Why You Shouldnt Give Your Child Melatonin
Putting your child to sleep may be your favorite routine or your worst nightmare depending on your kids inclination to sleep! Often, you are exhausted, your child refuses to sleep or sleeps fitfully through the night and you are tempted to give them something.
Many parents consider over-the-counter medications to help with their kids 40 winks, but is that really a good idea? Most doctors do not agree, and their reasons are fair! Although doctors prescribe melatonin in kids who have insomnia along with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , melatonin should not be used in the following cases:
- Healthy children without sleep problems to promote restful sleep
- Teenagers in an attempt to force sleep onset to accommodate early school start times
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Is It Ever Safe For Kids To Take Melatonin
Most of the reports in the CDC study were about kids age 5 or younger, and 99 percent of cases occurred at home. Given that, both experts said, the trend is likely a result of more parents purchasing melatonin supplements and storing them in places kids can reach.
“One year to 4 years those are the curious years,” Osterhoudt said. “Thats when children can now walk and climb and get into places that their parents werent ready for them to get into. So they find things and explore the world by putting things into their mouth.”
Since melatonin is considered a dietary supplement in the U.S., it does not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration and can be purchased over the counter.
Because of that lack of regulation, Osterhoudt said, “oftentimes the amount of melatonin in the products will be less or more than we think that were getting.”
There’s also a possibility of “other ingredients in the pill or the liquid that were taking that we are unaware of and that arent disclosed on the label,” he added.
That can make it difficult to determine how much melatonin a child has actually ingested.
There’s also still debate about melatonin’s effectiveness for kids and adults.
“It is thought that short-term use of melatonin can be helpful in treating people with sleep disorders or jetlag,” Osterhoudt said, though he added that “we could use more research on how supplementing these hormones over long periods of time might affect the body.”
Is Melatonin Safe For Babies
Melatonin is not recommended for infants. Melatonin concentrations are quite low in babies 3 months and younger, and their circadian systems are still developing. At this time, there are no long-term studies on melatonin use in babies.
If your infant struggles to sleep, talk to your pediatrician. They can help you identify possible causes and develop a treatment plan.
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Mom Is Giving Her Toddler Melatonin Is This Safe
Dear Amy: Over the last couple of months, a close single-mom friend of mine has very nonchalantly mentioned that shell give her toddler a melatonin supplement before bedtime a few times a month so the toddler wont wake up in the night while my friend is out partying.
In my opinion, using any sort of substance, natural or otherwise, to get your child to sleep simply because you want to go out is horribly selfish and irresponsible on so many levels.
I feel like the adult thing to do would be to talk to my friend about it, but she is having a hard enough time as a single mom and is pretty sensitive.
How do I go about telling her how much this is bothering me without offending her?
Im at the point I dont want to pick up the phone when she calls.
Appalled & Concerned
Dear Appalled: Regarding the use of melatonin with young children, I shared your question with Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin.
Dr. Navsaria responds: Melatonin plays a role in sleep and is produced by the body there are no clear guidelines for supplemental use in children, but its generally recognized as safe at low doses. Occasional use as a part of treating consistent sleep problems is likely fine, preferably as advised by a health care professional.
Melatonin is not a sedative, so we always emphasize that surroundings amenable to sleep are key when taking supplemental melatonin.
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Create A Bedtime Routine
Help your child relax before bed with meditation, music, reading, or other soothing activities. “What the actual routines are can be specific to your child and age, but they should occur each night around the same time,” says the AAP. “This will help your child understand that it’s time to settle down and get ready to sleep.”
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Finally Dont Panic Also Dont Be Hard On Yourself If Youve Been Giving Your Child Melatonin To Sleep
Were all trying our best. You are not a bad parent for wanting to help your child sleep soundly. At the same time, its always important to be aware about the potential dangers of melatonin. Remember to keep ALL medications, including supplements, locked safely away from children.
Is Melatonin Safe For Kids A Look At The Evidence
Unfortunately, poor sleep can affect a childs mood and ability to pay attention and learn. It has also been linked to health issues such as childhood obesity .
This is why some parents consider giving their children melatonin, a hormone and popular sleep aid.
Though its considered safe for adults, you may wonder if your child can safely take melatonin.
This article explains whether kids can safely take melatonin supplements.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brains pineal gland.
Often referred to as the sleep hormone, it helps your body get ready for bed by setting your internal clock, also called the circadian rhythm .
Melatonin levels rise in the evening, which lets your body know its time to head to bed. Conversely, melatonin levels start to fall a few hours before its time to wake up.
