Every parent's security blanket & instruction manual
Q: Sometimes my child doesn't eat dinner and then is hungry at bedtime. This causes nighttime struggles. What should I do?
A: It is important that we teach our children to tune in to their internal physical state and eat when they are hungry and not eat at other times. Your child's stomach doesn't always run by the clock. There shouldn't be a punishment for your child's not being hungry at dinner and then being hungry later.
When in doubt about some of these food decisions, taking the decision to the adult level sometimes clarifies this. We need to afford children the same respect for their listening to their body's food needs as we afford ourselves.
Sometimes when I sit down to dinner I am not hungry, especially if I have been sampling while preparing dinner. If I'm not hungry at dinner and don't eat much, then I may have a snack at bedtime to tide me over until breakfast. This feels respectful of my body's needs and guarantees that I won't wake up in the middle of the night because I am hungry.
It might also defuse any power struggles to establish a bedtime snack ritual.
My children often had the bedtime ritual of Grahams and Milk (milk has tryptophan and encourages sleep). This "breaking of bread at bed" can be sweet together time at the end of the day.
See an expanded answer to this question in the article Food and Your Child: Healthy Attitudes and Harmonious Meals.
©Irene Shere, LLC