Renee Sparrow with her baby Summer 7 months. Picture: Adam Head
Renee Sparrow with her baby Summer 7 months. Picture: Adam Head

Common cause of kids’ bedtime tantrums revealed

BABY experts are warning parents of a relatively unknown "silent sleep stealer".

Mums and dads who face bedtime tantrums and poor sleeping habits in their children should consider their iron levels.

Research shows that iron deficiency anaemia is the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world and can impact up to one third of children, messing with their ability to fall asleep and also leading to anxiety and poor behaviour. The peak period for the deficiency is from six to 24 months.

 

 

But Queensland baby sleep consultant Amanda Bude said few parents were aware of the need to monitor iron intake.

"Not all sleep issues in children are easy to pick. Mums that have low iron in pregnancy can affect a baby up to 12 months after birth. Low iron levels cause fatigue but fatigue does not cause sleepiness in small children it actually has the opposite effect and makes it harder for them to fall asleep," Ms Bude said.

"Low iron levels can cause restless leg syndrome and this can make a child wriggle and be very unsettled through the nigh," she said.

Queensland Health recommends that children aged one to three get 9mg of iron a day and those aged four to eight 10mg per day. Iron is an important mineral found in the blood and is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body. There are two types of iron found in the diet, haem iron from animal sources and non - haem iron from plant sources.

Renee Sparrow with her daughter Summer, 7 months. Picture: Adam Head
Renee Sparrow with her daughter Summer, 7 months. Picture: Adam Head

Haem iron is absorbed more efficiently in the body and is found in beef, lamb, pork or poultry and fish. Non-haem can be found in wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables, eggs and peanut butter.

Queensland mum of two Renee Sparrow said her two girls aged seven months and four years were not good sleepers.

"Both of the girls waken several times throughout the night at different times so I do get quite tired. I was unaware that a nutrient deficiency could mess with their sleep and behaviour," she said.