Bedtime food for babies

Best Foods To Promote Better Baby and Toddler Sleep |

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by Emily DeJeu in Sleep Quick Tips —

We talk a lot here at The Baby Sleep Site® about how to promote better sleep for your baby. From sleep training for better nighttime sleep to nap coaching for better naps, we have so many tips to offer for getting your baby to sleep.

But here’s a tip that may surprise you: did you know that the food you offer your baby can have a direct impact on his sleep? It’s true! Read on for details.

Sleep-Promoting Foods To Feed Your Baby or Toddler

You probably know that foods containing caffeine and sugar are stimulating; for that reason, you definitely want to avoid feeding those kinds of foods to your child as a general rule, and certainly before naptime or bedtime. However, there are other types of foods that actually have a sedating effect on the brain. They produce chemicals that promote sleepiness and relaxation. These foods that help sleep contain a substance called tryptophan.

What is tryptophan? Glad you asked! Tryptophan is an amino acid that our bodies use to synthesize proteins. Tryptophan also produces a brain chemical called serotonin from which melatonin (which is so essential for sleep that it’s named the ‘sleep hormone’) is manufactured.

Foods that contain high levels of tryptophan include the following:

  • Dairy products (Cheddar, gruyere, and Swiss cheeses have particularly high amounts of tryptophan)
  • Nuts
  • Tofu and soy products
  • Wheat and oats
  • Bananas
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (especially turkey)

But here’s the thing: in order for the tryptophan to help your child feel sleepy, your kiddo needs to eat tryptophan-containing foods alongside foods that contain healthy, complex carbohydrate foods. Why? Because carbohydrates cause the release of insulin, which helps tryptophan reach the brain and cause sleepiness.

Good examples of meals that provide the proper combination of complex carbs and tryptophan include:

  • Turkey with sautéed greens
  • Whole-wheat pasta with some cheddar cheese grated on top
  • An egg sandwich on whole wheat bread, topped with Swiss cheese
  • Tofu with stir-fried vegetables
  • Tuna* with brown rice

*Please talk to your doctor about appropriate amount due to mercury levels

You don’t need to whip up an entire meal, however, in order to feed your child some sleep-promoting food. Great sleep-inducing snacks could include:

  • Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter
  • Whole-grain cereal with milk
  • Low-sugar oatmeal cookie with milk
  • Squares of cheese on whole-wheat crackers

Please Note: Be sure to talk with your pediatrician about how to introduce solids to your baby or toddler, since some food leads to food allergies, which can actually cause sleep to WORSEN (and who wants that?!).

Of course, sleep-inducing foods like these won’t necessarily solve all your sleep problems! If persistent nighttime waking and short (or non-existent) naps are problems in your home, you may need to troubleshoot other causes of sleep problems. No amount of sleep-inducing food will help solve persistent night-waking and early-nap waking. But offering your child sleep-promoting foods is one great way among many to help ensure that you have a peaceful sleeper in your home!

What sleep-promoting foods work well for your child? Any favorite bedtime or pre-nap snacks to recommend? Scroll down to ask questions, to share tips and suggestions, and to hear from other parents just like you!

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9 Best Dinner Foods for Your Baby to Help Him Sleep Peacefully All Night! (With Recipes)

Putting your baby to sleep is perhaps one of the toughest tasks you need to accomplish every day. Babies wake up often every night and find it difficult to sleep at a stretch. This also affects your health as you need to stay up with your baby and help him feel better. Very often, your baby finally falls asleep at 6 AM and for you, it is time to get started on the new day! Well, what if you found that making a couple of changes in your baby’s dinner can solve this problem?

If your baby has weaned off breastmilk and been introduced to solid foods, he probably eats a variety of things for dinner. Purees, porridge, rice, fruits…Our purpose is to keep his dinner nutritious, filling and easy to digest. But here’s the interesting part: research suggests that diet has a very crucial role to play in your baby’s SLEEP cycle!

