Calming Foods for Toddlers

by Eliza Martinez, Demand Media Google
    Your toddler probably doesn't stop moving for long.

    Your toddler probably doesn't stop moving for long.

    As the mom of a toddler, you probably spend a good deal of your time in a whirlwind of activity. You might be exhausted at the end of the day while your little one is still bouncing off the walls. It can be difficult to get a toddler to settle down and relax at bedtime, nap time or when you just need a break. Certain foods can help calm your toddler and maybe even get her to sleep before you crash.


    Tryptophan is a brain chemical that helps induce sleepiness by aiding in the production of serotonin and melatonin, according to Turkey is one food that contains tryptophan, which is part of the reason why Thanksgiving dinner makes you drowsy. Offer your toddler a few ounces of sliced turkey if he's wound up as sleep or quiet time approaches. Milk, cheese and peanut butter are additional sources that most toddlers are willing to eat. Include them at lunchtime to aid in calming for a nap and as a bedtime snack to help fight the sleep-time battle.


    Yes, carbs give your toddler's body energy, so you might wonder why in the world you'd give them to her if she needs to calm down. In small doses, carbs make tryptophan more available to your little one's brain, according to Combine the two for optimal calming benefits. Carbs are available in crackers, bread, pasta and oatmeal. Serve your toddler crackers or toast smeared with peanut butter or topped with sliced cheese. Cook up a bowl of oatmeal and cool it with a spoonful of yogurt, or serve pasta with a bit of shredded turkey.

    Sweet Stuff

    Giving your toddler a cookie or two when you want her to calm down might backfire. Sugary foods are a recipe for disaster because they alter your toddler's blood sugar levels, writes nutritionist Lilian Presti in the article "Foods to Help Toddlers Sleep" on When blood sugar crashes, the body responds by releasing stress hormones, which could interfere with sleep. If your little one enjoys a sweet treat before nap time or bedtime, offer fruit instead. It contains carbs to calm and natural sugars to satisfy her sweet tooth.

    Calcium and Magnesium

    Calcium and magnesium are nutrients that can subdue your wild and crazy toddler and are important for her health. These minerals calm the nervous system and help your toddler sleep, according to Presti. Dairy foods are a good source of calcium and also contain tryptophan. A glass of milk or cup of yogurt are yummy options. Magnesium is found in seeds, nuts and green vegetables. Offer vegetables at lunch and dinner to induce a sense of calm when it's time to sleep. Provided your toddler isn't at risk of a food allergy, finely chopped nuts on oatmeal or yogurt make a good calming snack.

    About the Author

    Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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