Your In-Depth Parenting Guide On Using Melatonin For Toddlers
One of the most challenging parts of new parenthood is when we have to try and figure out how to function on little sleep. We think we’ve been tired before, but it’s never a reality until our rest is dependent on our kids, finally falling asleep. For many of us, even when our babies grow to toddlers, they struggle to settle into sleep and stay that way all night. It’s exhausting, so it’s no surprise many parents have turned to melatonin for toddlers who struggle to sleep.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies make naturally. Its role is to help us regulate our sleep and temperature. Melatonin is released in the pineal gland, a small organ that’s in the center of our brain. It’s released when the daylight goes away, and our body stops making it for the day when the sun comes up. It’s a key hormone in regulating circadian rhythm—how our body knows when it’s time for bed and when it’s time to wake up.
Melatonin supplements are synthetic forms of the hormone our body makes. Taking some a half hour to an hour before bed, as part of a healthy best practices sleep routine, can make falling asleep a little easier. And that’s had a huge benefit for parents whose kids really struggle in this area.
Does melatonin work to help toddler sleep?
According to a New York Times article written in May 2020, a survey they looked into “suggests that nearly half of children with difficulty sleeping have taken melatonin.” It’s also been shown in the studies they looked at that in 2020, “March that sales of children’s melatonin supplements in retail stores grew 87 percent over the prior year.” Hence, they’re clearly popular – but do they work?
Melatonin supplements are used often as a sleep aid because it works. Some studies have shown that using melatonin, even in toddlers, helps kids fall asleep quicker. It improves the quality of the sleep and the duration by a bit. It’s not a sleeping medication though, it’s a supplement, and it may work for some toddlers but not others.
There have been some benefits shown particularly for kids who have autism or attention deficit disorder, helping them regulate their sleep
What is a safe dosage of melatonin for toddlers?
Because melatonin is not regulated under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are no written guidelines to follow in terms of what a safe dosage is for melatonin for toddlers. That’s why it’s important to discuss with your child’s doctor before you start a melatonin routine at night. The doctor can help implement the best guidelines for your child’s particular case and answer the recommended highest dose.
It’s generally understood that starting at a low dose is the best recommendation to follow. Healthy Children reports, “Many children will respond to a low dose (0.5 mg or 1 mg) when taken 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime. Most children who do benefit from melatonin―even those with ADHD―don’t need more than 3 to 6 mg of melatonin.”
What are the side effects of melatonin for toddlers?
Since melatonin isn’t a regulated medication, the side effects aren’t as widely available. Still, there are a few that have been tied to use in toddlers. A few studies have looked into the safety of melatonin, but most have been tied to adults vs toddlers. The studies haven’t shown any serious side effects, and the studies didn’t point to any signs of dependence or withdrawal.
There haven’t been any long-term studies that look at melatonin’s safety, so parents must think about using melatonin for kids to speak with their child’s doctor.
Can a toddler overdose on melatonin?
Technically, a toddler can overdose on melatonin, which is why it’s very important to store the bottles where you keep other medication. Given the melatonin for toddlers are often drops or gummies, and they taste good, younger toddlers may mistake them for candy, so storage is important.
Some signs of a potential overdose of melatonin in a toddler, according to Poison Control, include nausea, headache, vomiting, and vomiting. The poison control recommends “an adult stays with the exposed person until fully rested and awake. Gently awaken the individual every 30 minutes while napping. If breathing is abnormal or the person will not awaken, call 911.”
When parents have any questions, it’s advised to call poison control at 1-800-222-1222; for an emergency, call 911.
What are other best-sleep practices for toddlers who use melatonin?
Suppose we’re fighting to get our toddler to fall asleep. In that case, we can’t rely on melatonin to be the magic trick because even if your child’s doctor recommends its use, it’s still only best effective when used in conjunction with other best-sleep practices.
Set a scheduled bedtime. By keeping the same scheduled day after day, even on weekends and holidays, for what time our kid goes to bed and wakes up, we set that circadian rhythm. Keeping on this schedule trains their bodies to release their natural melatonin for a better night’s rest.
