Ever since we reported the story (many years ago: see below), of a toddler whose bad sleeping was cured by a banana, we've been asked by desperate, sleep-deprived parents if it really works – and how.


So, we've now enlisted a group of parents of sleep-challenged toddlers, umpteen bananas and the expert help of baby and child nutrition guru Charlotte Stirling-Reed to test the banana sleep theory out – and explain the science behind it...

The big MadeForMums test: does a banana at bedtime help toddlers sleep?

To test the banana at bedtime theory, we asked for volunteers from parents in our MadeForMums Community who have toddlers, aged between 15 months and 3½ years, who regularly have trouble sleeping through the night . We got over 100 responses in no time at all!

We asked every parent who responded to give their child half a banana to eat every night before bed as part of their usual bedtime routine, and to report back to us after a week if they'd noticed any improvement in their toddler's sleeping or not. Additionally, we asked 20 of our volunteers to keep a detailed diary to track their child sleep progress (or not!) in more detail.

What was the original banana sleep story?

First published in the Daily Mail, the story was about three-year-old Aaron from Rotherham who was apparently cured of his sleeplessness by eating a banana just before bedtime.

His mum Maryann had previously tried everything to get him to settle – soothing music, orange lights, a heavy quilt, and even prescribed melatonin medication – but nothing helped.

Then a sleep expert advised Maryann to give Aaron half a banana before bed. As soon as the bedtime snack was introduced into his routine, the story goes, Aaron started sleeping through the night from 8pm until 7am.

So, what were the results? A mixed bag, to be honest.

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About half of our bigger tester group (58 out of 100) and slightly more than half (12 out of 20) of our smaller diary group reported a slight or significant improvement in their toddler's sleep.

"This has been a game changer in our lives," said an ecstatically converted Sarah, mum of Henry, 3. "For the first time in months, Henry slept through the night for 4 out of 7 nights. We are amazed!"

Philippa Jane, mum of Rupert, 2, didn't see such huge sleep-pattern changes but was still very pleased. "We found it a massive help" said . "We’re definitely having less get ups. Previously he woke up after 2 hours every night, but with the banana this changed to 4 hours."

But obviously, if half of our testers saw promising results, the other half didn't – or couldn't be sure.

"Our daughter was still up lots in the night unfortunately," said Vicki, mum of Lyla-Mae, 2.

And Fern, mum of Harper, 20 months, was initially optimistic but ended her sleep diary unconvinced. "There was one night where she slept right up until 1.30am from 8.30pm and I was hopeful that we may have turned a corner. But over the week, she pretty much stayed in the same pattern as before, I'm afraid."

The expert view: can a banana before bed really help a toddler sleep?

"There may be some scientific reasons why a banana could help children to sleep better," says child nutrition expert Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

"Bananas are filling and contain plenty of carbohydrates and soluble fibre that might help little ones go to bed feeling satiated. Carbohydrates may also help tryptophan (an amino acid that is linked to sleep) get to the brain.

"Bananas also contain a few nutrients, such as magnesium, tryptophan, potassium and B vitamins, that have all been linked to calm, relaxation and better sleep.

"However, it's important to know that there are multiple things that will affect a toddler's sleep, including things we can't change like their personality and genetics. In all honesty, we don't have much evidence or data to show directly that any particular food, including a banana, will help toddlers sleep better.

"But if a banana works for your toddler, go for it! Do be mindful of the importance of brushing teeth after any bedtime food, though."

About our expert Charlotte Stirling-Reed

Charlotte Stirling-Reed is known as The Baby & Child Nutritionist. She has a first-class degree in Nutrition and Human Biology, as well as a Postgraduate degree in Nutrition and Public Health. She has worked for the NHS, collaborated with celebrity parents Joe Wicks and Giovanna Fletcher, and runs courses for parents including a Toddler Fussy Eating Crash Course

Pic: With thanks to Nazli Tunay from the MadeForMums Community

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