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Foods To Help Baby Sleep Through The Night

Foods To Help Baby Sleep Through The Night

Any parent of a baby or toddler longs for their baby to be a sleepy angel and sleep through the night.  Frantic google searches in the small hours ask, “how can I help my baby settle to sleep” or “sleep tips for toddlers”.  In this article, we take a close look at foods that can help your baby sleep through the night.  We’ll look at tips that can support quality sleep for your baby and for you, and we’ll be discussing tasty mealtime options that are a win-win when it comes to helping your baby to sleep through the night.

So What Foods Will Help My Toddler Sleep?

Generally speaking, look for foods that are high in melatonin which helps to control the body’s circadian rhythm, vitamin B6 which helps brain produce melatonin, tryptophan and vitamin C which helps to produce serotonin and melatonin. Also foods rich in potassium and magnesium.

 

List Of Sleep Inducing Foods To Help Your Child Sleep:

  • Tart cherries and tart cherry juice

  • Banana, Pineapple, Kiwi, Figs, Oranges

  • Avocado, tomatoes

  • Broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn

  • Kale, spinach, lettuce

  • Soybeans (edamame)

  • Milk, Natural unsweetened yoghurt

  • Eggs

  • Poultry

  • fatty fish

  • Walnuts, pistachios and. cashews

  • Oats and wheat

  • Rice, beans, lentils

  • sweet potatoes, butternut squash

blog photos with alt text 11

What Should Breastfeeding Mum Eat To Help Baby Sleep?

Many Mums choose to breastfeed their baby, and in doing so, you can ensure your breast milk is rich in sleep supporting foods.  Nutrients in foods that Mum’s eat pass through into breastmilk.  Breastfeeding Mums should avoid excess stimulants in their diet, such as caffeine, artificial additives and sugar if they are serious about foods to help baby sleep through the night.  Likewise, eating foods that are rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, can be a smart choice for breastfeeding Mums who want to support their baby’s sleep.  So what should breastfeeding mum eat? Tryptophan is found in a range of foods such as turkey, eggs, wheat and oats, soy products, bananas and green leafy vegetables.  All these foods contain tryptophan which supports the production of the hormone melatonin to regulate sleep.

blog photos with alt text 12

Weaning And Foods To Help Baby Sleep Well

As your baby begins to wean at about 6-months of age, you can introduce foods that help baby to sleep through the night.  Aim for foods that are nutritious and easy to digest, and steer clear of stimulants such as caffeine and artificial additives.  Many parents don’t realise that chocolate can contain caffeine, so it’s wise to limit your baby or toddler’s consumption of this sweet treat.

Foods that support sleep for babies and toddlers include those rich in tryptophan as listed above.  You can get creative and introduce shredded turkey into soups and broths for your baby.  Scrambled eggs with small amounts of Spanish wilted down makes a great sleep supporting dinner and its easy to bake simple oat-based cookies sweetened with mashed banana.

In addition, consider slower burning carbohydrates as a smart choice so that nutrients are absorbed at a slower rate.  Oats, sweet potatoes, rice and butternut squash all contain complex carbsFoods rich in B-vitamins also support sleep. Beans, lentils, broccoli, avocados and bananas help your child to produce the calming and relaxing hormones of serotonin and magnesium.

Leading children’s food expert, Annabel Karmel, has some fantastic sleep supporting recipes that you and your baby can enjoy as part of a healthy diet.  The BBC Good Food website lists a range of healthy recipes that include many of the foods listed above, including meal ideas that are suited for baby-led weaning and toddlers.  Aim to cook up a storm for you and your baby in order to make the most of foods that help baby sleep through the night.

A bedtime milk feed for babies and toddlers continues to be an important source of nutrition for your child.  A small warm bottle of milk, or a breastfeed prior to sleep night can have a soothing effect that helps baby sleep through the night.

    girl eating broccoli

    Mealtimes That Help Baby Sleep Through The Night, What Is The Suggested Time To Eat Dinner?

    You’ll know yourself that trying to settle to sleep on a full stomach after a large meal is uncomfortable and unlikely to result in settled sleep.  You baby will benefit from well-timed meals to support them sleep through the night.  A large meal immediately before bed raises your baby’s metabolic rate and body temperature. This can make it harder to settle to sleep.  Aim that the evening meal for babies that are weaning is given around 1 ½ hours before bedtime.  That leaves enough time for awake activity and bath time, and then a final milk feed which will all help with your baby’s sleep.

