Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

adorable little kid sleeping in bed at home

Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

Long before urgent cares and pharmacies existed, there were insects, plants, and herbs. These were used to alleviate the symptoms of common health issues naturally. The hype around natural cures for common ailments seems to have been reinvigorated lately. Parents (and non-parents alike) are striving to live the healthiest lifestyle possible.

Use lavender to cure headaches. Try primrose oil to clear up eczema. UTI? Drink cranberry juice. Put raw honey on your chapped lips. Soothe burns with tea bags.

I should stipulate here that I’m not anti-homeopathy, nor am I anti-pharmaceutical. I feel that health decisions are something that should be carefully considered by each individual with the advice of their doctor or other trusted health provider. If using probiotics have been a game-changer for your gut health, I say go for it! If you need medication to lower your cholesterol, then you should probably take that too.

Read More: How to Keep Your Toddler’s Sleep on Track After Having a New Baby

But I firmly believe that anything going into your body and – every bit as importantly – into your child’s body, should be evaluated for its efficacy and possible side-effects. Therefore, I think it’s important that I address a buzzword of the past few years: melatonin.

Many homeopathic experts have touted melatonin as a safe, natural way of helping people get to sleep. In a lot of ways, this is very true, but there’s actually a whole lot more to understand about it before you start incorporating it into you or your child’s daily regimen. Is melatonin safe for kids?

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that’s secreted from the pineal gland and helps to settle your body and mind down when it’s time to sleep. How exactly it does this is a very complicated process and involves more biology than I will ever be able to understand much less explain. So, in the simplest terms, melatonin is your brain’s way of closing the shades for the night. On the flip side, we have melatonin’s counterpart, cortisol. Cortisol acts by opening those shades back up in the morning, and the two hormones act together to make up a large part of what we refer to as our “body clock.”

One thing that is important to understand is that our bodies are already producing melatonin naturally. Taking melatonin is not like taking a traditional sleep aid that will make you conk out (like Ambien). Instead, as melatonin levels rise in the evening, it allows our bodies to relax and be primed for sleep.

Read More: 10 Essential Oils for Naptime and Bedtime

Why are people supplementing with melatonin?

But how does our body know to produce it at 6:00 p.m. and not 6:00 a.m.? This is quite a natural process. When it starts to get dark, the body begins to recognize the onset of night and gets the melatonin pumps up and running. You can imagine that this process worked like a charm during the pre-industrial days before we invented the lightbulb. And television. Oh, and the laptop. And the smartphone.

Nowadays, our eyes are flooded with so much artificial light that it can be difficult for our brains to determine when night is approaching. If melatonin does not have the opportunity to rise, it messes up our body clock (which is a contributing factor to insomnia). So, my first piece of advice for anyone struggling with sleep (especially you adults) is to turn off those screens a couple of hours before bedtime, turn down the lights in your house, and come up with a consistent and relaxing bedtime routine. This will let your body know that it’s time for sleep, and a lot of the leg-work towards drifting off into dreamland will be done for you! (Please note: It is not always this simple. For those with physical or psychological conditions that impact sleep, please consult with your physician for a plan of action.)

In some cases – jet-lag and shift work being the most prominent two – a melatonin supplement can help to reset the body clock if it’s been thrown out of whack. However, in general (and especially in children), melatonin is not a solution to sleep issues.

Is Melatonin Safe for Kids?

When it comes to kids, all of this information about body clocks and hormone production still applies. That being said, newborns are a bit of an exception as they don’t start producing melatonin or cortisol until after eight weeks of age. But beyond the first couple of months, infants will begin to establish a 24-hour light-dark sleep cycle, which they will follow throughout their life. Is melatonin safe for kids? Probably.

Now the big question: Will giving my child melatonin help them sleep through the night?

And the answer is: No, probably not.

While it might help them get to sleep at night, it most certainly will not help them stay asleep. And this isn’t just my opinion; this is the consensus of sleep specialists, researchers, and doctors worldwide. The National Sleep Foundation has found that “…when scientists conduct tests to compare melatonin as a ‘sleeping pill’ to a placebo (sugar pill), most studies show no benefit of melatonin.” Additionally, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body, so taking more of it can have serious side effects such as abdominal pain, excessive sweating, vision problems, nausea, daytime laziness, and drowsiness.

Again, I am in no way anti-homeopathic or naturopathic medicine. There are very real uses for melatonin (as mentioned above), and it has proven to be very helpful in some instances. Whether this is a placebo effect for some, no big deal! They’re getting the sleep they need, and that’s vitally important in its own right. But when it comes to young children, I feel that it’s essential for us as parents to teach them the skills they need to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own.

Read More: How to Make Sure Your Child is Getting Enough Sleep

How Can I Help My Child Sleep Better?

Here’s the good news: kids and sleep go together like peanut butter and jelly. Children need a LOT of sleep. And, for a short period in their lives, everything in their bodies is primed to help ensure they get it. All they need from us is a little guidance and a bit of space so they can develop the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own.

