Warm milk before bed…there’s just something about it that conjures up so many warm, comforting and fuzzy feelings. But is it doing your toddler any good?
While some toddlers may still want milk right before going to bed (or even in bed) many sleep experts warn that giving in to these whims may encourage bad habits. Just because your toddler wants milk, it doesn’t mean that he/ she needs it and there is a worry that milk at bedtime can create an association between eating/ drinking and sleep.
While every family should do what suits them, one of the three most common sleep disorders in toddlers is a night time eating or drinking disorder. This can develop if your child is frequently fed amounts that significantly exceed what is needed for nutrition (either through nursing or bottle feeding). Children with this disorder may complain of being “hungry” during the night even though they don’t need any additional sustenance. They may also find it extremely difficult to fall asleep/ return to sleep without eating or drinking. If your child has a wet nappy every time they wake during the night, it could mean that they’re getting too much fluid intake before bedtime/ throughout the night.
Milk before bed can also become a problem when your child uses it to delay going to sleep. Your child may ask for milk or water before bed as a stall tactic to get out of sleeping. When your child is in bed, he may tell you that he needs to use the bathroom – a request that gets him out of bed.
As a drink that is largely connected to their infant days, drinking milk can be a comforting action to a toddler. If your toddler eats and drinks well throughout the days yet still asks for milk at bedtime/ throughout the night, it could be due to association rather than hunger/ thirst. Giving your toddler a familiar toy or baby comforter can be an effective replacement to milk.
Bear in mind that your toddler’s teeth are at most risk at night because there is less saliva in the mouth to protect them. If you do give milk at bedtime/ throughout the night, don’t add anything to it. Milkshake powders usually contain high amounts of sugar which will increase the risk of tooth decay.
Ensuring that your family achieves good quality sleep is a majorly important part of parenthood. You can read how our happy clients have overcome their babies’ sleeping issues here with the help of our award winning Sleepytot baby comforter.