The contents of any food item that we consume have an effect on our overall health. While some foods make us alert and wakeful (think coffee, for adults), there are certain food products that are known to promote sleep. These food items combined with complex carbohydrates help in the release of sleep-promoting substances in the body. This makes your baby feel sleepy and comfortable after his dinner. Simply put, this means he is likelier to nap sooner and for longer!
Did you know that according to some studies in child development, each sleepless hour a night can potentially cut down TWO cognitive years in a baby?

9 Dinner Food Recipes for Babies to Help them Sleep Better Through the Night

Here are 9 dinner foods for babies that are not just nutritious and easy to digest but also help your little one get a good night’s sleep!

1. Warm Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a wholesome food in itself, extremely healthy for both babies and adults. But here’s the best part: it is also an excellent source of melatonin which helps trigger insulin production. Insulin in turn helps in inducing sleep! You can prepare oatmeal in many different forms, the simplest of which is a porridge, light and easy to digest for babies. We recommend mixing it up with apples to improve both the taste and the nutrition quotient.

Recipe: Oats Porridge With Apples

2. White Rice

Rice is well-known be high in glycemic index. This, according to several scientific studies, has been found to help people sleep better and faster. Now you know why many people tend to feel sleepy after consuming rice! Although brown rice is highly recommended for babies due to its higher nutrient value, white rice has a higher glycemic index when compared to brown. Plus, rice is easily digested by babies and is light on the stomach too. Try this rice pudding with apples again – quite a delicious dinner food to help your baby nap!

Recipe: Apple Rice Pudding

3. Spinach

As mothers, we keep stressing on feeding green leafy vegetables to our little ones. We want them to reap the benefits of nutrients such as iron, vitamins and minerals. But did you know that apart from providing the required nutrients, green veggies are also rich in tryptophan – an amino acid that our bodies use to synthesize proteins? Tryptophan also helps in the production of melatonin – the body’s ‘sleep hormone’! It is also called the body clock hormone as it determines the baby’s sleep-wake cycles. Whew, spinach has so many other health benefits that its sleep-inducing property is just another feather in its cap!

4. Cherries

Cherries are another great addition to your baby’s dinner, for the same reason as spinach – they are replete with melatonin, the sleep hormone! They are also quite delicious which means your baby is likelier to accept them easily. Keep in mind that tart cherries contain the most amount of melatonin so choose them over the sweet ones.

How to Feed: It is best to de-seed and puree the cherries before feeding your baby. This makes them easier to consume and digest.

Watch: An Easy Cherry Puree Recipe for Your Baby

Key Takeaway:

  • All you need are cherries, either frozen or fresh. Defrost the frozen cherries for 4-5 hours before preparing the puree.
  • Puree the cherries in the food processor or blender.
  • Place the mix on a low-medium flame for 5 minutes. Remove when it starts steaming.
  • Strain the mixture to get out the chunky bits with a mesh sieve.

5. Bananas

Bananas are loved by many babies for their soft, sweet taste. But did you know that they contain a good amount of magnesium which is a natural muscle relaxant? Relaxed muscles mean your baby feels sleepier after dinner and eventually sleeps better! Apart from this, bananas also have good amounts of melatonin and serotonin. We recommend the following banana puree recipe for your little one.

Recipe: Banana Puree

6. Chicken


If you are a non-vegetarian, you may be considering introducing chicken in your baby’s diet. You have a great reason too! Chicken contains high levels of tryptophan. And as we discussed, this amino acid will definitely make your baby sleepy post dinner! Needless to say, chicken will also take care of the protein requirements of your baby. It is a great idea to begin with shredded pieces and soup post the age of 8 months. Here is a recipe you can try to reap the double protein benefits of chicken and lentils. If your baby is old enough to self-feed, serve it in a bowl that has his favourite cartoon characters for maximum attention! 😉

7. Walnuts

Walnuts help the body in the production of serotonin – a chemical that soothes the brain and affects the mood of a person, making them more relaxed. This helps them sleep better and longer. Walnuts also contain melatonin which, as we saw, is great for napping. We recommend adding walnuts to your baby’s dinner after making sure there are no small pieces that can induce choking. Nuts are recommended for babies after they have crossed the one year milestone so as to minimise risks of allergies. Consult your paediatrician to discuss this further.

