Updated: May 20
Are you exhausted because your baby is not sleeping well? Believe it or not but the reason for your little one not sleeping can be found on your child’s plate. What your little one eats on a daily basis plays an important role in regards to how they sleep.
While a cup of warm milk before bedtime certainly helps, what your little one eats throughout the day is just as important. Not only is it important to ensure that your baby’s calorie requirements are met during the day to help with fewer wakings overnight, but it is also very important to ensure that your little one eats right to help with better sleep.
The amino acid tryptophan plays an important role in healthy sleep. It is essential for the production of serotonin which has a positive impact on mood, energy levels, and sleep as it is the neurotransmitter that helps us to be calm. While serotonin can be produced by our bodies tryptophan cannot and needs to be added through our diet. Tryptophan can be found in foods that are high in protein and some of the best sources are:
To ensure these foods help in making your little one sleepy, they need to be combined with complex carbohydrates. So it is a good idea to plate up some healthy carbs such as oats, sweet potato, quinoa, wholegrain pasta, bread, and rice. Some great dinner ideas for your child are pasta with Parmesan cheese, scrambled eggs with cheese, and tofu stir-fry.
Iron helps the body to consolidate sleep and helps your little one to sleep longer overall. So serve up lots of:
Magnesium calms the nervous system and is a natural muscle relaxant. Foods high in magnesium are avocado, banana, brown rice, and lentils.
Omega 3 contributes to your little one's brain health and aids quality sleep so ensure you serve up lots of fatty fish (salmon, tuna), nuts, and seeds.
And the winner is? Calcium! According to Dr. Sears ‘Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin’. So be sure to include lots of calcium-rich foods (milk, yogurt, cheese) in your child’s diet as well.
It is also important not to offer solids too close to bedtime as your baby will be busy digesting food which can disrupt their sleep. Also be wary of offering too much fruit or meat protein at night as this can also disrupt night sleep.
Not sure whether your baby's or toddler's sleep issue is related to solids? Book in for a free 15 min chat here for more help.