Foods to Help Your Child Sleep
With thanks to Rhian Mills, Infant Sleep Coach and founder of Rested Mama
Did you know that what we eat can impact how we sleep? Here are some foods to consider to help your baby or child sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone which helps regulate our sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and during the night helping our bodies prepare for sleep. Foods which naturally contain melatonin are cherries, kiwi fruit, and raspberries.
Tryptophan is an amino acid and a precursor to melatonin. Foods that contain tryptophan and are therefore beneficial to sleep are:
- Fruit: bananas, peaches, apples
- Vegetables: spinach and broccoli
- Poultry: turkey, chicken
- Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt, egg
- Fish: tuna, salmon, cod, sardines
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain. I recommend complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, oats, and wholegrain bread, pasta or rice.
Combining all these foods together, here are some of my favourite meal/snack ideas which help to promote sleep:
- Spinach and cheese savoury muffins made with almond milk
- Eggy bread made with wholegrain bread
- Natural yogurt topped with raspberries
- Turkey and broccoli whole-wheat pasta bake
- Cherry cheesecake made with cream cheese and a porridge oat base
- Fish pie using salmon and cod and a mashed sweet potato topping
On the other end of the scale certain foods can inhibit sleep. Foods that are hard to digest or may cause some discomfort for little ones are:
- Foods high in fat
- Refined carbohydrates and sugary foods
- Spicy meals
- Dried fruit
- High protein foods without a complex carbohydrate to balance the meal
Also try to avoid stimulating foods such as tomatoes and aubergine which contain tyramine, and chocolate which contains caffeine.
It’s not only the types of food that your little one eats that you need to be aware of, but also the times at which they eat.
Ideally the last meal of the day should be around 2 hours before baby’s intended bedtime. This allows food to be digested and makes any discomfort less likely. As your baby begins to eat 3 meals a day it’s an idea to keep mealtimes to approximately the same times.
Food is a natural cue to help tell the body what time it is. Eating at approximately the same time each day will help set the natural body clock and consequently lead to a better night’s sleep.
Unfortunately, there are no magic foods that are guaranteed to make children sleep, but introducing your baby to a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet supports a holistic approach to sleep.
About the author
Rhian Mills is an Infant Sleep Coach and mum of two from North Wales. She’s on a mission to help children and their parents get the sleep they need. If you’re having trouble with baby’s bedtime, book a free call with Rhian at https://restedmama.appointlet.com
Disclaimer: The views and advice given in this article are those of the guest writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Weaning Week or any other organisations represented on this platform