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Is It Safe To Give Children Melatonin

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Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Child Melatonin

Is it safe to give melatonin to my child?
  • Why You Shouldn’t Give Your Child Melatonin Center
  • 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 kid’s 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

    Can You Give A 10 Year Old Melatonin

    There havent been many studies of melatonin use in children. However, the evidence we do have suggests that melatonin should be safe for kids. Scientists looked at a small group of kids who took melatonin regularly for 3.7 years. The researchers said none of the children had negative side effects from the supplement.

    How Often Are Children Using Melatonin

    Its hard to know for sure. An article the New York Times, Parents Are Relying on Melatonin to Help Their Kids Sleep. Should They?, noted that melatonin sales overall had increased by 87% in the year prior to March 2020. The Times conducted a survey of 933 parents with children under age 18. One third had a history of sleep difficulties in the past year. Over half the parents reported giving melatonin to their children at one time.

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    Can Melatonin Help Kids Fall Asleep

    If your child is struggling to fall asleep at night or get sufficient sleep, melatonin supplements are a possible short-term strategy for helping them achieve quality sleep. Research on the use of melatonin in children is limited. However, studies of select groups of children provide promising evidence of melatonins effectiveness in initiating sleep.

    Side Effects Of Melatonin

    Is It Safe To Give Children Melatonin to Sleep? Yes, With ...

    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.

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    How Do You Know If Melatonin Might Be Helpful

    Children on melatonin should meet some criteria for insomnia, and in particular for difficulty falling asleep. But they also should have other things ruled out, experts said.

    If you are worried about your kids sleep, talk to your pediatrician, said Craig Canapari, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics at Yale University, director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Melatonin certainly may be on the table for a finite period of time, but you have to look and see is there an underlying problem that is causing your childs insomnia.

    For example, melatonin is not appropriate for restless leg syndrome. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Institutes of Health say that children should not take melatonin long-term, but neither organization defines what long-term means. Some children naturally fall asleep later than parents might like, but that doesnt mean they need melatonin.

    Why Will My 7 Year Old Not Sleep

    Causes of insomnia in kids For many children, their difficulties falling or staying asleep stem from their daytime habits or how they spend their time right before bed. Eating too much sugary food during the day, for example, or watching TV right before bed could be enough to disrupt your childs sleep.

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    Are Melatonin Gummies For Kids Safe A Pediatrician Weighs In

    It’s 10 p.m. and your kid is standing at the top of the stairs in a Darth Vader costume, singing Let It Go at the top of his lungs. Youll do almost anything to get him to go the eff to sleep. Could melatonin supplements do the trick? The Mayo Clinic says theyre totally fine for adults, but what about for your little Darth? You can find them at the drugstore, but are melatonin gummies for kids actually safe? We asked surgeon Amir Marashi, M.D. and pediatrician Rosemary Prince, M.D., F.A.A.P. of ProHEALTH Pediatric Urgent Care of Yorkville, to weigh in.

    Will My Child Become Dependent

    Is melatonin safe to help children sleep?

    Unlike other sleep medications, melatonin hasnt been shown to cause withdrawal or other symptoms of dependency.

    Any time we take a form of what our body already produces, our body will decrease the production, Dr. Kuhn said. When you abruptly stop, your body needs time to reproduce levels, but that doesnt seem to be the case with melatonin. One doesnt have to taper off.

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    So Are Melatonin Gummies Safe

    Technically, melatonin gummies are considered safe for kids, but that doesnt mean all doctors are on board with them. Melatonin is a hormone, and it might interact with other hormones in small, developing bodies. The truth is that there havent been many studies on melatonin use in children, so many of the questionslike the long-term effectsremain unanswered.

    Melatonin supplements also arent regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., Dr. Prince says. Melatonin might possibly interact with any other medication your child is on, and there are many variabilities in the ingredients and formulations of these over-the-counter products, so you dont always know how much of what you might be taking. Melatonin can also cause side effects like headache, dizziness, increased urination at night and nausea.

