October 21, 2014

Most parents will agree sleep is a complete luxury that is undervalued and unrecognised until you have kids. 

Once you are blessed with kids, sleep turns into an illusive concept you dearly want to become intimate with, yet never seem to grasp!

First there are the sleepless nights as your pregnancy turns comfort into an unknown (no matter how many pillows are used for propping various body parts).

Then your magnificent baby introduces you to a whole new perspective of the wee hours of the pre-dawn morning.

And just when you think things are easing and your baby sleeps through the night, your precious little one turns into a toddler and bedtime becomes a whole new kettle of fish!

Quite often these sleep issues continue well into school aged years… then they become teenagers and yet again, the goal posts shift dramatically.

Never fear!  There is a solution to your child’s sleep problems… and it’s not what you think!

The key to a calm sleeping child – whether a toddler or a grown up school kid – comes down to one thing… Food.

Now I’m not talking about capturing that mystical moment before they’re too tired to sleep or too hungry to eat.  And it’s got nothing to do with never sending your kid to bed on an empty tummy.  I’m talking about what you use to fuel your kidlet – any time of the day.

You most likely know that chocolate before bed is not such a flash idea as the caffeine kicks in and takes over your kidlet’s personality.

But what about certain unnatural and natural food elements we often think are completely harmless or even healthy?

Did you know that a simple piece of fruit or glass of juice could mess with your child’s sleep patterns and ability to go to sleep?  Or that an innocent tub of flavoured yoghurt or a home cooked stir fry dinner can make your child restless, irritable and unable to sleep well?

Without getting too much into the nitty gritty, let’s take a closer look at what might be causing the problem with your sleepless kidlet.

Artificial colouring

Artificial colours are just simply one great big recipe for disaster that results in sleepless kids.

They can be found in just about any food kids eat – from flavoured yoghurt to breakfast cereal and almost anything in between.

Food colouring is a major contributor to unwanted symptoms such as sleeplessness, night terrors and tantrums before bedtime.

Whilst artificial colouring might be obvious in brightly coloured cupcakes and lollies, beware, as they are often also lurking in things as simple as fruit juice or store bought sauces you use in your dinner (e.g.: soy sauce or tomato sauce).


Aside from being linked to several adverse physical reactions such as breathing and skin issues (think eczema, asthma), preservatives can also cause hyperactivity – something I’m sure you will agree is far from a calm sleepy kidlet at bedtime.

Again, they can be lurking in seemingly harmless foods such as yoghurts, noodles, and the sauces you use in your dinner or the drinks you give your child.

Artificial sweeteners

Plenty of processed foods will claim they are healthy and sugar free to entice you to purchase them for your kidlets.

The problem is the artificial sweeteners used in place of sugar are far worse offenders when it comes to child behaviour.

Hyperactivity and sleep disturbance are just the tip of the iceberg here.  Such nasties will be in anything from yoghurts to muesli bars, biscuits and sauces.

Salicylates, Glutamates, Flavour Enhancers

Salicylates are a natural pesticide found in natural fresh foods, usually in the skin or in unripe fruits e.g.: tomatoes, berries, citrus and therefore jams, sauces and juices.

Glutamates are acids found naturally in some foods (such as strong cheese, tomatoes and soy sauce) or manufactured to enhance flavour in processed foods (sometimes known as MSG, flavour enhancers or fermented proteins).

So simple things such as fresh fruits, flavoured yoghurts, two minute noodles and sauces can send your child far from the land of nod.

The essence of time

The effects of these additives and natural food elements can occur almost immediately after consuming the food, or take several days or weeks to rear their ugly heads.

So the timing is not the issue, it’s the actual food your kidlet eats that creates the problem.  One or two doses of certain foods or additives in any form can send your kids down the wrong path to la la land, no matter when they eat them.

So what to do?

Put simply, how can you expect your little one (or big one!) to behave calmly, have balanced emotions and sleep well if they are being fueled with stimulants that do quite the opposite?

If you are after a calm happy kidlet that goes to bed easily and sleeps well throughout the night, the key is to change the way they eat.

Start checking labels, stick to fresh whole foods and eliminate the additives from your child’s daily intake.  If you’re still not seeing the results you want, dig a little deeper and look at the ‘good’ foods they are eating (e.g.: salicylates in fruits).

Make sure the majority of your child’s food consists of fresh vegetables and clean pure foods, and not only will you have calm happy kids who sleep well at night, but you’ll rediscover the lost art of sleeping too!  It’s a win win!

Wishing you healthy happy kids and sweet dreams!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • A very very interesting article. Just confirms the poisonous effect these additives and preservatives have on our bodies and subsequently our lives. Keep it clean people, fresh hone made food all the way!