8. Chickpeas

Legumes, in general, are high in protein as well as tryptophan and hence a great sleep promoter. But apart from high protein content, chickpeas are also high in iron, potassium, fibre and vitamins K, C and B-6. This makes them a great, nutritious dinner food! It is advised to boil the beans and mash them to include in your baby’s diet. This makes it easy for them to consume as well as digest chickpeas.

9. Dairy Products

Finally, this one is no surprise – the milk before bed-time is certainly a great idea. But even apart from milk, other dairy products like cheese and paneer are also packed with tryptophan. Hence, something like a bowl of bananas mashed in milk an hour prior to bedtime will ensure your baby sleeps comfortably through the night. Also, if going for cheese, opt for swiss and cheddar as they have the maximum amount of tryptophan. You can also make the following recipe part of your baby’s dinner sometimes, for a special treat! It is tailored especially to a baby’s taste and digestive power.

Did You Know:

Certain foods like sugar and caffeine are stimulating in nature and hence the term ‘sugar rush’ is actually a real thing. It is therefore advisable not to include food items containing these properties right before bedtime. As a rule, go easy on the sugar you add to any baby food to also protect your child from the risk of tooth decay and developing unhealthy eating habits.

Tips While Feeding Your Baby to Ensure Sleep Throughout the Night

When babies first begin eating solid foods, they may experience discomfort that also affects their sleep. There can be several reasons for this. For one, their digestive system is still coping with the sudden change from liquids to solids. The timings between the feeding of solids and milk probably haven’t been properly worked out yet. Sometimes, the quality of the food matters more than the quantity consumed. Apart from this, there may be certain things in the breastfeeding routine of the baby that is holding up their sleep schedules. You can follow these following tips to induce a long night’s sleep in your baby!

  • While breastfeeding, keep the light turned off so as to make it clear that it’s not daytime. Alternatively, you can use a nightlight or dimmer switch. Use white noises (such as the hum of the fan) in the background which can help soothe the baby.
  • Ensure that you burp your baby after breastfeeding; otherwise, trapped air in his stomach can cause him to wake up.
  • Fixing a schedule for the baby’s eating and sleeping patterns is beneficial for the baby’s overall development. From the months of 4 to almost 18, it is ideal that bedtime should be between 7 to 8 pm, depending on where your baby is along the age line. Accordingly, dinner should be timed an hour or 1.5 hours before the baby’s bedtime.
  • It’s not just dinnertime that should be fixed. The baby’s daytime routine also plays an important role in getting him to sleep through the night. Schedule timings for his meals and naps as is age-appropriate. Eventually, this can help the baby naturally feel drowsy by his bedtime.
  • One of the main reasons for babies to wake in the middle of the night can be indigestion, because of which the child faces discomfort. ‘Tummy Time’ is gaining popularity among new parents now, owing to its several benefits, one of which is improving digestion. Lying on their tummy during the day (for example supervised floor play) provides the baby’s abdominal organs with a kind of ‘massage’, which also helps to relieve gas, and stimulate normal bowel movements. Keep in mind that this should not be done immediately after a meal. Also, while babies should compulsorily be made to sleep on their back only, tummy time during their waking hours can be of help.
  • It will take up to the age of 8-9 months for the baby to sleep through the entire night (meaning a consolidated 11-12 hours of sleep). To remove the association of feeding and sleeping in their brains, it is important to wean your baby off being fed to sleep. Start with moving his nursing at the beginning of his bedtime routine (rather than at the end). If he persists in waking, make it earlier. i.e right before/after dinnertime.
  • Remember to put your baby down to sleep when he is drowsy, but still awake. Rushing to get your baby to sleep right after nursing can prove to be problematic, as when the baby wakes up, he doesn’t know how to fall asleep on his own. Instead, when he is feeling calm and relaxed and is frequently closing his eyes, put him down to bed, and let him learn to put himself to sleep. Keep in mind that it may take a week or so for the baby to develop this habit.

