2 Things You Didn’t Know That Affect Your Child’s Sleep

2 Things You Didn’t Know That Affect Your Child’s Sleep

Every parent knows that sleep with a baby or toddler is far from perfect. Some families choose to sleep train, which works well for many, but why do even sleep trained babies still wake early, experience short naps, or fight sleep at times? Many parents blame sleep issues on teething, regressions or separation anxiety, which is true at times, but there are often underlying issues. What if I told you that there are two areas that have a huge impact on your child’s sleep that don’t involve sleep training at all? Nutrition and playtime have a much larger influence on sleep than most give them credit for and should be a prime focus when working on improving sleep habits.


A common myth around sleep is that if we feed our baby more often during the day, he/she will be more full and sleep better at night. Unfortunately, this is not the case for two reasons. The first is that baby will become accustomed to snacking all day and come to expect that, even during the night. They will get used to eating smaller, more frequent meals, rather than larger, more filling meals. Though feeding on demand might work during the day, this is often less sustainable through the night.

Additionally, for nursing mothers, we want to aim for fuller feeds rather than frequent snacks, to ensure your baby reaches the higher-fat, higher-calorie milk at the end of a feeding. Your milk supply is divided into two categories: foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk comes at the beginning of the feed and is more watery, whereas hindmilk is the thicker milk that baby consumes at the end of the feeding. Full feeds when nursing allow baby to access both types of milk. Donna Murray, RN, BSN explains, “​​Hindmilk satisfies your baby's hunger and makes your baby feel full and sleepy. It also helps your baby feel fuller longer.”

So what does all of this mean? As best as you can, try to space your feeds out to achieve full meals rather than snacks. Though this looks different for different ages, the constant is that the hearty, sustainable meals will prepare your child’s body for their long stretch of sleep at night. Please refer to the AAP Guidelines for more specifics on how often and how much your baby should be eating. 


Playtime is an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to help prepare your child for sleep. It can be used to help work out their energy, practice their independence, and get them comfortable in their sleep space.

Working out their energy: Babies have energy that they need to exert in order to be tired enough to want to sleep. By 3 months, it is recommended that babies have 1 hour of collective tummy time a day. By age 1, children should have at least 3 hours of physical activity each day. A baby that is held all day will simply not be tired enough to want to sleep at the time you believe they should. Ensuring your child is active will help to tire them out and prepare them to sleep. 

Practicing independence: By encouraging your baby to confidently play alone for periods of time, they form a secure enough attachment to know that their caregiver does not need to be right by their side for them to be safe. This translates back into sleep by giving them the understanding that they are still safe, even when they are in their room and cannot see their parents. Independent play should still be supervised and should always be in a safe environment. Consider spending some of this play time in their room so they can get comfortable in their sleep space. 



Certified sleep consultant and owner of  Peaceful Peanut Infant & Toddler Sleep Consulting, Kelsey Flores is committed to helping families get the restful sleep they need to enjoy parenthood to the fullest. She works with families to prevent, identify, and correct the root cause for sleep disturbances, and supports you in teaching your little one to sleep using gentle, responsive, and effective methods…Because your family deserves sleep!

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