Foods to Help Baby Sleep By Annabel Karmel
By leading children’s food expert Annabel Karmel
Dreaming of more than a few hours of uninterrupted shut eye? Did you know that your baby’s diet could have something to do with their night time wake-up calls?
Different foods affect the body in different ways. What, when and how much your baby or toddler eats has an effect on how well they sleep.
If they have a big meal just before going to bed, their metabolic rate and body temperature will increase instead of decreasing which will make it harder for them to get to sleep. I would suggest that you aim to give them their evening meal 1 ½ – 2 hours prior to bedtime.
If your baby is still taking bottles, round off dinner with a small warm bottle of milk right before bed. This can have a soothing effect and will help them (and you) catch a few extra winks!
Ultimately, a good night’s sleep for baby begins with a good, balanced diet. So for all of those sleep deprived parents out there, here are a few of my favourite recipes to help fuel that all-important shut-eye.
SWEET POTATO, PEAR AND BROCCOLI
Slow-burning carbs such as sweet potato are good to serve before bed as the nutrients are absorbed at a slower rate, avoiding a spike in sugar levels.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Makes: 4 portions
150g leek, chopped
250g sweet potato, diced
150g butternut squash, diced
200g pear, peeled and diced
80g broccoli, chopped
50g parmesan, grated
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the leek, sweet potato, squash and pear. Gently sauté over the heat for 4 – 5 minutes. Add the water.
2. Cover with a lid, then bring up to the boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until tender.
3. Add the broccoli, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes until soft.
4. Add the milk, then blend until smooth using a hand blender. Stir in the cheese.
LOVELY LENTILS PUREE
These really are lovely lentils! Pulses are a great source of B vitamins, which are key in the production of serotonin and magnesium, both of which help relax muscles and calm the body.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Makes: 5 portions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
50g chopped onion or leek
100g carrots, peeled and chopped
15g celery, chopped
50g split red lentils
250g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
50g grated mature Cheddar cheese
1. Heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onion, carrots and celery for 5 minutes.
2. Rinse the lentils and add to the pan.
3. Add the sweet potato and sauté for 1 minute.
4. Pour in the passata and 1 tablespoon of water.
5. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted. Puree in a blender.
MINI TURKEY BURGERS
This tasty homemade burger recipe contains turkey, which has high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body make sleep-inducing serotonin.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 15 mini burgers
½ onion, peeled and chopped
½ desert apple, peeled and grated
1tbp chopped fresh thyme
250g minced turkey
75g white breadcrumbs
40g Cheddar cheese, grated
2tbsp tomato ketchup
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil, for drizzling
1. Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6.
2. Put the onion, apple and thyme into a food processor and whiz until everything is finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and whiz again until they are all combined.
3. With damp hands, shape the mixture into 15 mini burgers. Place the burgers on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper and drizzle over a little oil.
4. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 8-10 minutes until golden and cooked through.
Remember – there is no magic food that will get your baby to sleep all night long. Making sure your baby gets plenty of satisfying and nutritious food to eat is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to get your baby to sleep through the night.
For lots more recipe inspiration visit www.annabelkarmel.com