Melatonin for Babies? No Way!
There was a recent article in Today’s Parent about an busy, working mom with two children who claimed she has tried everything to get her children to sleep well. (I posted the article on my Facebook page.) I commented on the post that she should hire a sleep consultant and my comment was deleted. Most likely because I included my website. I did this because I feel I have a responsibility to let sleep deprived parents know there is help out there. I am also 100% confident that I could help her get both of her children sleeping well.
There was another post from a mom that gave her children Melatonin and it worked like a charm. It was very concerning for me as it was not deleted and planted the idea for many other sleep deprived parents that Melatonin was the answer.
For overtired parents who can’t seem to get their kids on a healthy sleep schedule, the promise of a magic pill can be pretty enticing.
But it seems to me that more and more doctors and parents are turning to Melatonin as a Band-Aid for sleep issues with their children. I hear stories all the time about people saying they are giving their babies Melatonin to help them fall asleep at night, and I have serious concerns about this.
Here’s the deal: Melatonin is NOT a long-term solution to poor sleep habits. Healthy sleep habits need to be learned at a young age in order to set kids up for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits.
And while some studies have shown that Melatonin can be helpful with autistic children or children with ADHD, most babies and children do not need Melatonin; they need to be taught good, independent sleep skills.
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by your brain and is present in every person’s body. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “no other hormone is available in the United States without a prescription. Because melatonin is contained naturally in some foods, the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 allows it to be sold as a dietary supplement. These do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or controlled in the same way as drugs.” The same goes for Canada.
Dr. Johnson-Arbor, a Hartford Hospital toxicologist, says, “It’s (melatonin) possibly thought to affect growth, and to affect sexual development and puberty.” Other side-effects can include headaches, drowsiness and stomach ache.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Melatonin should not be used in most children. It is possibly unsafe. Because of its effects on other hormones, Melatonin might interfere with development.”