    In Summary:

    So, to help your baby sleep through the night, aim to build the following tips into your baby’s routine today

    • Avoid foods that will ruin your child’s sleep. If you are breastfeeding, avoid caffeine and artificial additives.

    • Eat foods rich in tryptophan

    • Avoid giving babies that are weaning caffeine and artificial additives.

    • Sleep supporting foods for babies that are weaning include foods rich in tryptophan, B-vitamins and complex carbohydrates.

    • Allow time for your baby to digest their evening meal before bed.

    • A warm milk drink or breastfeed immediately before bed can help your baby to sleep well.

    references:

     Friedman M. (2018). Analysis, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Tryptophan. International journal of tryptophan research: IJTR, 11, 1178646918802282. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178646918802282

     Tardy, A. L., Pouteau, E., Marquez, D., Yilmaz, C., & Scholey, A. (2020). Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients, 12(1), 228. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010228

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      Will My Baby Sleep Better If I Give Them A Bottle?

      Will My Baby Sleep Better If I Give Them A Bottle?

      You may have been advised by a sleep coach, maternity nurse or any other infant sleep specialists to top up the bedtime breastfeed with formula or give a larger formula feed.

      Well, Let Me Tell You, None Of This Advice Is Based On Evidence!

      There will always be someone who claims that one of these strategies was a miracle cure for their baby’s sleep, but in general, the large studies have not found that this will make a huge difference to the way your baby sleeps. Despite what older relatives may tell you, it is a myth that feeding a baby a larger feed before bed helps them to sleep. You will not meet a reputable Baby Sleep Consultant or find a baby sleep program which will advise you to feed your baby to sleep, which surely speaks volumes in itself.

      This sounds sensible though, doesn’t it? However human digestion doesn’t quite work that way and how quickly your infant will empty their stomach isn’t entirely dependent on how much is consumed in one go.

      The fact is, babies, can’t store up ‘fuel’ to keep themselves going for extra time, hence feeding them more will not make them sleep longer. Some research has even shown that the opposite is true, and the larger the feed volume, the faster the stomach will empty.

      Did You Know That Breastfed Babies Will Drink Approximately The Same Amount Of Milk Over 24 Hours Between The Ages Of 1 To 6 Months?

      Despite what many people still believe, if your baby suddenly starts breastfeeding more often, it has nothing to do with trying to increase your milk supply. If a baby suddenly wants to feed more frequently, this could be due to developmental changes, not just hunger. What will happen is they will likely drink less at each feed if they begin to feed more often. Again, some research suggests that this is to do with the changing milk composition, faster stomach emptying time, or an increased need for comfort. Whatever the reason, it is important to know this, because if the total daily milk volume stays about the same, then giving extra milk on the assumption that your baby is extra hungry will not work.

      baby sleeping happy after a feed

      The Risk Of Overfeeding Your Baby

      Overfeeding is another problem with giving a baby extra milk, often parents ask can you overfeed a baby? And the answer is yes! This can have a negative effect on your milk supply (if you are breastfeeding), but it can also stretch your baby’s stomach, leaving them feeling too full or uncomfortable. Think about what happens to us when we overeat, how do you feel? You likely feel very sleepy, all you will want to do is relax and sleep it off, right? Not to mention feeling uncomfortably full and bloated. But, if you keep doing this, your appetite increases as your stomach stretches. The same can happen with a baby. I have experienced this over and over again. Overfeeding your baby will not stop them waking up, but often this will make them wake up even hungrier. As parents, we certainly don’t want that to happen!

      Too often we are told that the only reasonable excuse for waking up at night is because of a genuine need for food and that the other reasons are unnecessary.

      Parents often believe that the baby wakes up at night mostly because they are hungry, and feeding them is the only way to get them back to sleep. Particularly with breastfed babies as it can be hard to know how to stop breastfeeding throughout the night especially as, in the early stages, the night feeds are so important to milk supply.

      The truth is Babies may wake up for many reasons, such as warmth, connection, comfort or they might be in pain. Yes, feeding will help them to get back to sleep, but we have missed the important message the baby is trying to communicate to us. As parents, we need to recognise the difference between comfort-nursing and hunger.

      I have worked with numerous babies, both breastfed and bottle-fed. Night wakes are usually an indication of something else going wrong, which once identified and dealt with correctly will usually solve the problem fairly quickly.

