With a career spanning over 25 years, London born mother of three, Annabel Karmel, has pioneered the way families all over the world feed their babies and children. We spoke with Annabel Karmel, the leading children's food expert, about all things baby food, the types that can be incorporated onto your infant's plates and our favourite topic, sleep. Enjoy.
Let’s talk baby sleep (and yours for that matter!). There’s no topic more hotly discussed among new parents.
When it comes to naps and bedtime routines, it never seems as plain-sailing as those guide books claim. And if one more person asks “Is she sleeping through the night yet?” or “Is she a good sleeper?”, you might just burst!
But here’s the thing; no baby (or grown-up for that matter) sleeps through the night. Some babies learn to link their sleep cycles on their own, without adult help. Some will wake-up, but remain quiet in their cot, while others will wake and cry for help to start a new cycle. Every baby is different, and will reach different sleep milestones at different times.
And whilst there are a good number of factors that impact on sleep, the food you give your weaning infant (what, when and how much) can impact on the quality of their shut-eye.
Firstly, avoid giving them a big meal too close to starting the bedtime routine. Infants have tiny tummies and a big meal will cause their metabolic rate and body temperature to increase which will make it harder for them to drift off int sleepy slumber. Aim to offer their dinner 1 ½ - 2 hours before bedtime to give them the chance to fully digest their food.
Unfortunately, there are no magic meal ideas to guarantee a settled night. However, certain nutritious foods could lend a helping hand.
To avoid any spikes in sugar levels, offer slow-burning complex carbs at teatime such as sweet potato. The nutrients will be absorbed at a slower rate, avoiding that unwanted spike. My Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges are a great finger food idea, and perfect for encouraging independent eating.
Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Not only do these essential fatty acids play a critical role in your baby’s brain and visual development, but research has found that DHA also increases serotonin levels which could help your baby to nod-off naturally. Try adding my Salmon, Sweet Potato & Tomato Puree to your baby’s menu.
Studies show that foods rich in tryptophan help the body make sleep-inducing melatonin, and turkey is packed with this amino acid. Why not try making your own mini turkey balls or burgers?
We all know the importance of including those power-packed leafy green veggies in our little one’s diets. The bonus is that dark leafy greens such as spinach are also high in tryptophan to support your baby’s sleep-producing hormone melatonin. Which other foods contain tryptophan?
- Wheat and oats (found in whole grain cereals and porridge)
- Tofu and soy products
- Pulses, beans and legumes
There are lots of reasons why your baby may rouse from sleep at night, so it’s important to check that they are safe and comfortable when they wake. And while I can’t promise that choosing the right foods at dinner time is the answer to every sleepless night, these ideas may help ease them into the land of nod!
Let’s not forget that during weaning and until your baby’s first birthday, they will still be having their all-important milk feeds and whether it’s breast or bottle, warm milk before bed will always have a comforting and soothing effect.
If you’re looking to get prepped for weaning, Annabel is here to help with her #1 parent step-by-step audio course. Packed with everything you need to know, it’s easy-to-follow, and you can dip in and out whenever it suits you. Now just $50 AUD. Visit www.annabelkarmelweaning.com.