Interestingly, this hormone plays a role in other functions besides sleep. It helps regulate your blood pressure, body temperature, cortisol levels and immune function (
In the US, melatonin is available over-the-counter at many drug and health food stores.
People take melatonin to cope with a variety of sleep-related issues, such as:
- Sleep disorders related to mental health
- Delayed sleep phase syndrome
- Circadian rhythm disorders
However, in other parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand and many European countries, melatonin is only available with a prescription.
Many parents wonder if melatonin supplements can help their child fall asleep.
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Things To Know About Melatonin For Kids
Melatonin does help kids fall asleepbut its not appropriate for every child.
If youve never heard of melatonin for kids, then you probably arent someone who searches the internet for solutions to your kids sleep problems.
Barely talked about among parents even just a decade ago, melatonin is quickly becoming a go-to sleep solution for kids. Its easily accessible, and is being promoted as a sleep aid, says Burlington, Ont.-based sleep consultant Alanna McGinn. Health Canada classifies melatonin as a natural health product, which means you can buy it at the pharmacy or a health food store, without a prescription. Youll find it in the same spot you pick up your vitamin D or iron supplements.
With moms in Facebook groups championing the benefits and many paediatricians giving it the A-OK, youre bound to wonder if it might just be that miracle fix youve been hoping for when it comes to your kids sleep. Heres what you should know.
When Should Melatonin Not Be Used
As mentioned above, children lose sleep for many reasons. Avoid melatonin:
- if the insomnia is situational
- if the insomnia is short-term
- if the insomnia is due to an underlying physical cause
- if your child is younger than 3.
Melatonin should never substitute for healthy sleep practices: a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtime routine, no caffeine, and no electronics or screens before bedtime.
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If Youve Decided To Use Melatonin With Your 2
Because melatonin is not approved by the FDA as a sleep aid in children, before you give it to your toddler, it is imperative that you talk it over with your pediatrician. Once youve gotten the go-ahead, start with the smallest dose possible. Most kids respond to 0.5 1 milligram. Start with 0.5, and see how your toddler does. You can increase by 0.5 milligrams every few days until you find the right dose.
In addition to giving the right amount of melatonin, its equally important to give it at the right time. If your toddler has a hard time falling asleep, experts recommend giving them their dose about 1-2 hours before bedtime. But some kids need help with the sleep/wake cycle throughout the night. In these cases, pediatric sleep expert Dr. Craig Canapari suggests a low dose at dinnertime. It can really depend on why your toddler needs melatonin, so definitely talk to your pediatrician about the right time to administer it, too.
Melatonin Dosage For Kids
Melatonin comes in liquid, gummies, chewables, capsules, and tablets. Gummies are usually easiest for children to take. But don’t just grab a bottle off the shelf. There are no established guidelines for melatonin dosing for children, so be sure to get a recommendation from your child’s doctor.
Usually, you’ll start with a low dose and work your way up if necessary. The dose amount depends on the type of sleep problem. For a circadian phase delay , beginning doses of 0.2 to 0.5 mg are usually most effective, while for sleep onset insomnia , 1 mg to 3 mg in children and 5 mg in teens are appropriate dosages.
When you give the medication also depends on the sleep problem you’re addressing. If your child has sleep-onset insomnia, it’s recommended that you give them the supplement close to bedtime. If they have a circadian phase delay , your child’s doctor may recommend giving them melatonin one to three hours before bedtime.
If melatonin doesn’t help after your child uses it for a week or so, your child’s provider may suggest increasing the dosage. There’s no official maximum dosage, but most children don’t need more than 6 mg of melatonin, and the maximum dose for children with neurodevelopmental disorders is 10 mg.
There’s also sustained-release melatonin, which your child’s doctor may recommend if your child has difficulty staying asleep. Short-acting melatonin is recommended for children who have trouble falling asleep.
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Is It Safe To Give Kids Melatonin
Does your child have difficulty sleeping? Then perhaps you’ve considered melatonin for kids, a supplement version of a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate sleep.
Video of the Day
But before you give your kid this sleep aid, talk to your doctor. Discussing your child’s sleep issues and the best melatonin dosage for your kid will help make sure they receive the help they need to get solid shut-eye.
While more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of melatonin in children, a small 0.5- to 1-milligram dose of the supplement about 30 to 90 minutes before bed may help your child get better sleep. Kids under 3 years old should not take melatonin.
