fine.

  2. Alisha Kostiuk says:

    My kids always have to have a snack before bed. I usually give them grapes and yogurt.

  3. Amen! My Belle can eat dinner & then just 2 hours later she wants a smorgusboard of snacks. But personally, she sleeps better when her belly is full. And I think that is all that matters. So we just try to load her up on good eats & applesauce. She's *finally* eating pb&j so snack time may just get a whole lot easier now. LOL

    • haha!  This is true!  I remember when we used to offer him a snack before bed and he'd still wake up at 6 AM for some milk!  Crazy!  Full belly=good sleep!  đź™‚

  4. I always give a snack of popcorn before bed.  Eating more often is better for the body IMO!

  5. I grew up eating only 3 meals, just like the French, and I was never hungry between them. In Mexico dinner is seen as more of a snack before bed time, while lunch (around 2-3pm) is the main meal of the day. I don't think offering no meals would starve anyone…this said, my boys do have snacks between meals (mostly fruit). I think your Captain is simply growing…plus he is a boy, wait until he's a teenager! Then, he will only have one single meal all day (non stop food intake!)

    • I guess it's how you're raised…..and metabolism probably plays into it, too.  My husband only eats two meals a day and maybe one snack and he doesn't starve.  lol  We visited Mexico once for a mission trip and I THOUGHT I was going to starve, waiting so long for dinner!  LOL!  Thanks for your input!

  6. My son is still quite young (under 2) and we're still able to keep him in somewhat of a routine for bedtime (which does involve a small snack and a glass of milk). During the day though, he cries any time he sees anyone eating because he just has to have some of it too. Maybe it's a boy thing…feeling the need to eat all the time! I know my husband sure has that problem. 🙂

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