Bedtime For Kids With Cancer: Some Tips To Make It Easier

Bedtime can be a struggle for all parents. Baths. Books. One more drink. Can you tuck me in? I have to go potty again. Add in the complicated world of childhood cancer treatment, and it only makes things more difficult.

For 3 years, our son Cooper was on nightly chemotherapy at home, which required him to fast for 2 hours before taking the chemo. He was also taking an array of other medications, such as steroids, breathing treatments, intravenous antibiotics … the list goes on, but you get it. You are no doubt dealing with the same or worse yourself.

And as much as I wish I could be super-mom and tell you I discovered the secret formula to make it all easier, I can’t. All I can do is share with you some real-world workarounds that helped make things a little easier for our family on the tough nights.

Give Him What He’ll Eat

On chemo, things tasted weird to Cooper, and most of the time he didn’t want to eat what we were eating. This made mealtime a struggle.

On nights when I was running behind with supper, it made the mealtime battle even more dreaded. We were feeling the time crunch, so we would try to rush him, which only made him dig his heels in further and refuse to take bites.

bedtime for kids

The “fasting clock” couldn’t start until Cooper had his last bite. So, I would make him whatever sounded good, and we would let him eat before us with the hopes of getting at least some calories in him.

Eat An Extra Early Evening Meal

Sometimes, I made our family meal extra early. We’d sit down to eat by 5 p.m. and then do the whole bath, books, other medicines bedtime routine right after supper. By 7 p.m., Cooper could take his chemo.

This routine was helpful when we were confronted with a variety of evening scheduling dilemmas.

For example, if my husband and I wanted an evening out—but we didn’t want our babysitter to administer chemotherapy to our child—we would use this plan. Then, we could give Cooper his chemo at 7 p.m. right before we left.

The early evening meal was also a life-saver when Cooper had to fast for surgery the next morning. He could take his chemo at 7 p.m. and then eat a bedtime snack at 8 p.m. That way, his blood sugar didn’t drop quite so drastically in the morning while we waited for surgery.

A Family Who Fasts Together Stays Together

There’s nothing worse than watching a movie with your family, and everyone else is munching on popcorn while you fast, so you can take your chemo. So, we joined in Cooper’s fasting.

After supper, none of us ate anything in front of Cooper. If our other son was hungry, we sneaked him a snack out of Cooper’s sight, so we didn’t make it harder on Cooper.

Whether it’s fasting for chemo or trying to time intravenous antibiotics, working your evening schedule around medicine can feel like a balancing act. But, over time, finding ways to take back the control and work the medicine around your life can help.

Jenni DeWitt
I’ve been a cancer mom since February of 2012 when my 2-year-old son, Cooper, was diagnosed with leukemia. I'm excited to connect with you here at Lionfighters and on

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