Foods to help children sleep

All the foods on this list contain an amino acid called tryptophan. Eating these foods helps your body to produce a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps to regulate sleep.

Sleepy foods

Milk and milk products

Traditional milk products (warm), yogurt and soya milk


Chicken and turkey


Cod, tuna, mackerel and salmon


Cheddar, processed cheese and cottage cheese


Apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, avocado, pineapples and peaches


Spinach, asparagus, green peas, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers and potatoes


Walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts and almonds


Ground flax, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds


Mung beans, soya beans, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas and tofu


Wheat, brown rice, red rice, barley, corn and oats


Wholewheat bread

Podcast on sleepy foods

Kerry and Gina talk about the sleepy foods that can help your child naturally produce melatonin in the run-up to bedtime and what makes a good bedtime snack.

Play Sleepy Foods (11 minutes)

Download transcript of Sleepy Foods

Sleepy flapjacks recipe

Try our recipe for sleepy flapjacks:

  • 150 grams of oats
  • 150 grams of peanut butter
  • 100 grams of honey

1. Melt peanut butter, mix in oats and honey (optional)

2. Spread onto a greased baking sheet.

3. Cook for 20 minutes at 175 or gas mark 5.

4. Refrigerate for 2 hours and store in fridge.

Banana cookies video

Video transcript

Karen: Hello good morning, my name's Karen and today I'm going to show you how easy it is to make some sleepy snacks. Now today in particular, we're going to make banana cookies. Now, banana cookies contain some of the sleepy foods that we recommend that help to induce sleep at night. So, all the ingredients contain Tryptophan, which is an amino acid which will then help to convert to melatonin once it's digested. Now melatonin, you might ask, what is that? Well that is a hormone that's made in the pineal gland in the brain, and that then gets released into our body and helps to make us sleep and keep us asleep through the night. So, this is why we're encouraging you to try and make some snacks for your child before they go to bed. Now I've got a wonderful helper today. Say hello Dylan.

Dylan: Hi ya! Now this is Dylan.

Karen: He's 14, and he's my son and he's going to help because we want to show you just how easy it is to do. Right. Get your mixing bowl Dylan. Good boy. Now first of all we need 2 overripe bananas. And overripe, looking like this. Too nice to eat once. Peel. Stick them in a bowl, mash them up and make them into something that is nice.

So, Dylan's going to mash the bananas up for us. Just mash them up really, really nice and soft. Now, once there soft and at the right consistency we're then going to add 150 grams of oats, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a tablespoon of honey.

Now honey, even though it's sweet, is a natural sweetener. We don't recommend other sweet things at bedtime because they stimulate the brain and prevent the melatonin from being produced sufficiently. So, it's easy to use something with natural sweetener instead. So, I'm just helping Dylan to finish mashing. There's a little bit of black there. So, we'll just take that out. You're doing really well, so just want to finish off.

OK, so you're doing really well. So, we talk about bedtime routines a lot in the job that we do. Now, Dylan is a really good sleeper, probably because his mom is a sleep practitioner, but also because he knows that when he goes to bed, it's important that he gets enough sleep so we have a really good bedtime routine. We have lots of calming down time. We don't have any technology in the hour or so before bed. Dylan normally will have milk and a rice pudding for his supper snack. He normally will have a warm bath and then we tend to play Uno as our wind down time. Dylan loves the card game Uno. He's actually really good at it normally beats me and Dad, and that's what we do. And then he gets into bed and is usually asleep within 10...15 minutes. So brilliant. Can't ask for anymore. Unfortunately, Dylan gets up really early the next morning. Don’t you Dylan? About 6:00am, so the days are long, but he normally still has about 11...12 hours sleep from the night before, so we really cannot complain. OK, Dylan, how are we doing? I think that's mashed. Epic. Right, come stand away a little bit so we can see you in the camera. OK, that's fantastic banana mashing you are a super, super helper now we'll add the oats, pop those in. OK, now will use the spoon. We'll add the peanut butter. Would you like to do that?

Dylan: Yes

Karen: Pop that in, out of the bowl. It's a bit sticky.

Dylan: Yes, it’s really sticky mum, isn’t it?

Karen: Yeah, that we've more or less got that in. You keep holding the spoon. We'll pour that honey in. And now Dylan, once we start stirring, it is going to be really tricky, so you will have to use your muscles. OK, can you use your muscles Dylan yet? You've got really strong muscles and you need to stir that round as much as you can. Say you can have a go using your muscles. Now it needs to be a really smooth consistency. I mean it doesn't matter at all if you can make it as smooth as possible. We will then put it on a baking sheet that's already been greased up. Or you can use greaseproof paper. Once we're ready it's going to go in the oven at 180 for about 15 to 20 minutes, when I made them previously, I added an extra 5 minutes because they weren't really firm enough. So, I thought that I'd give them an extra 5 minutes. Wow, I wish I got these muscles. Just get the mixture down from the side as well to make sure you don't leave any out. So, that's it, add it all in. Amazing. Bet we are going to have so much fun trying this, aren't we Dylan?

Dylan: Of course, we are.

Karen: Are you going to have a bite when it's all cooked and ready?

Dylan: No

Karen: Why not?

Dylan: I will.

Karen: Dylan says he will but it's more likely that he won't. Dylan's not very good with new flavours and things he hasn't tried before.

Dylan: I just don’t like bananas

Karen: He doesn't like bananas, but he's also never tried peanut butter or honey, so I'm going to do my best to get him to take a bite, and specially he's even more determined when he's participated and made something himself, so fingers crossed he's going to take a little bite and we can do the taste challenge once it's cooked, can't we? Let everybody know how good our banana cookies are. Right, just get those little bits around the edge, we're nearly done now. So great to have a helper that's so strong and is really good at mixing, that’s really good.

Dylan: Thank you mummy. I love you.

Karen: You're welcome. Keep mixing. Bring it forward a little bit. Doing brilliantly. Right Dylan. I think we're probably ready now to put it onto the tray. Do you want to start doing that or shall I?

Dylan: I’ll do it if you hold the bowl

Karen: OK, we do it like this. I'll tip it off and you smooth it all down. That'll be easier. We need to empty all the mixture onto the tray like this. OK? Putting the mixing bowl right in front of the camera, that's not very helpful is it. Sorry folks! Right, now... Just smooth it down like that all over the tray. You can actually see some of the banana in there, can't you? Might get this spoon or fork and help just to spread that down. Wow! I think this is going to be a taste sensation, Dylan. Do you? Right Dylan's getting rather excited now. So, we will put it in the oven, and we will come back shortly, to give you a tasting. Hello, here we are back again having cooked our banana cookies. Look at those Dylan. Do you think they look nice?

Dylan: Yeah

Karen: Right, are we going to try them? Are we going to have a little bite, Dylan?

Dylan: I think I will.

Karen: That's fantastic. Actually, there are still quite hot. So, I'll go first. Delicious. Why? OK, you pick it up yourself? You don't want it. Dylan's going to try, but like I said before, he's not very good with new tastes. But if you were to eat all that, you'd fall asleep just like that. Yeah. Really, really nice. I hope we've been able to show you how easy it is to make banana cookies in like 10 to 15 minutes. You've always got to have a good helper with you, with lots of muscles. So, hope to see you again soon. Take care. Bye bye, say bye bye.

Dylan: Bye!

Last reviewed by Scope on: 29/08/2023

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