In babies and toddlers, nutrition and sleep are inextricably linked. In order for your child to have a good nights sleep, it’s important to offer them a filling and easily digestible evening meal. You should also be there for your child at night, as they need a lot of "supplies", especially in the first few months of their lives. In this blog you will find important tips and suggestions on how to best balance sleep and diet.
Breastfeeding babies at night - does my child need food at night?
It’s perfectly natural for babies to need and demand food at night during the first few months of life. After all, they have an enormous growth spurt, especially in the first year, to which the body has to pay tribute. Since, for example, the brain of small children grows very quickly, they need around four times as many calories in the first few years of life than adults.
For this reason alone, babies wake up screaming at night hungry. In such a case, please do not postpone the nightly meal, but feed your baby. This is extremely important because when babies are not fed, they instinctively feel like they are "starving" and may not be able to rest all night. If you are breastfeeding your baby, don't be surprised if they “report” more often at night than a bottle-fed child. Researchers suspect that babies digest breast milk more quickly and therefore, statistically speaking, wake up more often.
Sleep and food: mastering the transition between breastfeeding and complementary feeding
From around the fifth or sixth month of life you should slowly start adding complementary foods. If your child is no longer satisfied with just milk meals, you gradually replace one or two milk meals with a vegetable or milk cereal porridge without added sugar. Thanks to the energy and protein-rich milk and cereal porridge, your child will relaxed for a few hours and can sleep gently in the evenings with peace of mind.
Reducing night feeds in older children: this is how it works
At some point, your toddler won't need as many meals at night. However, some children are so used to the “breastfeeding times" that they still wake up at the usual times. As a parent, you should then help your child to fall asleep again without being fed:
Try to put the last two meals of the day closer together. Your child is probably not very hungry yet, but they get enough calories to sleep throughout the night.
Please do not stop all nightly meals from now on. First your child has to get used to the "food-free" phases during the night. Therefore, it makes more sense to skip a meal or two at first.
Do not offer your little one "substitute food" in the form of a dummy - they will otherwise wake up from now on. Instead, move on to other routines that will slowly rock your child back to sleep. With loving pats or a nice lullaby, your little one will go back to sleep peacefully.