The old Afrikaans adage “Magies vol oogies toe”, which roughly translated means Tummy Full, Eyes Close contains some wisdom for sleep-deprived moms and their little ones. What you feed your baby can have an effect on her (and your) sleep:

Newborn – Four Months

At this stage, you have no option, your baby can only have milk in her diet and milk is exactly what she needs for sleep. Milk contains Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that aids with the production of sleep hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin. This is why a milk feed can induce a peaceful slumber.

Taking this further – milk before the midday sleep and bedtime is a good idea all the way through into the toddler years.

It is interesting to note that research has shown that sleep efficiency is significantly higher in breastfed babies as the levels of Tryptophan are higher (Cubero, 2005)

Solids introduction

At between 4 and 6 months of age, your baby will shows signs that the current nutritional offering (milk) is not meeting all her needs for sleep – she will wake more frequently at night. Now you have two choices – either offer an extra milk feed at night or consider introducing solids. Distracting your baby or putting her back to sleep with a dummy / pacifier to avoid milk feeds or solids introduction is very likely to result in bad habits developing.

Dinner choices

Once solids are introduced, you can choose wonderful foods that aid sleep:

Foods high in Tryptophan

  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Fish, such as Tuna
  • Soya based foods such as Tofu
  • Poultry – especially Turkey
  • Spinach

Foods high in Magnesium and Potassium

  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dark green veggies- Spinach
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Fish
  • Wholegrains
  • Quinoa
  • Avocado Pear

Food that keep your little one fuller for longer

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Protein meals
  • Wholegrain, low GI grains or carbs
  • Quinoa


It’s all fine and well to focus on healthy foods for sleep but when your toddler is a fussy eater and survives on fresh air and love, you may need to supplement her diet:

  • Iron Supplement
  • A plant protein powder such as Barley Green
  • A picky eater milk – specially formulated to supplement fussy toddler’s nutrition