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      Will My Baby Sleep Better If I Feed them Every 4 Hours?

      Will My Baby Sleep Better If I Feed them Every 4 Hours?

      Should You Only Feed The Baby Every 4 Hours?

      I am sure you have heard this before: “If You Feed Your Baby Every 4 Hours, They Will Learn How To Sleep Better.” 

      This comes from the idea that babies only wake up due to hunger and making sure they are ‘not just feeding for comfort’, will make them sleep better.

      There are a couple of reasons why people might think why this would work is

      • The baby is feeding for comfort, and this is unnecessary.

      • The baby must be taught to only feed when they are actually hungry.

      If the baby is actually waking up hungry, then feeding them less isn’t simply going to work. They will initially just cry for the whole time until they get fed.  (Yes this will stop at some point, they will give up on crying – they will give up letting you know their needs). When it comes to feeding your baby, they are going to be exhausted from crying, and they might not even finish their feed. They will ‘crash out’, their cortisol levels (stress hormone) will be very high and they will most probably struggle to stay asleep past their first sleep cycle.

      If they not hungry and feeding for comfort, then we will need to figure out other ways to comfort them, because the need for comfort isn’t just going to go away if we start feeding them every 4 hours.

      Yes, you could ignore their need, but that might not be such a good idea later on. This is why:

      Some babies have a very small appetite and if you feed them less often, you risk them not being able to get enough calories during a 24h period. You are risking them getting dehydrated and getting sick very quickly.

      If the baby is bottle-fed this might stretch their tummies, which might impact their appetite regulations later on.

      If the baby is breastfed, this strategy is risky because it assumes that:

      • The breast always makes the same amount of milk each time, which they DON’T.

      • You can control how much milk a baby drinks in one feed, which you CAN’T.

      • The mother can store larger amounts of milk necessary for less frequent feeds, which is not always possible.

      asian baby girl sitting on gras drinking her formula milk from a bottle

      To summarise this, babies feed frequently for many reasons.

      Just because they might settle better after the feed doesn’t mean that hunger was why it was appropriate to feed them. Feeding and hunger are not always the same thing. We’ve come to think about this with an adult mentality of equating comfort-feeding with over-eating. But while eating too much food isn’t a good idea, it’s not really a principle that can be applied to long breastfed infants, as there are many complex mechanisms to regulate and control milk intake and appetite in a breastfed baby.

      It is more possible to over-feed a formula-fed baby, but as long as you keep an eye on the total daily volume, you still don’t need to worry about it too much.

      This theory is really old fashioned, so please feed your baby if they hungry, don’t let them wait for 4 hours. You can still keep you baby in a lovely relaxed routine without too much interruption to their natural needs. If you stuck or confused, book a free call with me, I will surely help you to work out the right routine for your baby.

      references: Lets talk about your new family’s sleep, Lindsey Hookway, 2020

      So To Answer Your Question Is NO, Your Will Not Necessarily Teach Your Baby To Sleep Better, If You Feed Them Every 4 Hours, This Will Not Solve Your Baby’s Sleep Problems.

      Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


      For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
       1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.

      Halloween Sleepy Food Ideas To Get Your Children Sleeping Well

      Halloween Sleepy Food Ideas To Get Your Children Sleeping Well

      As Halloween approaches, parents everywhere may be wondering how with all the Halloween Treats they can still trick their little one into going to bed at a reasonable time.

      Whilst planning earlier Halloween activities such as an afternoon Halloween party instead of a nighttime chocolate feast is a good idea if you’ve got little ones – this isn’t always possible, especially if your toddler has older siblings. We have listed some of our favourite sleep-inducing foods but with a spooky twist to let the kids join in the fun (but until a reasonable time!).

      The important thing is to have fun like one night of sugar-fuelled sleep issues won’t affect your routine as long as you pick it up the next day.
      The recipes below include foods that increase the production of sleep-inducing hormones. You can read more about these on our Foods and the full list of foods that Promote Sleep Blog here.

       

      Now, onto our spooktacular Sleepy Halloween Treats:

      halloween pancakes sleepy food to help kids sleep

      Spooky Sleepy Banana Pancakes

      Our banana and oat pancakes are a spooktacular way to include melatonin in your little one’s meal. The most important thing to remember is that – pancakes aren’t just for breakfast! These make a great, healthy dessert or Halloween treat. They can be whipped up easily within 15 minutes by an adult or it’s a great task to include your baby or toddler in as a messy play or learning experience – depending on their age!

