1

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Is gluten keeping my toddler awake?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 21, 2011 at 9:43 PM

My kids aren't gluten-free or grain-free, but I've been noticing that when my 19-month old eats the food her daycare provider serves (organic, but wheat heavy--like crackers, pretzels, chicken nuggets), she's up every hour or two at least until 1 or 2 in the morning. If she eats what I send, which doesn't include wheat, but still might include minimal grain (snacky things, white rice mixed into yogurt), she sleeps like a log.

I feel like this might be the holy grail of parenting. Is it possible that it's this simple, that gluten is what has kept my daughter from sleeping through the night? (Looking back, she slept through the night from about 3 weeks to about 5 months... about when she started eating solid food. I don't think she had grains until maybe 7 or 8 months, though.)

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on June 08, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Well, I'm 25, and gluten keeps me awake ^^ If I manage to sleep, I toss and turn, punch my boyfriend in the face, put my arm on his face, kick him, crawl over him... yeah...

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:12 PM

My daycare provider is great. We struggle because of my little one's stubborn personality and desire to eat what the other kids are having, but she's been really good. This is definitely what I'm going to do!

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:10 PM

I'm definitely on board with a lot of natural family living practices. I nursed my oldest until she was four, and this one is still nursing and I've got no plans to wean her. I don't mind the night wakings when it's a couple of times and I totally agree with you about our society about "sleeping through the night"--I've deflected a lot of questions about "is she a good baby? does she sleep through the night?". What I do struggle with is night wakings every hour or two, especially when it's not a regular pattern.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:06 PM

Gosh, that's REALLY interesting. I had night terrors until I was in my late 20's, and the last time I had a sleep walking episode was when I was around 30. I never thought of the connection because my mom was also that way so I just totally assumed it was a hereditary quirk.

Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

(5541)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:51 AM

The "freaked out" thing hit home hard with me. I had night terrors as a child and have only recently pinpointed gluten as the cause of just about all of my health problems, including poor sleep. Talking to my parents about my childhood, I was throwing up constantly, had terrible ear infections all the time and was off the wall hyper in addition to never sleeping. I was basically on antibiotics the first few years of my life and I truly believe I'm still paying for it now. Thanks for bringing up the sleep anxiety thing. +1

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5 Answers

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0
B2e7d32d88eefb6c30360fef9fda4240

on October 22, 2011
at 12:27 AM

My 18 month old is gluten-free, and grain-free apart from the odd rice cracker at his Nana's house, and he is a frequent night waker! I've got a few friends with young gluten-free children and they're all night wakers, so sorry, removing gluten isn't necessarily going to make your child sleep through the night.

It's interesting to me how much energy our culture expends on trying to get children to sleep through. For young babies (less than 1 year), I really don't think sleeping through the night is desirable. Breastfed babies need to be feeding every 2-3 hours, including overnight! A tiny baby should not be going 12 hours without milk. In primitive, and non-western societies today, babies and young children sleep with their mothers and have access to the breast around the clock. These babies are not going to be sleeping through the night! Of the women I know who co-sleep and breastfeed on demand, it seems usual for children to start sleeping through the night around the age of two. My eldest started sleeping through at this time. My 18 month old sleeps in our bed and feeds frequently through the night - I'm only vaguely aware of it as I'm still half-asleep.

Apart from the sleep, I do see definite behavioural changes in my children when they eat gluten. My eldest is four, and if he has anything containing gluten he has a major screaming-on-the-floor meltdown within 5-10 minutes. I would definitely get rid of the gluten in your kid's diets, and preferably all grains -we've seen a lot of improvements in our boys since we did.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:10 PM

I'm definitely on board with a lot of natural family living practices. I nursed my oldest until she was four, and this one is still nursing and I've got no plans to wean her. I don't mind the night wakings when it's a couple of times and I totally agree with you about our society about "sleeping through the night"--I've deflected a lot of questions about "is she a good baby? does she sleep through the night?". What I do struggle with is night wakings every hour or two, especially when it's not a regular pattern.

3
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on October 21, 2011
at 10:35 PM

I think it's absolutely possible.

I've also noticed changes in my daughter's behavior when she returns from daycare. Sometimes she skips her nap and there are other behavioral changes too (kicking during a diaper change, hyperactivity) that NEVER happen any other time.

Honestly? I would get the grains out of the house entirely and I would talk with your daycare provider about providing gluten-free food. If they're already committed to organic, then they are probably not going to flinch at this request. Or just be ultra-good about packing a lunch for your little one.

I'm also really, really curious about colic in babies and grains/gluten. Acid reducers are being prescribed to babies in droves, and I just can't help but wonder.

1
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 22, 2011
at 02:59 AM

I think it is certainly possible, and you can find out for certain by testing! Commit to sending her to daycare with gluten free options for several weeks, and be sure the daycare is on board with your plan. After a few strict gluten free weeks, go heavy on the gluten, and be very observant...you should have the information you need after about 72 gluten indulging hours...

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:12 PM

My daycare provider is great. We struggle because of my little one's stubborn personality and desire to eat what the other kids are having, but she's been really good. This is definitely what I'm going to do!

1
9f161572b637aaa94df427a46156fb74

on October 21, 2011
at 11:35 PM

I found that my children were better sleepers when we went Gluten and then ultimately grain free. My daughter who was 11always at the morning time, was always anxious at night. She couldn't get to sleep and then would get freaked out about every little thing. My son, 9yo, on the other hand would fall asleep but was a light sleeper and would often sleep walk including sleep peeing! In the closet, off the balcony or inchalice the bathcloset tub all totally asleep. He would barely remember it in the morning. This fun all stopped when we went Gluten free. It happened rather quickly, so you could try it and see how it works.

Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

(5541)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:51 AM

The "freaked out" thing hit home hard with me. I had night terrors as a child and have only recently pinpointed gluten as the cause of just about all of my health problems, including poor sleep. Talking to my parents about my childhood, I was throwing up constantly, had terrible ear infections all the time and was off the wall hyper in addition to never sleeping. I was basically on antibiotics the first few years of my life and I truly believe I'm still paying for it now. Thanks for bringing up the sleep anxiety thing. +1

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on October 22, 2011
at 12:06 PM

Gosh, that's REALLY interesting. I had night terrors until I was in my late 20's, and the last time I had a sleep walking episode was when I was around 30. I never thought of the connection because my mom was also that way so I just totally assumed it was a hereditary quirk.

0
Cc7381bd787721575ea9198048132adb

on October 22, 2011
at 12:45 AM

Absolutely yes, it is that simple. What you've been doing, knowingly or not, is a science experiment, albeit a statistically insignificant one but significant to you and your kid's health. If you notice they feel better without gluten, avoid it as much as possible. It's tough with kids that young but definitely possible.

Your kid's symptoms mirror my own perfectly. I sleep terribly when I eat gluten and for about 3 days afterwards. I have a really hard time falling asleep and I wake up during the night 3-4 times, waking in the morning feeling like I didn't sleep a wink. This is in addition to a plethora of GI issues, sore joints, headaches and just all around feeling crappy. When I avoid gluten I sleep like a freaking rock, have awesome dreams and wake up feeling like a million bucks. I've tested negative for Celiac's 3 times now (stupid IgG tests) but have yet to have a biopsy, mostly because you need to be eating gluten to get a reliable result and I avoid the stuff as much as possible.

You sound like an amazing parent by the way. Keep it up.

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