Consistently giving children any type of sleep aid to get them snoozing is not the answer. Whether that is melatonin or Benadryl, it won’t work forever. Just like learning any other skill, it takes practice and time to teach your little one how to sleep. No supplement can teach you how to play an instrument, do long division, or sharpen your golf game (wouldn’t that be nice). Sleep is the same. It’s a skill that needs to be developed. And once it is, it comes easily and naturally most of the time.

So, yes, melatonin is safe for kids. But before you reach for the pills, try establishing a predictable and consistent bedtime routine. Shut down the TVs and tablets a couple of hours before bed. Encourage your child to fall asleep without feeding, rocking, or other forms of outside help. I promise you, the results will be better than anything you’ll get from a pill, and they’ll last a lifetime!

About the Author /

Jamie is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and owner of Oh Baby Consulting where she offers personalized, gentle sleep solutions to exhausted families nationwide. With a background in child development and infant mental health, she keeps up to date on the latest evolutions in the field which allows her to blend technical knowledge with empathy and compassion to tailor the support she provides.

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Remember what it was like when you were home with Remember what it was like when you were home with a newborn? Remember how you felt? Tired. Sore. Swollen. Engorged. So happy to finally meet your baby but also completely exhausted. You wished you had more help. You wished you could take a break. You wished you could only focus on staring at your baby and snuggling them and not have to worry about preparing food, chores, etc.⁠
Even though things may be more difficult now to offer help, still try to be the friend you wished you had when your babies were newborns to your friends and loved ones. ❤️ Things you can do:⁠
- Drop off a meal at their door⁠
- Drop off some of your favorite postpartum recovery items or breastfeeding products you loved⁠
- Go grocery shopping for them and leave it at the door⁠
- Send them a meal delivery service gift card⁠
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This is so accurate. And happens pretty much anywh This is so accurate. And happens pretty much anywhere we go if we leave the house. 🤦‍♀️😂⁠
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So you’re about to have a baby girl and you’re looking for a cool name for her, right? You want a name that captures the essence of who she is and the girl and woman that you envision her becoming. A name that sets her apart and celebrates her unique gifts. A name you can imagine being written on her cubby at preschool, her college entrance essay, her first novel.⁠
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"It doesn't matter if you have a newborn, a toddle "It doesn't matter if you have a newborn, a toddler, or a teenager. These are the things our children need to feel from those around them. The same things that you and I even as adults want to feel from those around us. We want to feel seen. We want to be soothed when we are hurt. We want to feel safe when we are with people. We want to feel secure in our relationships with others. We don't outgrow the need to feel those things. In a crazy world, let your children feel those things. Let them know 'Hey, I see you. I see you're sad or mad. I am here with a hug when you're ready and if you need it. You are safe to feel how you feel and be who you are. You don't have to worry about my love for you. Be secure in that. Bad times or good times, I am here for you and I love you.' Because how good does it feel when we feel that way from those around us?"⁠
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You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ You're My Baby Forever, But My Newborn for Now⁠ 💕⁠
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When I had my first baby, everyone told me to enjoy the newborn stage because it goes fast, and I would miss it. But I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I didn’t believe them. 😴 While I was living through it, it felt like it took forever!⁠
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If you are there now or about to enter this stage, it’s a yummy, delicious, snuggly stage. But for me, it has always been one of the harder ones, every time I go through it. So I see and feel you, mama! It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Hold tight, though, because it doesn’t last forever.⁠
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Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠ by @chroni Daddy Chronicles: Breastfeeding 💙⁠
by @chroniclesofdaddy⁠
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I've been asked so many questions by men about fatherhood. So I figured I'd drop some knowledge on my fellow Dads and soon-to-be-Dads. Here's what it looks like for the first few weeks or months after your child is born. Yup. If mom breastfeeds they pretty much are tucked like this and at times you'll wonder "what is there for me to do?" Here are my top 5 tips for any Dad after your child is born.⁠
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1️⃣ For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night, you get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.⁠
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2️⃣ Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.⁠
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3️⃣ Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeeds the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a different length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad, it's hard to fully understand. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try and rush this process. It's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.⁠
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4️⃣ Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger and bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.⁠
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5️⃣ Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby it's hard, but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. ⁠
If someone needs this info tag them ❤️⁠
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Absolutely love these tips from @chroniclesofdaddy. 🙌
7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body 7 Postpartum Yoga Poses That Strengthen Your Body After Baby 🧘‍♀️⁠
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The postpartum period, or period of recovery that takes place after a mother gives birth, is an important time for mothers to take care of themselves. 🥰 Typically, if you’re less than 6 weeks postpartum you don’t want to put any pressure on your core muscles. Also, your body’s levels of relaxin, the hormone that loosens joints to prepare for childbirth, is elevated for 3-6 months after childbirth, and longer if you are breastfeeding. All this means is: take these postpartum yoga poses slowly and stretch yourself gently. No gymnastics here or pushing beyond what is comfortable.⁠
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Remember, every mama’s body is different, so listen to how you feel and seek advice from a medical professional if you have questions about how and when to begin your personal exercise plan. Note: Try to do the following yoga poses in the order they are listed. {Click 🔗 in bio to see the 7 yoga poses to strengthen your body after baby!⁠}⁠
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Article by: @kristen_vhmiddleton⁠
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