Ami Meoded, LittleOne.Care Co-Founder & CMO
There is an almost invisible, yet direct, linkage between a child’s eating habits, sleeping routine, and activity (playfulness) levels. All three intertwine, and if repeated well, they ensure the baby’s wellbeing, happiness, and overall development.
No parent, or child expert, can ever claim that there is no connection between the three and we are here to examine exactly why.
Eating – can a child sleep properly on an empty stomach?
Feeding advice for babies is common. Just Google a couple of keywords (i.e. food infant), and a wide knowledge base will open. The ‘Stanford Children’s Health’, for example, provides credible and very specific guidance into a child’s first feeding routine. How much they should eat, which vitamins to take (Vitamin D), when to start on solid foods, and which snacks are best.
However, leaving out the internet for a minute, any parent will tell you that an infant’s primary reason for waking up is - to eat. They simply will not stop crying, even if it's 3 AM and you are all exhausted until fed. Eating is crucial for a good night’s sleep.
Eating on cue – or else!
The ‘Mayo Clinic’ directs parents to feed newborns on cue. Meaning, they need to look for early signs of readiness to eat, such as moving the hands to the mouth, sucking on fists and fingers, and lip-smacking. Fussing and crying are later cues. The sooner the parent begins each feeding, the less likely they’ll end up soothing a frantic baby.
The challenge begins when you wait for too long. The baby becomes frantic and is difficult to calm down. They might resist the food, become fussy, and get the entire household tense.
This leads to a loss of sleep for both baby and parent, and more importantly - causes an unhealthy chain reaction.
Sleeping routine – how is it tied to feedings?
In an article we published earlier this year, we provided specific details about a baby’s sleeping habits: the frequency, signs, and the assistance parents can give to make ‘falling asleep’ smoother. But there is also a connection between eating and the short window of opportunity when it comes to sleep.
Polly Moore is the Director of Sleep Research at California Clinical Trials in San Diego and author of “The Natural Baby Sleep Solution”. She has identified rhythms of sleep and wakefulness of newborns to help any child maintain a healthy sleep cycle. In fact, she says that babies have a 90-minute alertness rhythm, and if kept regular they enjoy life so much better when they’re well-rested.
“People think the babies are hungry, that’s what they think babies are crying about. They give the baby a bottle or the breast — and of course, the baby will take that. This can actually confuse the baby on some level. You want the baby to learn, what does hungry feel like, what am I supposed to do when I’m hungry?” Says Moore.
So, you shouldn’t feed the baby to sleep. But if the baby isn’t fed right, and becomes too fussy, putting them to sleep is a challenge.
Do we really need to explain the difficulties around sleepless babies?
It’s obvious – a sleepless baby not only gets loud during the day, disturbing the entire household, they also don’t feel like being too playful.
Why is playfulness an essential part of a baby’s wellbeing?
“Active babies make smart kids” Says the PVC Expo. “A baby’s brain grows most rapidly in the first twelve months of life and this is a critical period for learning. Research has shown that the correct stimulation for babies can influence how well they behave, read and learn when they reach school. In addition, they have improved confidence, communication and socialization skills.”
The importance of a baby being awake and alert can be summarized in three points :
1. They have enough patience to stay on the stomach (critical exercise).
2. They are adequately happy to listen to surrounding voices, music, and activities.
3. They remain relaxed and open to absorb outside stimulations, activate the brain and advance learning.
Eat, Sleep, Play – Repeat …that’s what it’s all about!
A well-fed baby will sleep better, play better, and develop in a healthy and happy way.
Join our online event
LittleOne.Care will be holding a unique online event, bringing several baby professionals together, to discuss in detail the connection between ‘Eat, Sleep, Play – Repeat’.
We invite you to register on our site for more details. You won’t want to miss out on this event.