When we do a consultation with children over the age of six months (who have established solids) who aren’t sleeping so well, we always ask for a food diary. We don’t ask for that because we’re judging you on your ability to produce hipster food purees for your little ones. We’re asking for that because we want to make sure that there is enough protein in their diet.
Protein satiates our brain and tells our brain that we’ve had enough food. You can keep eating all of the other stuff till your head falls off, but the brain will keep telling the body that it’s hungry. So, protein is the first thing we’re looking for.
Secondly, we’re looking for foods high in a substance called tryptophan. Tryptophan is a substance that is essential for producing melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. We can’t manufacture tryptophan. We have to eat it. So in our consultations we’d be looking for foods that contain tryptophan.
Foods that have an abundance of tryptophan for example are nuts and seeds (e.g. almond spread, cashew spread – probably not Nutella), cheese, poultry (especially turkey), beef, pork, soy products, salmon, tuna, eggs, bananas and oats, are all really good sources of tryptophan. So, if you’re tossing up between two foods and one of them is on this list, I would definitely go with the one that has tryptophan, because with that tryptophan, your baby is able to produce the melatonin that they need to sleep.
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