AHEAD of the new school term, a sleep expert reveals what parents can do during the day to help children settle into a stress-free evening routine

The consultant psychologist and sleep expert has revealed three daytime tips to help children sleep better in the evening, ahead of the new school year.

Chireal Shallow - in partnership with skincare company Bloom and Blossom - has given advice to parents anxious about getting children back into a 'positive routine' after the summer holidays.

She recommends a game of hide and seek in the bedroom, eating cottage cheese with raspberries and a foot massage an hour before bed as just some of the ways parents can create a positive association with bedtime for children.

She added: “Playing hide and seek helps to create a familiarity with the bedroom, allowing children to take ownership of the space, and create a feeling of purpose and love.

"The more time spent in their bedroom during the day, the better association they have with it at nighttime.

"Feeding children snacks such as cottage cheese before bed may sound absurd, but it is full of the amino acid tryptophan, which can increase serotonin levels.

"Top the cheese with raspberries to appeal to a child’s sweet tooth, as these are rich sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

"A foot massage every night an hour before bed can also help anxious and nervous children feel calm and settled.”

Other top tips for a stress-free bedtime routine:

Leave them a surprise

Leave a surprise everyday; this way your child will look forward to seeing it at bedtime.

Lie down with children on their bedroom floor

Getting a feel for what a child experiences in their room, can be vital to understanding their experiences.

Ask yourself if it feels like a calm space, or if there are any objects which may look different at night.

For example, your child may have a backpack hung up, which may look scary in the dark - invest in a personalised one, which they can take pride in and allows them to feel unafraid.

Create a storybook

Together with your child, create a storybook of their daily routine.

This can be everything from pictures of them brushing their teeth to the clothes they are wearing.

Ultimately, this then becomes their bedtime book, and is a storyboard of their daytime routine, where they can reflect on musings from the day.

Read a bedtime story

It’s an age-old tradition and one which works. This is a special bonding time and will help your child to feel relaxed and at ease.

A great book to try if your child is new to school is ‘Starting School’ by Janet and Allen Ahlberg, which offers tips and advice in a fun way.

Create a bedtime box

Put inside the things that children need to feel safe and help them sleep at night. For example, books, favourite toys and pictures of family.

Check with your child

Ask how they’re feeling, and if they feel safe and comfortable when they climb in bed. Check on the surroundings, such as the amount of light in the room, and increase/decrease accordingly.

Hang up family photos

Place family photos around your child’s bedroom, so if they wake during the night, they’re immediately comforted.

Invest in a good mattress

Ensuring your child is supported in a physical manner helps to aid their mental and emotional wellbeing too.