How does your baby and toddler's diet affect sleep?
How does your baby and toddler's diet affect sleep?
You may have heard me talk a little bit about my ‘Clean Sleeping Guide’. Well, in today's video, I'm going to be exploring the eating parts of the three Es of Clean Sleeping. I will explain it in a little bit more depth so you can grasp a bit more of an understanding of what it all means and how it impacts sleep.
Okay so let's talk about eating. Now when I'm talking about eating, I'm talking about both milk intake, whether that's breast or bottle, and also food intake for the baby or toddler that is now eating food. For babies who are yet to start on solids, so say from zero to six months, or at least zero to about four - five months, the focus is really on milk intake. The biggest key when it comes to the eating part, and making sure that you're meeting the Clean Sleeping Guides of eating, is to ensure your baby isn't going to sleep hungry. That may seem like a no-brainer however, in our society, there seems to be a real pressure and push for babies to have set feeding times so that they fit into a routine rather than actually feeding them as per their hunger cues or just in a way that makes sure that their tummy is nice and full for sleep.
When I talk to parents before their babies have started solids, I talk about the need to perhaps offer a top up feed prior to sleep. A lot of people try and follow a feed, play, sleep routine which is wonderful and the idea around that is to separate feeding from sleep so the baby doesn’t develop habits where they need to feed to fall asleep. However, it is okay to feed, play, feed, sleep and offer a top off if your baby's hungry or to offer it so that you know that they do have a full stomach before you try to put them to sleep. A hungry baby will resist going to sleep or they won't sleep for very long because their tummies will wake them up. So, making sure that your baby has a nice, full tummy before they're going to sleep can be incredibly important when looking at the whole sleep picture.
Once your baby has started on food, then this adds another element or layer of, I guess, consideration, when it comes to looking at how food and eating impacts on sleep. Prior to introduction of foods, babies have a very immature stomach and they have just been managing either formula or breast milk when it comes to what they're eating and on the whole, for most babies, these are pretty easily digested, especially breast milk. Then we introduce foods which are a lot harder for them to digest. So what we introduce and how quickly we introduce it, can cause an impact on their sleep. It is therefore important to make sure that during the introduction of solids, you are really monitoring the way your baby is tolerating a food. There's a huge emphasis on making sure that your baby doesn't have an allergy to a certain food which is of course incredibly important. But what's less spoken about, or watched for, is just how they cope with a food.
If your baby gets very constipated or bound up by a certain food, that then runs into the fact that at night time they’ll have a stomach ache, be uncomfortable and therefore not settle well. This food, therefore, may need to be avoided for slightly longer or at least decreased in frequency. However, it’s not all challenging, there's a lot of different foods that are ‘pro-sleep’ foods. There’s pro-sleep foods and anti-sleep foods to be aware of.
I have prepared a list of pro-sleep foods and anti-sleep foods for you to download. If you would like to download it, head on over to jenniferbutler.com.au/foodlist to download your free copy. It's a great tool to have so that you know the sorts of food that you should be encouraging in the lead up to bed and the ones that you should be avoiding.
Once your baby has started on solids, the feed, play, sleep continues but with the introduction of a meal within that feed, play, sleep routine. This means that your baby is going to be even more full having had the breast or bottle feed followed by a solids feed, allowing them to settle and sleep thereafter. In saying that, some babies or toddlers may still want a breast feed or a drink of water (whatever they’re used to), prior to sleep. It simply comes down to their basic needs and while that does seem like a really obvious thing to say, we are too often set on giving babies feeds at certain times and not necessarily thinking about it in the bigger picture and how it will impact their sleep. It’s a great reminder to make sure that you are offering your baby, breast fed, bottle fed or those already on solids, something in the lead up to bed so that their tummy is full and they're not going down hungry/thirsty.
So, there you have it. That is a quick summary on the eating part of the three Es of Clean Sleeping. I hope that that's made sense and given you a bit of clarity. I would love for you to let me know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with any of the things that I've said today. Remember to subscribe to my channel and tap the bell so that you're notified when I release my new videos once a fortnight on a Tuesday. I look forward to joining you back here, thank you for watching and I'll see you again soon.
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