  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!


  • I think I need try cut some of the artificial stuff out of everyone’s diets!


  • The only good thing about food colouring is putting into the bath tub for magic bath! Add a little lavender or whatever and you will make bath time fun.


  • Fine article – thank you.


  • good advice, adding to her points do some massage while sleeping, it would help


  • thanks for sharing the interesting read


  • Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative article; some fantastic comments too! Such a wealth of information from Mom’s. :)


  • I totally agree with everything you have said here.
    I was once a Youth Leader/ Director for Children’s Holiday Camps and had a real battle with the “Cook” who was very set in her ways with dreadful food combinations and chocolate drinks before bed! I finally won the battle when I presented to the Administrator a full menu of healthier options. The children on the next camps were much easier to get to bed and wake on time and had energy to enjoy the variety of activities. The “cook” was happy as she had less preparation for meals as there were more fruit and vegetable options. Sometimes one just has to stand their ground to make positive changes.

    • that is amazing, good on ya for making that change,


  • Oh wow – some great advice here. Thank you for that information and we will be sure to take it on board. Thanks again.


  • easier said than done


  • Great tips, thank you.


  • Some really good advice. I’ll keep this in mind & check labels more thoroughly.


  • My 7 month old will not sleep from birth, no one can help me :(

    • I am not being judgemental, I am just wondering what you are feeding your baby with, or if you are breastfeeding what she is absorbing from your milk. She may be getting too much energy food for her age. Is she played with or talked to a lot just before being put down for a sleep? Of she is a very restless baby could she have a slight allergy to any food or product you use in your house or have contact with elsewhere on a regular basis. If you attend a Mothers Group you could bring it up in a discussion and see if anybody has any suggestions. There may be another Mum who is having the same problem now or previously and you can share ideas you have all tried. Somebody else’s ideas may be your solution.


  • I’ve been convinced for some time that my son’s behaviour (and possibly sleep issues and bedwetting (he is 8)) are related to food. But that said it’s so overwhelming that I never manage to get anywhere with it and end up giving up. I know he reacts to artificial colours – and almost instantly. As soon as he has some he goes crazy. Also 160b too. But trying to eliminate other additives, preservatives and not to mention Salicylates, Glutamates, Flavour Enhancers seems to have been put in the too hard basket for me.

    • Do you let your son have fizzy drinks at all? That can cause bedwetting. Some fruit juices may be a problem too.
      When you are buying products check the labels…..every time. A friend of ours is highly Gluten intolerant. He bought a product which was previously gluten free, only ate a few mouthfuls and had a crook stomach for nearly a week. On that occasion he didn’t check the label because the one he bought a week before was labelled gluten free.
      Some products are labelled -may contain traces of…….a trace of some products is enough to affect some people

      • Hi Mom72550. Yes it can be so overwhelming and many people end up putting it in the too hard basket – you’re not alone! The most important thing I’ve discovered is that the change itself is the hardest part – there are so many things to learn and think about and combine that with a whole new way of eating and shopping and suddenly it’s very difficult. That’s why I developed a program to help families with all the hard bits so it is manageable – guiding you to learn the things that are best for your family at a pace you can handle, whilst still focussing on making it a lasting change. The benefits are so worth it! Especially as it means you end up with kids that are calm and happy and show far more manageable behaviours :-) If you would like some help, please feel free to contact me or check out my website consultation page, which outlines how I tailor programs (far more than just what to eat and what to buy) to make the change easier (links and details for my website are at the bottom of this article). You have overcome one of the biggest hurdles already by recognising there is a link between your son’s behaviour and food. That awareness and motivation is a great start! Good luck with your journey and please know I am happy to help if you need! Thank you so much for sharing! Loren x
        PS thank you to June11 also for your very informative comment! Deciphering labels is an art form and the number one rule is definitely don’t believe the front of the package, always read the ingredients and warnings (and even then know they can be missing key ingredients if less than 5% of the product)! If in doubt, don’t buy it, or stick to certified (by reputable processes) products or eat fresh whole foods :-) I have an eBook coming out shortly on gluten free eating so keep an eye out on my social media or website pages for more info if you need! Thanks again June11. Loren x


Post a comment
Like Facebook page

LIKE MoM on Facebook

Please enter your comment below
Would you like to include a photo?

No picture uploaded yet
Please wait to see your image preview here before hitting the submit button.

Your MoM account

Lost your password?

Enter your email and a password below to post your comment and join MoM:

↥ Back to top

Thanks For Your Star Rating!

Would you like to add a written rating or just submit?

Write A Rating Just Submit