Food and sleep are very much related. They influence each other extremely. That means that what and when a baby or a child eats during the day influences his sleep at night and vice-versa. That is why some sleep specialists like Dr. Weissbluth consider sleep hygiene to be like food diet:
“a conscious routine for sleep consisting of special sleep habits which help us fall asleep after listening to our inner biological clocks, to our natural needs and rhythms in order to have a good healthy rest.
Dr. Weissbluth also think that:
“sleep deprivation is as unhealthy as feeding your child a nutritional deficient diet” (junk food).
Since we all have to learn or practice falling asleep and resettling even at older ages, I thought about some useful food recipes which could help us prepare for a better better sleep.
For a newborn, the main food for sleep is of course the milk (mother milk or formula).
The general feeding rules here are:
- Try to feed the newborn more during the day than during then night, so that he slowly makes the difference between day (activity) and night (more sleep), and try to feed him not sooner than every 3 hours, if possible.
- Try not to feed your newborn right before sleep, but rather after sleep or after a 10 min. break in between so that he does not develop a strong feed to sleep association. If your baby falls asleep shortly after you started feeding him, try to tickle his hands, put him in an upright position to burp, change his diaper or any other tricks so that he gets a full feed if possible. This will ensure him a longer stretch of sleep afterwards.
- Breast-milk has two important parts: the foremilk which is more hydrating and the hind milk, which is fattier and helps the baby grow and sleep better. Therefore it is important that the baby is fed at least 15-20 min. at each breast so he can get to the fatty part of milk.
- Always keep a track of your newborn weight gain which should be around 150g/week.
- Always check if any allergies or intolerance to milk protein occur in the family and especially how your baby reacts to it.
For a baby between 3 and 6 months of age, milk remains the main food for sleep and most of the rules for newborns are still valid. The only difference is that the time between feeds should extend to at least 4 hours. The WHO and AAP recommend feeding your baby exclusively with milk until the age of 6 months, but you can also consult your paediatrician for the right moment to introduce solids.
From the moment you start with solid food for your baby, the feeding structure and routine can take another shape and turn. Read this post for some recommendations on this issue.