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Hannah Bailey is an expert nutritionist who has written this piece on nutrition for children and sleep for us. It is a guide for parents. We all know how important it is to eat sensibly, to try and get our 5 portions of fruit and veg a day but did you know nutrition can also effect how well your child is sleeping?
Hannah gives us her Top Tips: on nutrition for children to ensure a good nights sleep.
Nutrition for children and sleep : Diet can have a big impact on sleep and the quality of sleep in both adults and children. Factors such as whether a child is hungry or thirsty can affect how easily they fall asleep and how long they sleep for in one chunk.
Children’s stomachs are smaller than adults so it stands to reason that they will need to eat more regularly than we may. They are also better at knowing when they are full, especially those whose parents did baby led weaning, so may not eat large quantities in one go and prefer to snack instead.
There are some things to do to help ensure your child isn’t waking through diet or nutrition.
4 Crucial Tips: Ensure that you child’s diet and nutrition is not causing him/her to wake through the night.
- Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates for children. It can affect how quickly and easily they fall asleep but also how long they stay asleep. We wake up if our blood sugar drops and as a natural response.
- Make sure children have eaten fairly near to bed time. If they have dinner more than 2 hours before bed, they may be starting to feel hungry again. Offer a glass of milk, something protein rich like a small piece of cheese, cold meat, cottage cheese, egg etc to take away hunger pangs and also balance blood sugars better.
- Although we don’t want to be eating refined carbohydrates like biscuits, cakes, white bread and pasta, some low GI carbohydrates such as brown rice, oatcakes and porridge may be beneficial before bed especially when combined with protein
- Ensure children are hydrated and have had plenty of water to drink throughout the day rather than just close to bed time. Often, thirst is mistaken for hunger so offering water regularly will help them get used to drinking more. You will know if your child is hydrated by the colour of their urine, it should be a pale straw colour.