Kids are notoriously difficult to feed. There are times of obsession: “I’ll have tomato sauce on everything please” and times of obstinate refusal: “No. No. No” (followed by bowl of soup on the floor). They seem only too happy to fill up on anything that comes in a foil packet (think crisps, chocolate, biscuits and sweets) but seem to run a mile from any home-made dishes that you believe will help make them big and strong.
Here are some helpful strategies to keep your kids tummies full of food and your mind at peace.
1. Eating well is an important step to helping your kids sleep well. BUT, your kids know when they are full. It’s unhelpful to force feed them as this disrupts the body’s feedback loop that signals when to eat and when to stop.If you suspect that they are being deceptive, set their bowl of food aside and if they are hungry later then let them have round 2.
2. Kids will not starve themselves. Analyse what your kid eats over a week rather than what they eat in one day. As long as they are getting a variety of good foods over the week they will be fine.
3. Fill their plate with a variety of foods. For example, instead of serving spaghetti bolagnaise serve a portion of pasta, a portion of mince sauce and a portion of cheese. This way you have more chance of them eating something as opposed to eating nothing.
4. Avoid using pudding as a bribe to finish their meal. A small sugary snack before bedtime can help kids fall asleep but a glass of milk and banana are better. Try not to label foods good and bad. Rather teach your children that their are a variety of great foods, but certain times for each.
5. Itchy eyes and runny noses? Headaches and tummy aches? Have your child investigated for food allergies/intolerances. High histamine levels causes inflammation of the nose, sinuses, throat, and gut. This discomfort can impair sleep quality. Allergy testsing can be expensive. Try to avoid feeding your child the suspected food for a week or give them a dose of mild anti-histamine an hour before bed time to see if this helps ease the congestion.
6. If the congestion doesn't ease and your is child is snoring go and get their tonsils and adenoids checked out by your GP. Studies have shown that children who struggle to sleep are often children who struggle to breath while they are sleeping. A tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy has been shown to be very effective in improving sleep quality.
Struggling to get your kid to feed or sleep? Send the Sleep Expert your questions.
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Foods that promote sleep
Sleep norms for all ages - getting the perfect dose at night
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