How Much Melatonin Should You Give a 2-Year-Old?
The sleep issue doesn’t magically resolve itself after your children leave babyhood. In fact, for a lot of parents, the sleep thing gets WORSE in toddlerhood. Once your kid can stand and talk, it’s game over. There are certainly plenty of ways we as parents can help fix whatever sleep problems our kids have. A solid bedtime routine, no screens two hours before bedtime, and a sleep-compatible room are all good ideas! But despite our best efforts, some toddlers just need a little help at fall and stay asleep sometimes. Many parents turn to melatonin when desperate times call for desperate measures. But there’s not a lot of research around kids and melatonin, and dosage can be tricky.
First off, when should you use melatonin with your toddler?
This is where parents get a little confused. If your child can fall asleep on their own about 30 minutes after you put them to bed, melatonin may not be necessary! The natural sleep aid can be very helpful, however, if your child has a sleep dysfunction. For instance, if they can’t fall asleep and lie awake for hours, or fall asleep and then wake several times during the night.
It can also be very helpful for kids on the autism spectrum, or those who’ve been diagnosed with ADHD. Kids with these disorders are well-known to have a lot of trouble falling asleep, and studies have shown melatonin to be effective in shortening the time it takes them to fall asleep.
If you’ve decided to use melatonin with your 2-year-old, dosage and timing is key.
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 you’ve 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, it’s 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.
We all need sleep, but sometimes, it can be hard to come by! If your toddler has a hard time falling or staying asleep, talk to your pediatrician about melatonin, to see if it’s right for you and your child.
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