Along with the baby’s food habits, something that can help your baby’s sleep routine is having your partner take charge as well. Dr. Diana Julian, Child Sleep Consultant, talks about how fathers can be the secret to a baby’s blissful sleep and various techniques they can incorporate. The father can feed the baby a bottle of breast milk during the night feedings, which makes for a dad-baby bonding session as well. Some mothers also claim that since their husbands took charge of rocking their baby to sleep when he wakes, it has proved to be a success! It could be because the baby associates feeding to the mother and expects to be fed when he wakes in the middle of the night and sees her. Try a role-reversal and see how that works out for you!

Is Your Diet Affecting Your Breastfed Baby’s Sleep?

When your breastfed baby refuses to sleep throughout the night, there are doubts that can creep into your mind regarding the effects of your breastmilk on your baby’s sleep. While there is no concrete research which state that elements of your diet can affect your breastmilk, there are certain tried-and-tested techniques by mothers which seem to alter their babies’ sleeping patterns.

The first thing to note is that breast milk is not made up of what you eat, but what is in your blood. So there is no particular list of foods that is applicable for mothers’ to avoid. However, if you seem to incorporate caffeine and sugar a little more than the healthy amount in your daily diet, cutting it down is ideal – it definitely will help to improve your overall health!

There are some mothers who have seen a slight improvement in their babies’ sleep patterns once their caffeine/sugar intake was reduced as well. Another possibility to consider is allergic reactions to some food nutrients that may be passed on through your breast milk to your baby. If symptoms like diarrhea, rashes, fussiness, gas, colic and so on keep your baby up at night, keep a track of what you eat and when these symptoms show up. If you see a link, reduce the suspected food and speak to your health-care provider about further remedies.

So moms, make sure you include these food items in your baby’s dinner to help him sleep uninterrupted. If your baby sleeps well, he will be happy and active the next morning, and so will you! Do you know of more recipes and sleep-promoting dinner foods for babies? Share them with other mommies by leaving a comment below.

What to feed your baby before bed

Our friends @gotovimdetyam collect the best baby food recipes and tips. They prepared an article specifically for @spimalysh "What to feed a child before bedtime?".

According to scientists, dinner should be 20% of the daily diet. The child should have dinner no later than one and a half to two hours before bedtime, and a second dinner in the form of a glass of milk or kefir at night is also desirable, which prolongs the feeling of satiety and calms. nine0003

Everyone is familiar with the old grandmother's remedy: in order for the child to sleep soundly, he needs to be fed more satisfyingly. In this case, the parents will receive peace of mind, but not the child. His body will not rest, it will be engaged in the digestion of food. Such excesses as semolina or meat dishes at night lead to gastrointestinal diseases.

Recipes for breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner are very similar. Variations of products, combinations of cottage cheese, fruits and cereals, light soups and casseroles - all this is equally suitable for breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. nine0003

Children's dinner includes food that the child "did not get" during the day. For example, if there was a lack of cottage cheese and fruits, give cottage cheese and fruits. Children who go to kindergarten do not have enough “live” fermented milk products, egg dishes, since almost all food in kindergarten is thermally processed. Therefore, in the evening you can unload the stomach without offering him anything boiled or baked - eggs, raw vegetables, salads, yogurts, cottage cheese. Well, if there was no dinner in the kindergarten, then we are having dinner at home like an adult. nine0003

People often ask: is it bad to eat porridge for dinner, is it not too heavy a meal. Look at the child! The child will always give a signal which food is preferable for him. If the dream is restless, the child cannot fall asleep for a long time - try experimenting with dinner. Porridge is a normal living food, it is better than sandwiches, convenience foods, cereals, cookies, and so on. Porridge can be harmful if it is not absorbed by a particular child for some reason.

