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Babies need a nourishing-fat diet for good sleep

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Babies need a nourishing-fat diet for good sleep

This is one of the most important blogs I have ever written.

What we feed our babies matters

I see many babies at 6-10 months having frequent night breastfeeds and even up to 15-20 feeds at night. These mums are so exhausted they don't know how to stop this situation. The baby is on very little solids during the day and they often wake at 5 am, nap badly in the day and are cranky by bedtime. These mums never started off planning to end up in this situation.

The big culprit is leaving the introduction of solids until 6 months. ASCIA (ASCIA guidelines 2017) recommends starting solid food at 4-6 months whereas WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months.

baby food

A high-fat diet is essential for good sleep

Many mums are delaying starting solids until 6 months yet iron stores deplete at 6 months and the infants developing brain requires a nutritional intake of 50% fat at 6 months. Yet breast milk has only 4.4g of fat per 100mls, well below the 50% it needs.

"Dietary fat is an important source of energy. Some fats provide essential fatty acids. Fat is also needed for the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins". (NHMRC)

NHMRC states "Restriction of dietary fat is not recommended during the first two years of life because it may compromise the intake of energy and essential fatty acids and adversely affect growth, development, and the myelination of the central nervous system".

The traditional solids mums start on are very low in protein, carbohydrates and fat. Unless protein and fat are included in the diet at 6 months the baby will require much more breastfeeds than they were at 3-4 months old. And many of these breastfeeds will be at night.

A hungry baby starts waking more frequently at night after 3-4 months of age. Unless the necessary foods are introduced these night milk feeds can get really out of hand. I see many babies having up to 10 feeds at night. Once I examine their diet the reason becomes very clear.

"Nutritionally a baby after 6 months does not need night feeds," a direct quote from Dr Oliveira, Consultant Paediatrician at a seminar I attended on baby sleep on Tuesday 28th November 2017.

baby purees
How much solid food at 6 months old?

Most babies are eating 1-1.5 cups of food 3 x a day and main and dessert for lunch and evening meal. This is based on no night feeds and a baby who is sleeping well. Babies need to be able to self-settle to eat enough solids for growth and development. It's not the other way around.

Number of Calories Babies Need

Your baby is capable of determining how many calories he needs as long as you offer an adequate amount of food.

An average-sized 7-month-old boy needs 668 calories per day, a girl needs 608 calories per day.

The bottom 6 foods are the foods I see most babies at 6 months eating. Most are having very little protein and no fat at all in their diets. And yet the diet should be 50% fat! 

Per 100mls/100g of food

Breastmilk calories = 70; Fat = 4.4g; Protein = 1g; Carbohydrates = 7g

Full cream milk calories = 42; Fat = 1g; Protein = 3.4g; Carbohydrates = 5g

Foods rated highest to lowest in fat to be added to babies solids

Olive oil calories = 884; Fat = 100g; Protein = 0g; Carbohydrates = 0.1g

Coconut oil calories = 862; Fat = 100g; Protein = 0g; Carbohydrates = 0g

Butter calories = 717; Fat = 81g; Protein = 0.9g; Carbohydrates = 0.1g

Peanut butter calories = 588; Fat =50g; Protein = 25g; Carbohydrates = 20g

Coconut cream calories = 330; Fat = 35g; Protein = 7g; Carbohydrates = 3.6

Cheese calories = 402; Fat = 33g; Protein = 25g; Carbohydrates = 1.3g

Chia seeds calories = 486; Fat = 31g; Protein = 17g; Carbohydrates = 17g

Avocado calories = 160; Fat = 15g; Protein = 2g; Carbohydrates = 9g

Salmon calories = 208; Fat = 13g; Protein =20g; Carbohydrates = 0g

Egg calories = 155; Fat = 11g; Protein = 13g; Carbohydrates = 1.1g

Pear calories = 57; fat = 0.1g; Carbohydrates = 15g; Protein = 0.4g

Blueberries calories = 57; Fat = 0.3g; Carbohydrates = 14g; Protein = 0.7g

Apple calories = 52; Fat = 0.2g; Carbohydrates = 10g; Protein = 0.3g

Carrots calories = 41; Fat = 0.2g; Protein = 0.9g; Carbohydrates = 10g

Broccoli calories = 34; Fat = 0.4g; Carbohydrates= 7g; Protein = 2.8g

Pumpkin calories = 26; Fat = 0.1g; Carbohydrates = 7g; Protein = 1g

Nutritional Composition
In addition to getting the right number of calories per day, your baby also needs to consume the right breakdown of protein, carbohydrate, and fat to grow properly.

Around 40 per cent of your baby's calorie intake should come from carbohydrates, 40 to 50 per cent from fats and 10 per cent from protein.

? FOODS that promote baby sleep
⏰ ROUTINE: easy, flexible, sleep-ready
? ENVIRONMENT: getting it right
?? DEVELOPMENT: changes, how these affect sleep
? SLEEP METHODS: secret tips that will change your life

Milk Calories

Generally, a baby aged 7 months will drink 3-4 breastfeeds or 500-750 MLS of formula per day, with solid food making up the rest of his calories.

Solid Food Calories

The calories in solid food will vary considerably, depending on what you give your baby. Most commercial jarred and pouch baby foods supply between 40 to 70 calories per jar for fruits and vegetables, depending on the food. Mixing 2 tablespoons of rice cereal, traditionally a baby's first solid food, with water will provide 30 calories. A baby food jar of commercial chicken contains 100 calories. However be careful about pouches of baby food, most are little more than a sugar hit and will not help your baby sleep.

As your baby eats more solid food, his milk intake will often decrease. As long as he's gaining weight and height at a normal rate, you don't need to worry whether he's getting enough calories. Most babies double their birth weight by 6 months and triple it by 1 year.

Once babies get the right ratio of nutrients they sleep as well as grow and develop. And a sleeping baby = a happy mum. To grow and nurture those baby brains we need to nourish them with a high-fat diet. 

babies need a high fat diet for good sleep

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