Limit screen time before bed. One of the worst offenders for keeping our body from releasing its natural melatonin, especially for toddlers, is by using screens before bed. This includes using smartphones, tablets, and television too close to bedtime. The blue lights have been studied, and it is proven that they disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Reduce stress and activity too close to the bed. Stress keeps all of us awake, and the same is true if we’ve ever exercised before going to bed. For toddlers, the same is true. We can slow down their activity (like having them take a bath or read a book) can calm any nerves and help them drift off into an easier sleep.
Create and stick to a nightly routine. Having a routine can be one of the best things for toddlers who struggle to sleep. Set up a routine and stick to it as closely as possible each night before bed. This includes the timeline and order in which things are done: e.g., finish dinner, go for a walk, take a bath, get into cuddly pajamas, brush their teeth, and then get into bed and read a book. Choose whatever works best for you at home, and the studies have proven this to be one of the best methods for better sleep.
What to look for in melatonin products for toddlers?
Since melatonin isn’t regulated by the FDA, it’s important to know what to look for to choose the best brand and method of synthetic melatonin for your toddler. Some ask their pediatrician what brand they recommend, and others look for a few key factors when choosing one for their kids.
There are several different melatonin methods for kids, and finding one that’s best for your child is a good thing. They come in pills, capsules, dissolve tablets, gummies, chewable, and droplets. Find one that’s free of any fillers, is safe for any allergens, and has a high rating and good brand name behind it are some places to start.
Review of melatonin products for toddlers
Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep with Melatonin Supplement
Zarbie’s Natural Childrens’ Sleep with Melatonin is a brand that’s been around for a long while, and according to Amazon, is very trusted by parents. It comes with 50 gummies per jar and the natural berry flavor means that the kids aren’t going to give us a hard time when we ask them to take it before bed. This one is recommended for kids aged three and up and comes with a 4.5 rating on Amazon out of 20,932 ratings in total.
One person who reviewed the product wrote, “This product is a freaking miracle. My previously-precocious, out-of-control, no holds-bar-whirlwind-of-a-three year-old has been peacefully falling asleep without nary a whimper for the last two nights. Before this, it was lots of screaming, crying, getting out of bed, and generally wreaking havoc every night – usually after 9pm.”
SleepBerry Liquid Melatonin for Kids
SleepBerry is a liquid melatonin for kids that promotes better night’s sleep with its formation that includes melatonin, Vitamin D, Elderberry, and Theanine, an herb that has a calming effect to help toddlers drift to sleep. One full dropper contains 3 milligrams of melatonin and a daily does of Vitamin D both which promote better sleep. There’s approximately 30 days of melatonin in one both and it comes with a rating average of 4.5 stars on Amazon out of 2,534 ratings in total.
One person who left a review on the product wrote, “I love this product! It settles my 26m old in 15 minutes she is ready to cuddle and fall asleep! Before I found this product she would be up for hours even while laying in the dark with her it’s like she had no off switch. This sleep berry is magic, so glad our bedtime is now 8pm & not midnight!”
Luna Kids Melatonin Supplement
Luna for kids comes in a chewable tablet, and with 60 per bottle, there’s enough to last a month or two for each child. Each chewable tablet comes in a tropical berry flavored, are non GMO, vegan, and have been third-party tested for safety. On Amazon, the Luna Kids sleep aid has an average of 4.6 stars out of 3,259 ratings and comes with other gentle sleep and relaxation ingredients like Lemon Balm and chamomile.
One person who left a review of this melatonin for toddlers wrote, “This product is like a gift from God Hand dipped in cozy dreams by cherubs . Seriously , it works . I was losing my mind every night battling my 4 and 8 year old sons, who could easily stay up till 2am wide eyed and ready to rumble . A 3 hour bedtime ritual had me drinking way to much wine to counter the insanity of their refusal to sleep … until Luna descended down upon me from the heavens above. Now , I give it to them and within 30 minutes they are peacefully sleeping and wake up happy and rested.”
