Tired parents will try almost anything to get baby to sleep for a little longer each night. Could choosing the right food at dinner time be the key to more precious sleep time for little ones and you?
When it comes to getting baby to sleep (and lots of other parenting challenges) it seems like everyone has an opinion to offer. And practically every parent will have heard the old favourite about feeding baby rice to send little one off to sleep with a full tummy.
The problem is that babies are not the same as the rest of us. They have smaller tummies and digest food at a different rate.
All foods provide energy, but some have a more rousing effect than others. The most common examples are caffeine and sugar. Most parents will welcome the energising rush of an early morning coffee and would never dream of giving such stimulating substances to their little ones. But sugar in sweets, fruit juices and chocolate (which can also contain caffeine) could also have babies bouncing around at bedtime.
So what foods should you choose to feed your little one to encourage them to have a more restful night’s sleep?
If your baby is starting to wean off milk and you’re introducing solid foods (from around 6 months onwards), you’re probably already trying a variety of different things, from purees to porridge and rice, finger foods and fruit. The most important thing is to keep food healthy, nutritious and easy for baby to digest.
But there are certain foods that could help your baby sleep sooner and for longer. These include:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, eggs)
- Wheat and oats (found in whole grain cereals and porridge)
- Tofu and soy products
- Chicken and turkey
- Green leafy vegetables
These foods contain tryptophan, a substance that encourages the brain to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Try these easy to digest foods to help your little one get a good night’s sleep:
This wholesome favourite is a healthy choice for babies and adults and it’s light and easy to digest, provided you can get your little one to eat it rather than wear it.
Brown rice is very nutritious for babies and white rice is easy to digest and light on the stomach. Rice pudding is a popular dessert that could help your little one sleep.
Whole grain cereal with milk
Combining diary and cereal will help encourage your baby to naturally produce sleepy hormones.
Turkey and chicken
provided you’re not vegetarian, adding these meats shredded or in soups can be a good way of adding protein to their diet. If they’re confident enough to feed themselves, then let them help themselves to small strips.
Being hungry isn’t the only reason why your baby may rouse from sleep at night, so it’s important to check that they are safe and comfortable when they wake. And while we can’t promise that choosing the right foods at dinner time is the answer to every sleepless night, it may help you and your little one enjoy a few more quiet nights.