Thursday, January 6, 2011

DAY 94 - Sleeping Like a Baby is Not Always Great

photo courtesy of xlibber at Flickr Commons
While it is generally true that infants sleep more soundly and peacefully than adults, and while it is also true that there are few sights more calming and beautiful than that of a little one at rest, not all babies sleep like a baby.

If you doubt me, ask an exhausted new mother, or the weary parents of a 2 year-old who still doesn’t sleep through the night.

It is common for newborns to wake frequently, being fussy, and appearing hungry. The usual assumption is that the infant is not getting enough nourishment. In many cases, the waking and fussiness are not from insufficient food, but rather from food that does not agree with the child’s digestive and immune systems.

Given that most of us would think that breast milk would be the perfect food, and some would think that a medically approved formula must surely be good for the child, few of us realize that each may cause distress, pain and aberrant sleep in a newborn or infant. Clearly, breast milk is the finest food for a newborn; but the content of breast milk is altered by the foods that the mother consumes, and can have disastrous effects on the comfort and health of the nursing infant. Formulas, even medically approved, commonly cause gastric and other distress in infants.

When foods have not been considered, nor ruled out as causes of disturbed sleep, a family often simply accommodates to the dysfunction and the harmful effect on the household, and lives with the idea that this is just a quirk of this child. As months and years roll by, the problems which often expand beyond the initial sleep disturbance, are explained by – “he has always been this way...”

Good sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

If your baby is not sleeping like a baby; find out why not, and think foods.


  1. Great topic. Those who preach "breastmilk is best" should give the disclaimer that that only applies to conscientious, healthy moms. I had an interesting breastfeeding journey because my daughter was in the NICU for 3 months. I won't bore you with the details, but it was tough and I was misinformed. Several nurses told me to pump as much as I could. I did. The result - too much watery foremilk, which is more lactose concentrated, and gave my daughter belly aches. Would love to know your thoughts on the supposed dangers of soy milk for infants.

  2. Deanna,
    Soy can be a powerful allergen for many infants.
    The stress from having ones child in a NICU can influence the breastmilk.
    Dr. Young