Do you give your little ones melatonin, either periodically or regularly to help them fall asleep? Did your pediatrician recommend giving your little one a small dose to help with sleep challenges? Here’s the truth- melatonin in children hasn’t been studied extensively, so we have no idea if long-term use of melatonin is safe.
In this episode, I explain my apprehension about the regular use of melatonin in children to help them fall asleep, whether long-term use of melatonin is safe, as well as what can be done instead to help them fall asleep more easily. Enjoy!
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Hey there, you’re listening to the My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.
Okay. Welcome back everyone. All right. Before we dive in, I wanna quickly read a wonderful review that I received from a client named Kimberly. And she says after much reading on sleep training, a baby, having the guidance of a good sleep coach makes it much easier. And I was able to take this on with way more confidence with Eva’s help our baby now sleeps just about through the night with only one feeding resulting in a huge improvement in both mine and baby’s mood. Thank you Eva. We are so grateful. Thank you so much, Kimberly, for posting this. So, you know, when you have a four month old, like Kimberly does that four month old is capable of going down to typically just one, wake up one feed, which can be an absolute game changer. If you are four month old is waking you up 3, 4, 5, 6 times a night.
So if that’s what you are dealing with and you are looking to get some help, some solutions to get your little one sleeping through the night, like a champ, either head to my free master class and watch that class right now, or you can even just reach out to me and we can chat further about your little one sleep challenges and how I might be able to help. All right. So today I wanna address a very, actually a pretty common question that I get, and it has to do with giving your kids melatonin to help them fall asleep more quickly. Should I be giving my little one melatonin? Is melatonin use safe in children? And I wanna tell you what my take on this is. Um, and I wanna just obviously emphasize that this, this take that I’m giving you my opinion specifically applies to healthy children, right? Because obviously if you’re dealing with a child that has a medical concern, a sleep disorder, you know, something that is diagnosed and providing the child with melatonin is part of their treatment plan.
Then obviously what I’m advising here is not applicable. I’m talking about an otherwise healthy neurotypical child who simply struggles to fall asleep at bedtime. My opinion on the matter is that melatonin should not be given as a default to help that child fall asleep. Meaning what we should be doing is exploring all the other options first, before resorting to something me like melatonin as a very last resort, because the reality is that firstly, we don’t know if using melatonin is safe for children long-term. And what seems to be almost 99% of the time when a healthy child is relying on melatonin on synthetic melatonin to fall asleep, it’s being used as a bandaid solution to cover up the fact that the child’s sleep hygiene and sleep habits are what’s getting in the way of that child learning how to fall asleep properly. And so rather than relying on a bandaid solution, which happens to be a synthetic hormone where we don’t know if this use of melatonin is safe, it’s much better for everyone’s sake for us to be exploring other ways to teach your child how to fall asleep nicely.
Right? So let’s talk about what that could look like. The first thing that I would want you to ask yourself is could my child be going to bed too late? Is it possible that my child is overtired by the time she is tucked in bed for the nights, and that perhaps I’m either using melatonin or considering using melatonin as a bandaid solution for that problem. Cause you see if your little one is going to bed too late and they’re becoming overtired. It means that their body is naturally gonna be producing higher levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can make you that makes it much, much harder to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep. So the solution here isn’t to be giving melatonin to, you know, cover up the over tiredness. The solution here is to put your kid to bed earlier so that they can learn how to wind down properly without the help of extra melatonin.
That by the way, their body’s probably already producing anyways so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own without all these extra aids. The other thing about over tiredness is that it can also cause your little one to be waking up at night that melatonin can’t help with, right? Melatonin can only be helping with initially putting your little one to bed. It’s not gonna necessarily be helping with, with any sort of night wakings that you might be dealing with. If your little one is going to bed too late and that’s causing them to wake up at night, then the solution isn’t melatonin, the solution is an earlier bedtime. The second thing that I want you to be asking yourself is does my child have a proper bedtime routine? You see what I have seen, you know, on the ground in terms of when melatonin is being used is in the context of you have a three year old, a four year old, a five year old who doesn’t really have much of a bedtime routine.
Maybe sometimes they have a bath after dinner. Sometimes they don’t, which in and of itself is fine, but then there isn’t anything consistent that happens day in and day out to help the child wind down. This is the foundation of a rock solid night. Having that it’s having that consistent, relaxing, enjoyable, bedtime routine, where your little one knows what’s going to happen next. And that can cue your little one that sleep time is coming without those cues, without that opportunity to wind down, then your little one is going to struggle. And so, yes, I can appreciate where melatonin can come in again as a bandaid solution, but instead of offering your child, um, something like melatonin where we don’t know it’s safe, which, you know, might be able to do the trick in the short term, let’s address the sleep hygiene here. Let’s address the bigger picture and introduce a doesn’t even need to be long necessarily, but like a consistent, let’s even say 10 to 20 minute long routine that can give your little one ample opportunity to fall asleep.
A 10 minute long routine come to think of. It might be, you know, better for like a younger infant, but for a toddler or a preschooler, something that’s 20 to 30 minutes at the absolute most is all that you need. You know, let’s say a bath every other night, pajamas brush teeth, you know, read books, sing a quick goodnight story into the crib or into the bed. And that is a very, very powerful tool that is going to help your little one wind down potentially without needing that melatonin as help. The last bit I’ll mention that could help your little one fall asleep more easily at bedtime without melatonin is when the weather is nice. Take them outside after dinner, getting them, getting them exposed to some natural light in that late afternoon, early evening hour can really help with their biological clock. With their circadian rhythm can also help them shake their sillies out, you know, release some of that pent up energy that they might have making it a lot easier for them to then go inside, begin their wind down routine and be able to put themselves to sleep more easily.
And just an extra little tip or trick in there that I just wanna very quickly throw in. If your little one is still a little bit anxious or a little bit unsettled around bedtime and still struggles to go to sleep. Even if you’ve got all these puzzle pieces properly down, pat, you can try throwing some Epson salt into their bath. Um, because in, within Epson salt, there’s magnesium and magnesium is well known for helping muscles relax. So that’s just a little trick that, uh, that you can use to help your little one, relax. If that’s something that they struggle with around bedtime. Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and place for using melatonin on a very short term basis to let’s say help your little one with jet lag. If you were traveling and there was a six hour time change, and you wanna expedite the process of getting them back on track as quickly as possible. Magnesium is a much better alternative than melatonin since we know it’s safe.
I can’t imagine that with the guidance of your pediatrician, that would be problematic. It’s more like we really want to avoid introducing a synthetic hormone hormone where we don’t know if the long-term use of this melatonin is safe, and it’s for a problem that can almost certainly be resolved in healthy children with better sleep habits overall with an earlier bedtime, with, you know, no over tiredness with a proper bedtime routine in place and enough stimulation throughout the day. So I hope that this was helpful. And if you are looking to get your little one falling asleep nicely at bedtime and sleeping through the night, like a champ, and you don’t know where to start, check out my free master class, how to get your little one consistently sleeping through the night so that you can feel like a functioning, human, and get started on getting your little one sleeping like a champ today. That’s about everyone. Have a great day!
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @mysleepingbaby, or send me an email at email@example.com until next time have a wonderful restful nights.