ZzzQuil Pure Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Sleep Aid Gummies
Amazon, $ 13.47
The ZZZQuil melatonin for kids sleep aids come in another gummy formulation which means kids are not going to argue over taking it. This comes from the trusted Vick’s brand and each gummy contains 0.5 milligrams of melatonin, so it allows for smaller dosing for the younger toddlers. On Amazon, it has an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 4,944 ratings total.
One person who left a review wrote, ” These truly work for my six year old son who has high functioning autism. When we started giving him these gummies we immediately noticed a difference during our bed routine.”
Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve
For parents who don’t want a gummy candy version of melatonin, these from Natrol are tablets for kids that quickly dissolves, so there’s no chewing needed, and they’re quick and simple for the kids to take. Each bottle comes with 90 tablets. Each has 1 milligram of melatonin in them, so everyone in the family can take them. The dosage can be adjusted for everyone. On Amazon, the Natrol for kids comes with an average of 4.7 stars out of 4,623 total ratings.
One person who reviewed the Natrol Melatonin for toddlers wrote, ” Bought these for my hyper kiddos to get them to calm down before bed. They love to get out of bed and come downstairs every 2 minutes for water, a snack, to go pee, because they have an itch, because there is a bump that all of a sudden popped up, etc…so I tried these and it works for my 6 year old. I give him 1 and he goes to bed and stays in bed. I give about 30 mins before bedtime.”
Chapter One Melatonin Gummies
Amazon, $ 11.19
Chapter One Melatonin Gummies are free of all the common allergies for kids so we know they’re not as likely to react to these ones. Each serving contains 2.5 milligrams of melatonin so it’s best for the older toddlers or ones who require a larger dose. It has an average star rating of 4.7 on Amazon out of 2,279 total ratings.
One person who left a review of the Chapter One Gummies wrote, ” No more agonizing nights with bedtime routine lasting for hours. The first night she took the gummy she was out like a light and down without a fight within 30 minutes. She enjoys the flavor.”
Good Day Chocolate Melatonin Supplement
For kids who love chocolate over gummies, this free-trade chocolate contains 1 milligram of melatonin per serving to give kids a gentle drift-off to sleep. The adult version of this is one of the best-selling products on Amazon, and the kids one is very popular as well. With an average of 4.3 stars out of 562 ratings this sleep one goes well with the company’s multi-vitamin and probiotic as well.
One person who left a review on Amazon wrote, ” I cannot say enough about how much we love these tablets. We homeschool our son who is on the spectrum, and these have greatly impacted our school days in a positive way.”
Vitafusion Kids Melatonin
Amazon, $ 11.63
This gummy for kids is a tropical peach flavor for kids who like something sourer-sweet. Each serving contains 1.5 milligrams of melatonin and contains NO high-fructose corn syrup, NO synthetic (FD&C) dyes, NO artificial flavors, NO gluten, dairy, or sugar. With an average star rating on Amazon of 4.6 out of 1,251 ratings total, it’s a popular choice on the store for parents looking for a supplement with an easy to handle taste.
One person who left a review of the Vitafusion Kids Melatonin Gummies wrote, ” This product helps my 6 year old so much! Her schedule got thrown off during quarantine and she was unable to fall asleep. These helped tremendously. Whether it’s from the actual ingredients or because she knows they’re her “sleep gummies”, I couldn’t say. But they taste amazing.”
Here’s the bottom line on melatonin for toddlers.
All of our lives are happier when we get enough sleep, and if you have a child who really struggles in this area, melatonin may help. Be sure to start with a sleep routine with the best practices in mind, keep the schedule the same every night, and reduce screen time a few hours before bed. If this alone isn’t helping your child or is not helping enough, book an appointment to discuss melatonin with your child’s pediatrician.
If you get the OK to try melatonin for your toddler, start with a low dose, keep an eye on any side effects, and adjust if needed, with your doctor’s permission. Sleep is going to happen one day, we promise.
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