What role does Nutrition play when it comes to your child’s sleep?


By Good Night Consultant

Not as much as you might be thinking.

Very often, when we talk to clients their main concern is that milk, milk supply, solids or the lack thereof, are the causes of their child not sleeping. This is a natural reaction due to the kinds of information new mothers are exposed to.

In hindsight, I am embarrassed to admit, that I was shoving (and I mean, literally: forcefully, SHOVING) rice cereal down my 3 month old’s throat because I was convinced that he was hungry. This was supported by the sage advice of the older generation, who insisted that once I started feeding my solids, he’d magically start sleeping through.

I also tried (with little success) “topping up” my baby’s breastmilk with formula because—as the nurse was telling me—he continued to wake at night because he is NOT receiving sufficient nutrition from me. I was also informed by loving friends and strangers alike that I should change the formula that I’d selected for the young one, because my baby might in fact be lactose intolerant, therefore the current formula was causing him discomfort as it was being processed by the digestive system.

Does any of this sound familiar? With the popularity of this type of ill-advice, it is very easy to fall into the “over-nutrition” trap. Moms, just because you are breastfeeding does not mean your child is not able to sleep through!

What If I told you that only 5% of the cases we deal have their root causes in nutrition challenges!?
It is far more likely that that your baby has not yet developed the skill of soothing him/herself, and therefore nutrition is not the problem.
The fundamental rule to remember is that your baby’s sleep is regulated by his/her brain and not by the stomach.

When nutrition does play a role:

Nevertheless, a hungry baby will not sleep well either; so here is a checklist to use to rule out whether nutrition is the problem:

• Is your baby growing according to his/her growth curve? Essentially, is your baby gaining weight steadily?
• By 6 months your child should have been introduced to solids
• How old is your child? If your child is younger than a year, milk is more important. If your child is older than a year, solids should be the primary source of nutrition.
• Does your child receive protein rich nutrition if he/she is older than 6 months?
• Does your child have a sufficient intake of minerals like:
o Zinc
o Magnesium
o Iron
• Does your child eat/drink too much salt, sugar or caffeine? These additives could spike energy levels, leaving the child in a hyper-alert stage.
• Is your baby drinking too much water, rooibos tea and/or juice? Remember, juice has a high concentration of sugar/fructose.

When you’ve ruled out all the possible causes by going through the list, you can confidently embark on a tailor-made sleep-solution with one of Good Night’s caring consultants.

Our goal is to help you and your baby enjoy quality sleep, so that you can lead a better quality life.