Could What I’m Feeding my Toddler be Keeping them Awake?

Written by Kristen Yarker. Posted in Blog

Could What I’m Feeding my Toddler be Keeping them Awake?

There’s a lot of old wives tales and urban myths about foods and food ingredients either helping or hindering sleep. However, there isn’t strong evidence connecting specific foods and sleep –either preventing sleep or causing kids to fall asleep (and stay asleep).

Here’s a roundup of the most common foods that we hear are connected with sleep.

A Glass of Warm Milk

A glass of warm milk is a classic trick to help kids fall asleep. However, it’s unlikely that it’s the milk itself that makes kids sleepy. What’s more likely is that it’s the routine that gets kids ready for sleep. Kids thrive with routines. It signals to them what’s about to happen next in their world and it tells them what’s expected from them. This includes bedtime routine.

If you choose to have a bedtime snack, have a bedtime snack every day. Serve your child’s bedtime snack in the same place every day (I recommend sitting at the table). Join your child while he/she’s eating and have a conversation. Don’t talk (negotiate) about having two more bites. Instead enjoy the opportunity to connect, perhaps telling stories, talking about your day, etc. Then brush teeth and continue with the rest of the bedtime routine.

Sitting to eat together is an opportunity to connect with each other and wind down from the day. It’s a fantastic way to get kids prepared for falling asleep.


Interestingly, when it’s tested in scientific studies, sugar doesn’t cause kids to be more active. Yet, countless parents can tell you that sugar makes their kids “hyper”. If your little one is having difficulty falling asleep, try keeping sugary treats as occasional daytime foods (as opposed to evening foods) and see if it has an effect on your little ones’ sleep.

Artificial Colours

There is mixed evidence in scientific studies about the effect of artificial colours and the preservative sodium benzoate on kids’ behaviour. Some studies have found that there is no effect on kids’ behavior. Other studies have found that some kids don’t react to these foods but some kids do react. The way to find out if your child is a member of the group of kids who may react, is to eliminate all foods with these additives from your child’s diet for a period of time and see if there’s a change in her/his behavior. Label reading for these foods can be challenging. So, if you’re thinking of testing your child’s reaction to an elimination diet, I recommend working with a dietitian to make sure that you’re catching all food sources and still making sure that your child’s getting all the nutrition that she/he needs.

Food Negotiations

Waking up hungry in the middle of the night can be a side-effect of battling at mealtimes with toddlers who are picky eaters. No-one loves a negotiation like a toddler! Unfortunately, they can enjoy winning the battle so much that they ignore their feelings of hunger resulting in waking up in the middle of the night because they’re hungry.

While it feels awful to hear a child tell you that they’re hungry, resist feeding them a snack in the middle of the night. Feeding snacks in the night rewards kids for not eating at mealtimes. Also, it role models eating snacks in the middle of the night (which we don’t want to encourage). Instead, focus on removing the battles at daytime meals and snacks. How to remove the battles? Well, that’s what I share with parents at my blog. Come check it out!

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD is known as The Dietitian who Transforms Picky Eaters into Food-Confident Kids. Answering the question: “How do I get my child to try new foods?”

Upcoming Seminars with Jennifer Garden

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

SleepdreamsTM Inc. offers sleep seminar courses on sleep for infants and children by Jennifer Garden. Jennifer is the founder of Sleepdreams, is part of the sleep research team at Children's SunnyHill UBC. She is university faculty and practicing Occupational Therapist registered in BC & Alberta. Get the right information on sleep help for your baby or child by a true professional with trusted qualifications. Jennifer presents at international conferences to health care professionals including paediatricians, physicians, therapists, nurses, respiratory therapist, researchers and other health care professionals. Jennifer is interviewed as a trusted expert on sleep across Canada as interviewed by the CBC, Global News, CityTV, and newspapers from coast to coast. Jennifer's clinical practice in paediatric sleep, experience as a mother of twins and abilities as university instructor provide for an informative, interactive and personal sleep seminar.


Summer is upon us and we are focusing on our extremely popular Facebook parties. The cost is absolutely free.


If you would like us to help co-ordinate a seminar in summer 2016, please let us know.



Go to our Seminars Page for more info!

Many Healthcare Plans Cover our Fees

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

As Registered Occupational Therapists specializing in sleep for infants and children, many extended health care plans recognize and cover the cost of our services. Sleep is an activity of daily living and falls within the scope of practice of Registered OT's. Ask your extended health care provider if they cover Occupational Therapy services. If your health care coverage includes an expense account then OT services should be covered within that umbrella of registered health care providers. Our OT's are registered health care providers and specialists in sleep.

Private Practice Fee Survey

Alberta College of Occupational Therapists

College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

Time Change and Sleep

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Blog

Here are some things to help your baby or child to sleep better with the time change this Nov 4th, 2012 as clocks are turned backwards one hour:

  1. 1.Start moving your baby’s sleep schedule by say, 10 to 15 minutes backwards. So if you are normally putting your infant to bed at 7:30 pm, on Nov 4th that would be a shift to 6:30 pm. Start moving it back in 10 minute increments 6 days before the 4th of November. Older children can move back in 15 minute increments 4 days earlier (good luck with Halloween!)
  2. 2.Keep a regular schedule e.g. napping times, eating times, and getting to bed time (accounting for the adjustment period).
  3. 3.Use the natural light to wake up – open the blinds when it’s wake up time.
  4. 4.Get out into the natural light early in the day, this helps set the circadian rhythm.

Helping Your Picky Eater to Eat

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Healthy Kids

Appropriate sleep, especially in the early stages, is influenced greatly by nutrition. Getting more calories into your baby will help them sleep longer through the night. For parents of toddlers, there can be nothing more frustrating than preparing a meal and placing it in front of your child, only to hear “Yuck! I’m not eating that”. A picky eater can quickly turn a happy mealtime into a power struggle, and often the parent loses. Give your child some extra sleep help and try these tips:

  • Eat with your child. Try to eat with your children as much as possible so that they can watch your modelling of how to interact with different foods. By the time a 6 month old is ready to have solid foods, they have probably watched their mother eat at least 600 times.