    Melatonin Could Help Kids With Adhd And Autism

    Kids with attention disorders and autism commonly develop sleep problems that can be helped with melatonin. Additionally, medication used to treat ADHD can lead to difficulty falling asleep. That was the case for Jackie Botman,* whose son has ADHD. The eight-year-olds medication was keeping him up until 9:30 or laterhe was wired and couldnt settle down. He was resistant to calming down and having quiet time. He became chronically tired, says Botman, who lives in Toronto. Now her son takes a 5 mg dose of melatonin when hes brushing his teeth, then gets into bed and falls asleep in a reasonable amount of time.

    Although Cummings agrees that melatonin can help kids with ADHD or autism, he says the downside is that theres a high relapse rate: Once you take your kid off melatonin, they are almost guaranteed to go back to having difficulty sleeping. It sets up a situation where those kids, to function well in life and in school, may need to use the melatonin on a longer-term basis, says Cummings.

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    Melatonin And Children With Adhd

    As many as 70% of children with ADHD experience sleep problems. They frequently experience excessive daytime sleepiness caused by initial insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep at night.

    Studies show that children with ADHD who take melatonin experience improved sleep. One study found a reduction in insomnia, leading to children falling asleep an average of 16 minutes earlier.

    How Much Melatonin Can A Child Take

    Is Melatonin Safe to Give My Growing Child I Banner Health

    When using melatonin for kids, its best to start small, and if need be, work up to a higher dose. I usually advise people to start at low doses of 0.5 milligrams or 1 milligrams and give it about 90 minutes before bedtime, DeBlasio says. For some children, these low doses may be all that is needed. Other kids will require higher doses. However, most children dont need more than 3 to 6 milligrams. He adds, It is important to involve your pediatrician in decisions about melatonin dosing.

    Levinson says that the general recommended dosage utilized in studies of children is between 0.5-6 milligrams nightly. Again, though, melatonin isnt regulated by the FDA, which can make dosage tricky. Research has shown that the stated amount of melatonin in a supplement can be off by over 400%, and other compounds, such as serotonin, can be included, Levinson says. The dosage variability can even be very high when the same brand is purchased on separate occasions. Families should always check with their childs pediatrician before giving melatonin to their child.

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    What To Know About Dietary Supplements And Safety

    The FDA classifies melatonin as a dietary supplement, meaning that its regulated less strictly than a regular drug. For dietary supplements, label claims and product safety dont have to meet FDA approval before theyre marketed.

    A 2017 study of 31 different melatonin supplements found that the actual melatonin content of 71 percent of the products didnt match the claim on the label. Additionally, 26 percent of products contained serotonin, which can be potentially harmful even in small doses.

    When shopping for melatonin supplements, look for products that are USP verified. United States Pharmacopeia is an independent organization that works to ensure proper quality and dosing of dietary supplements.

    If you experience side effects from melatonin, stop taking it and speak with your doctor. They may recommend using a lower dose or trying out an alternative medication or sleep aid.

    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.

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    Is Melatonin Safe For Kids

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved melatonin for use in children and adolescents with insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, some doctors do recommend melatonin for children sleeping poorly. Use of melatonin in children is called off label, or using a drug for a purpose or group of people other than what is officially recommended.

    When Should Melatoninnot Be Used

    AUTISM: SLEEP – Is #melatonin safe to give your child?

    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 physicalcause
    • if your child is younger than 3

    Melatonin should never substitute for healthy sleeppractices: a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtimeroutine, no caffeine, and no electronics or screens before bedtime.

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    When To Talk To Your Doctor About Melatonin

    Sleep is essential for children for a number of reasons. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones and repairs damaged tissue and muscle. Appropriate sleep in children is linked to positive school performance.

    If your child is struggling to fall asleep or get sufficient sleep, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help identify the cause of sleeplessness. Common reasons for a lack of sleep in children include insomnia and delayed sleep-phase syndrome.