How Effective Is Melatonin For Sleep Problems In Children
The overall effects of melatonin for children include falling asleep more quickly and an increase in sleep time. Like all medicines used to help children fall asleep, there is fairly limited information available. This means that most studies have small groups followed for short periods of time. Furthermore, melatonin not regulated as a pharmaceutical in the U.S. Thus, there is no large pharmaceutical company bankrolling larger and long-term studies . Rather it is regulated as a food supplement by the FDA. For a terrific review, including dosing recommendations, I highly recommend this article by Bruni et al.
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Side Effects Of Melatonin
Melatonin is considered relatively safe for short-term use and has few risks. However, some children who take melatonin supplements may experience mild symptoms. These symptoms may include bedwetting, drowsiness, headaches, and agitation.
Currently, there is little research on the long-term effects of melatonin use in children. Some experts question if melatonin, because it is a hormone, can affect other hormonal development in adolescents. Further research must be conducted to more clearly understand the long-term effects of melatonin on children.
Reputable Sleep Supplements
Melatonin For Kids: What To Know
Melatonin supplements are marketed to parents as a safe, effective, drug-free, non-habit-forming sleep aid for kids. It sounds like a godsend, but don’t give melatonin without careful consideration and the approval and guidance of your child’s doctor.
Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies produce in varying amounts throughout the day and night. It affects our internal clock , and therefore our sleep cycles. Our bodies produce more melatonin after dark, peaking in the middle of the night and dropping just before morning.
The research on melatonin as a sleep aid in children isn’t solid yet. Many of the studies are small, haven’t used standardized terminology or measures , and often contain biases.
Still, many studies show that taking melatonin supplements may help some children fall asleep more quickly and sleep longer. These studies have mostly been done with children who have conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder , which can make sleep difficult.
One study of 125 children and adolescents with ASD, for example, showed the use of prolonged-release melatonin resulted in sleep that was about an hour longer at night. It also decreased the amount of time needed to fall asleep by 40 minutes, without causing an earlier wakeup time.
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What To Consider Before Giving Your Child Melatonin
Before giving a child any sleep aid, it is important to discuss this decision thoroughly with a pediatrician. Childhood sleep problems do not always require treatment with drugs or supplements. Many times, changing bedtime behavior alone is enough. The childs doctor can discuss whether melatonin is appropriate for the situation as well as the supplements risks, benefits, and dosage.
As a dietary supplement, melatonin is not regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the actual concentration of melatonin contained in different products and formulations varies greatly. The true amount can even be different from the amount listed on the products label. Some experts suggest using pharmaceutical-grade products, which may be more reliable.
Furthermore, what may work for an adult as a sleep aid may not be helpful for a child. One reason for this is that children metabolize medicines and supplements differently than adults.
Many different melatonin products are available to purchase. If a childs doctor approves the use of melatonin, it may be helpful to ask about specific products, as well as the dosage and duration of treatment.
Reputable Sleep Supplements
The safety and efficacy of supplements is not closely monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . Shoppers should take additional measures to make sure they are purchasing reputable products.
Melatonin For Children A Guide For Parents
Pediatricians frequently recommend melatonin for children with sleep problems, or parents might try it themselves. However, the proper use of melatonin is frequently misunderstood. Here is a guide for parents and pediatricians to decide if a child should try it, and to understand how it should be used.
Note: this is a long post so here is a table of contents, so you can find what you need.
A common thread I find in children coming to Sleep Clinic is that many or all of them have been on melatonin at some point, or are taking it currently. Melatonin is an important tool in the treatment of sleep disorders in children, and because it is naturally derived, there is a widespread perception that it is safe. However, I have become concerned by the frequency of its use, especially in an unsupervised way.
Melatonin sales have doubled in the past ten years, increasing from $90 million in 2007 to $260 million in 2012. Melatonin for children products are being marketed aggressively. I worry that the widespread availability of melatonin has led to some parents using it as a shortcut to good sleep practices. An article in the Wall Street Journal , quoted a fathers review on Amazon:
Short on time? Heres a quick video which should answer most of your questions:
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Zarbees Naturals Childrens Sleep With Melatonin Supplement
Zarbees is a trusted childrens brand that makes cough syrups and vitamins for kids that pediatricians trust. Zarbees is committed to creating products that are safe for your whole family. These chewable tablets contain 1mg of melatonin, and theyre available on Amazons Subscribe & Save!
It Sounds Great Why Should I Worry About Melatonin
There are several areas for concern, specifically known and theoretical side effects, and problems with preparations.
A 2020 study of the PedPRM long acting melatonin formulation followed 80 children for 2 years, and did not show any evidence of effects on weight, height, body mass index, or Tanner staging .This is the best long term study of melatonin safety and is quite reassuring.
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