Sleep and nutrition are a family. They are siblings and they love each other so much. Did you know that?
They are so close that when one is happy it makes the other one happy and when one is upset and not doing very well so is the other one.
This concept is an important one to remember. There is never one thing we can pinpoint when we are trying to solve an issue. Our bodies are so complicated and magnificent and thus if we start to think about dealing with any issue we are facing with a holistic approach, we are more likely to be successful.
As I mentioned before, one possible contributing factor to consider and address when dealing with poor sleep is nutrition. As part of looking at the bigger picture and having a holistic approach, you will also look at the routine, the room environment ( temperature, lighting, sleepwear, bed), and habits, but nutrition is the most basic component to address first.
I would like to mention a few things to consider that may have an impact on your baby’s sleep.
Firstly, the most basic one, is if your baby is eating enough? Some babies like to eat small meals frequently and thus will wake often, which means they are hungry and not that they have poor sleep. With time the stomach will grow and they will be able to eat more and stay fuller for longer. Follow your baby’s hunger and satiety cues to be able to rule out hunger as a possible reason for poor sleep.
Secondly, if the baby has digestive issues such as gas, vomiting, reflux, constipation or diarrhea, they will obviously be very uncomfortable and find it hard to fall asleep. There are many causes of these symptoms, but food sensitivities play a major role. The main trigger foods to keep in mind are dairy, eggs and gluten and may be worth addressing if your baby has any of these symptoms.
Thirdly, if your baby is unwell with constant colds or ear infections, for example, that will make it hard for them to be rested or comfortable enough for sleep. In this instance too, food plays a huge role in strengthening their immunity. There are lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are critical for the body to function properly and our baby should be getting them daily from food.
The main food groups to focus on, to get as many nutrients as possible (served in an age-appropriate manner) are:
If our baby’s diet is balanced, they are less likely to have deficiencies that would negatively impact their health, energy, mood, digestion and as such their sleep too.
Zinc, Vitamin D & C & B12, play a huge role in the immune system.
Magnesium plays a huge role in relaxation and thus better sleep.
To sum up, please remember that sleep and nutrition go hand-in-hand and let’s help our babies enjoy food and eat a variety of wholesome foods so that they thrive.
By Michal Sach
Plant-based child nutritionist
Michal Sach is a certified nutritionist with a focus on plant-based child nutrition. She also has a Masters degree in Food Science and Technology from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She left the food industry as a Quality Assurance Manager to follow her biggest passion which is how to use wholefood rather than processed and manufactured food to feel the best that we can feel.
Michal is a mom of 3 girls aged 9,6, and one and being a mom is what gives her the most joy. They transitioned to a plant-based diet and feel like it was one of the greatest decisions they have made.
Michal loves to teach other moms about how to feed their children with ease and confidence and how to love the kitchen and cooking. She feels that teaching our children the right eating habits, to eat wholefoods and to understand the connection between health and nutrition are some of the biggest gifts we can give them.
Michal loves good old-fashioned board games and they spend hours playing together. They enjoy bike-riding and walks and of course baking and cooking from scratch. Michal has travelled around the world and is fascinated by other cultures and their heritage.
Her biggest goal is for kids to thrive and enjoy a simple and fun childhood by feeling amazing and having all the energy they need to do the things they love.