    Are Melatonin Gummies Ever Ok To Give To A Child

    Under specific circumstanceslets say youve tried every lifestyle change in the book, from eliminating screens an hour before bed to utilizing a light boxyour childs pediatrician might recommend melatonin. If she does, shell give you a recommended dosage, but Dr. Prince advises starting with the lowest dosage available at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

    Dr. Marashi adds that hes reluctant to advise a parent to give their child melatonin because of the very thing its designed to do: make you sleepy. He says that as an adult, you can fully wrap your mind around the effects of the supplement and understand that it will make you tired and the feeling may linger the following morning and into the day. It might also make you irritable because youre extra tired, and these symptoms in combination could make you feel depressed. Kids, however, dont always have the capacity for these feelings.

    An adult taking the gummies would have developed an ability to be self-aware and recognize a shift in mood or behavior, Dr. Marashi says. Children might not recognize that they are experiencing a depressive episode, or even be able to know what depression is, which could perpetuate the problem.

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    Children With Adhd And/or Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Children with ADHD and/or autism spectrum disorder are known to have challenges falling asleep. Studies with melatonin have been done in these populations of children. Dr. Chen explains,

    More trials of melatonin for sleep difficulties have been done in children with ADHD or ASD than studies for typically developing children. Evidence from these trials suggests that melatonin is safe and does shorten the length of time it takes to fall asleep. However, the effects are not generally overwhelming and not every child who takes melatonin shows sleep improvement. The studies mostly evaluate short-term use only.

    Most worries about long-term use and safety are speculative but without clarity from research its always best to get kids off melatonin when you can.

    What Are Melatonins Side Effects On Kids

    QOD: Is it safe to give melatonin to children?

    Potential, though mild, side effects of melatonin use in children include agitation, headache, dizziness and drowsiness. While it is not known for sure and more research on the long term use of melatonin in children is needed, its important to remember that melatonin is a hormone, and, as such, there is a possibility that it may affect hormonal development, including puberty and menstrual cycles.2

    The Bottom Line

    If your child occasionally has trouble falling asleep, instilling better sleep habits and routines might be in order. But if your child experiences significant difficulty falling asleep, melatonin might benefit, especially when its used in combination with behavioral interventions and healthy sleep practices.5

    Most importantly, talk with your childs pediatrician before giving them melatonin to make sure its right for them, to understand the proper dosage, and to rule out any underlying health issues.

    Continue to check back on the Nature Madeblog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

    This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information.


    1 Mayo Clinic. Melatonin. March 30, 2018. Accessed on: September 23, 2020.

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    What Is The Proper Melatonin Dosage For Kids

    If youre considering giving your child a sleep aid, you might be asking yourself, How much melatonin can a child take? You might also be confused about the right melatonin dosage for children. The best plan is to talk with your childs pediatrician about using melatonin as a sleep aid for kids. If youve gotten the green light, then talk with the pediatrician about the proper melatonin dose.

    In fact, giving kids melatonin can be a challenge, as dosing and timing really depend on your childs age and/or weight. For example, Boston Childrens Hospital recommends that, generally speaking, melatonin shouldnt be given to healthy, typically developing children under age three, since sleep issues at this age are almost always behavioral in nature.5

    A 2014 study recommends melatonin doses of one milligram for kids and teens. According to the study, children less than 88 pounds should take a maximum dosage of three milligrams, and children weighing more than 88 pounds should take a maximum dosage of five milligrams.6 The study also said that melatonin reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases total sleep time, but it doesnt reduce night awakenings.

    When Should Melatonin Be Taken

    The best time to take melatonin is 90 to 120 minutes before you plan on going to bed. This allows the body to metabolize the melatonin and eventually set off the OK-were-now-going-to-sleep signals in your brain. Melatonin for kids or adults shouldnt be administered as a direct sleep aid right at bedtime, which is one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding melatonin use.

    If somebody with sleep difficulties is reporting that theyre sleeping better when taking melatonin right before bed, thats probably not whats getting them to sleep, since a two-hour window is generally needed for melatonin to work effectively. What may be happening is a type of placebo effect, where the thought of a sleep aid alone can feel really good and have a reinforcing effect. It can make the person feel calm, which may help them fall asleep.

    The information in this article is based on Dr. Roberto Olivardias Time for Bed! Sleep Solutions for the ADHD Brain webinar, which was broadcast live on September 25, 2019. Dr. Olivardia is a member of ADDitudes ADHD Medical Review Panel.

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