The Way to Toddler Sleep is... Through the Stomach?

Tryptophan isn’t just for Thanksgiving anymore!

Edward Danyo


You know that feeling you get after eating that warm wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings? Ah, that comfortable sleepy time feeling that makes the couch look soft and inviting and makes your eyelids heavy as you are taking your last bite. Well, you may be able to create that same sleepy effect with your little one to help them sleep better and even longer! Nutritionist, Ilyse Schapiro, RD, and Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD., author of Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor’s 5-Step Guide have written about a surprising number of foods that might just work magic by bedtime.

“By making a snack a part of your routine, you eliminate your child stalling bedtime by saying they are hungry.”

Romper spoke with Schapiro and Dr. Schneeberg, and identified the following types of foods that may help you toddler drift off to dreamland more quickly:

  1. Meat, Poultry, Fish & Eggs
  2. Whole Grains
  3. Almonds, Oats & Cherries
  4. Fatty Fish
  5. Dairy Products
  6. Certain Nuts, Seeds & Beans

For a full list of sleepy time food items, check out the full article on Romper.

toddler sleep

With that being said, there are foods that you should definitely avoid…”tea, coffee, soda, energy drinks and dark chocolate are the main culprit,” says Schneeberg. Schapiro adds that 75% of children consume caffeine (in some form) EVERY DAY! Try to eliminate caffeine at dinner to prevent any unnecessary stimulation. 

Schneeberg also suggests a nutritious snack as part of your standard bedtime routine! By making it a part of your routine, you eliminate your child stalling bedtime by saying they are hungry. Further, you can ceremoniously turn off the kitchen lights and let your child know that “kitchen is closed” for the night!  This is a definitive cue for bedtime.