It's not always obvious that there are links between what your little one is eating, and how they are sleeping.
But there are strong connections between the two, and often mastering one can help with any issues in the other. We asked Cheryl, Sleep Consultant at Sleep Training London to explain more. "As a Sleep Consultant I always look at a child’s whole routine, day and night to find out why a baby or child may not be sleeping. Often is it easy to see a clear link between mealtimes and sleeping. It’s never as simple as the child is just not sleeping. There is always a reason why this is happening and therefore a solution can be found!
There are many factors for why a child may not be sleeping or finding it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. One of the reasons could be to do with a child’s eating habits. This may be because of not eating the right foods or simply not eating enough. Another factor could be the child eating something that doesn’t agree with their stomachs. This could make them uncomfortable and unsettled, which can result in finding it hard to go to sleep. This in turn means an overall lack of sleep which can make the child overtired. So it is really important to find out if a child’s diet is causing them to lose sleep.
If a child is not eating enough at mealtimes then this can result in the child being hungry at bedtime or waking up during the night because of hunger. So they may settle to sleep quickly but you find their sleep disturbed because they are waking due to hunger. Therefore you need to make sure they are getting the right amount of food into them during the day to help them sleep through the night. By looking at your child's overall routine it is often easy to see a link between mealtimes and sleeping, and how one affects the other. Ways to encourage a child to eat more throughout the day is :
1. Cut out snacksNow this may seem a crazy thing to say as you are probably wanting your child to eat more. But if you cut out the snacks, that will stop them grazing through the day and therefore make them hungrier for when their mealtimes are ready. This results in the child eating more at mealtimes of the good things that you want them to eat. In turn this means they are fuller and more content.
2. Give the child a little bit of independence
It's good to encourage your child to be independent at mealtimes. One way to do this is to give the child their own plate and utensils. This way they get to choose what they want to eat off their own plates. This is rewarding for the child and in turn encourages them to eat more. doddl utensils for babies and children are ideal for this, as they are just the right size for their little hands. This makes it easy for them to use and to manipulate. They learn the skills they need to feed themselves independently without getting frustrated. doddl utensils give your child the confidence they need to progress onto the next stage of feeding themselves. This is what you are aiming for, as when your child is full and content you will find your child will sleep so much better. Which of course is good for all the family! Think of how you feel after a lovely Sunday dinner - full, happy, content and definitely ready for a little sleep!!"
Cheryl is a Sleep Consultant from Sleep Training London. She is a fully qualified Nursery Nurse, NNEB trained, Sleep Consultant and Ofsted registered. Cheryl is also a proud Mommy to one little girl. She has over 30 years experience in childcare and now specialises in sleep training for your little ones. For more information visit her website, or check out her Instagram page sleep_training_london