      Ingredients (to make enough for 1 adult and 1 little!):

      • 2 ripe bananas

      • 2 Eggs

      • 8 TBSP or ½ Cup of rolled oats

      • ½ TSP baking powder

      • Cherries as a melatonin rich addition (optional)

      • Cherry jam to drizzle (optional)

        Treat Tip: If your child is a little older, consider whether to use chocolate chips as the ‘eyes’ of the ghost – but don’t forget your cherries for the mouth and drizzle to keep that sleepy secret sauce!

      Method:

      • Mash up the bananas in a bowl with either a fruit masher or the back of a fork.
        Tip: This is a great part for your little one to help with.
      • Whisk the 2 eggs together and add to your bananas. Continue to mix well until they have formed one mixture.
        Tip: If you’re trying to be quick then you can add all the ingredients to a blender or hand blend!
      • Heat up your pan with a little oil on a medium high heat.
      • Add the rolled oats and the baking powder, mix well and then stand for a few minutes minutes to thicken.
      • Turn the pan to a medium heat and ladle/spoon the pancake mixture into the pan. Try to make some ghoulish shapes!
      • Cook for few minutes on medium heat.
      • Flip the pancakes and cook for a further few minutes.
      • Serve up, don’t forget to get creative with the fruit, jam, dessert sauce, chocolate chips or whatever you and your family are using.

      Let us know how it goes with a photo in the comments!

      halloween green smoothie food to help child sleep

      Green Sleeping Potion Smoothie

      This one is a super easy win and filled with fantastic nutrients! If your little one is old enough to participate in some imaginary play you could pretend you are making a magical potion together.

      All you need is:

      1 Banana

      Ice cubes

      A handful of Kale

      1 ripe Avocado

      Fresh orange juice (add to correct consistency)

      Method:

      Put all the ingredients into your magic cauldron (or a blender if you don’t have a cauldron!) and blend until it is a smooth, green consistency. The avocado should make the potion smooth but if it’s too ‘green’ for your children, add some more orange juice.

        healthy ice cream to help child sleep

        Spiderlicious Ice Cream

        • 4 ripe bananas (the riper they are, they sweeter they will be) cut into round slices, frozen.

        • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk

        • 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach or to taste

        Blend together the coconut milk / unsweetened almond milk and the baby spinach.

        Once your have the spinach-puree, add the frozen bananas in and blend again until it reaches the desired consistency.

        Enjoy immediately or put into a loaf tin or similar, tightly sealed and into the freezer.

          edamame dip sleepy food for halloween to help kids sleep

          Edamame Dip With Carrot Sticks

          12 oz edamame frozen or fresh, shelled

          1 lemon just the juice

          1 clove garlic

          1/4 tsp cumin ground

          1/4 tsp black pepper

          1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

          Method:

          • Fill a saucepan with boiling water. Add frozen edamame to the water and boil for 4-5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
          • In the bowl of a food processor, add edamame, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Turn on the machine and process for 2 minutes.
          • Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and turn machine on again.  With the machine still running, slowly stream in olive oil through the feed tube. Check for consistency and seasoning.
          • You may top with a bit more olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling paprika if desired. Serve alongside fresh veggies, slices of pitta bread, breadsticks or some tortilla crisps for older children.
          turkey meatballs with halloween pumpkin

          Turkey Meatballs That Will Make Your Child Sleep

          • ground turkey

          • rolled oats

          • onion powder

          • garlic powder

          • dried parsley

          • dried basil

          • dried oregano

          • salt

          • pepper

          • egg

          Method:

          Preheat oven at 400F (200 C) or pop then in air fryer for 20 minutes.

          Mix all the ingredients together and shape them mixture into balls.

          Place them on a baking tray and bake in preheated oven or fry them in your air fryer.

          You can add grated courgettes to hide some extra veg into you child’s food.

          We hope the recipes above help you have a few Spooky but Sleepy treats this Halloween! Remember, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself to stick to bedtime routines on one off instances like these. Whilst our sleep routines are important, so are the memories we create together on special occasions. If you’re going to visit family this Halloween and your child will be sleeping elsewhere, don’t forget to check out our blog on How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Whilst Travelling.

          Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.


          For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
           1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.