You should not give millet, semolina, barley porridge for dinner, if possible, do not use milk and sugar, replacing them with fruit puree, dried fruits, a spoonful of honey. "Light" porridge for the night is buckwheat, oatmeal and any "children's" (powder). nine0003

Also suitable for dinner:

— Cottage cheese, cottage cheese dishes (casseroles, syrniki), cottage cheese with fruit.

- Omelet, vegetables in an omelet, boiled eggs.

- Mixed vegetables, purees, stews, casseroles, vegetable cutlets and zrazy, vegetables with rice, buckwheat. Raw vegetables.

- Salads.

- Fruits - bananas and green apples. Banana calms, increases the feeling of satiety, and green apples are rich in "night" elements - calcium and iron, magnesium, potassium. nine0003

- Baked fruits: apples, pears.

- Any fermented milk products - kefir, yogurt, bifidok, acidophilus. Cheese.

Bon appetit and healthy sleep to your children!

Food and Sleep Physiology Articles

“Mom, I want to eat!” the baby asks, lying in bed and almost closing his eyes. We are sure that most parents are familiar with this situation. Indeed, many children want to drink or eat before going to bed. This is because the small organism has an increased metabolism and needs to be “refilled”. What to feed your baby before bed? What foods and how do they affect the quality of children's sleep? We have learned the opinion of pediatricians and are ready to share important information with you. nine0003

Of course, a child's sleep is influenced by many factors: daily routine, walks, games, communication with other children, and finally, the health of the baby. However, one of the most important is nutrition. We have compiled for you 5 important facts about bedtime feeding that every mother should know.

1. Diet

When compiling an individual diet for a child, it is recommended to keep 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and 2 additional ones (second breakfast/snack and second dinner), the volume of one feeding - no more than 300–350 ml ** .
According to pediatricians, the distribution of the energy value of the diet should be as follows: breakfast -20% of daily calories, lunch -35%, dinner -20%; afternoon snack -15% second breakfast or dairy products before bedtime -10% * .

2. Snacks

Experts advise to properly organize the child's diet and to refuse spontaneous snacks (use of juices, buns, sweets between feedings), which leads to a decrease in appetite and the displacement of important foods from the child's diet ** .

3. Feeding before bedtime

If a child asks for food late in the evening, then 1 hour before bedtime he can be given a glass of fermented milk product (kefir, fermented baked milk, yogurt, etc.) or milk formula of the fourth formula. A good option is Similac Gold 4 Baby Milk, which is highly digestible, palm oil-free and contains beneficial prebiotics that support gut health and strengthen the body's natural defenses.

4. Overeating

In order for a child to sleep soundly, it is necessary to give him a good drink and feed, some grandmothers advise. But in vain! Meat and legumes take a long time to digest. A small body will not be able to rest, which means that the baby’s sleep will be disturbing and restless. In addition, such food can cause bloating and nausea. Overeating also threatens night whims and waking up. Therefore, you should not give your child in the evening foods that greatly overload his digestive tract.

5. Sweets

Confectionery (marshmallow, marshmallow, marmalade, jam, marmalade or jam) - all this has an exciting effect on the baby. In principle, it is not recommended to abuse them in the children's diet (foods with a high sugar content can be present in the diet of children no more than 2-3 times a week, in an amount up to 10 g per day ** ), and especially before bedtime. Sweets contain fast carbohydrates, which cause a release of energy and prevent falling asleep.

A balanced diet is the key to a good and sound sleep for a child. But if you have questions about how to make the right diet for a baby at this age, you can always consult a specialist.


* "ORGANIZATION OF CHILDREN'S NUTRITION UNDER QUARANTINE CONDITIONS AND NOT ONLY", Federal State Autonomous Institution "National Medical Research Center for Children's Health" of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.

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