Updated: Mar 2, 2018
When you are so tired you can't remember what you ate for breakfast yesterday, the idea of a magic pill to improve sleep for your little one is more then enticing!
The reality seems to be that more and more doctors and parents are turning to melatonin as that "magic pill" for sleep issues with their children. It's true, many parents are giving their babies melatonin to help them fall asleep at night, and this concerns me for a few reasons.
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. Once positive sleep habits are encouraged and a learned skill. Melatonin can then be ruled out as a necessity.
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.
First, let's learn a little more about Melatonin:
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted by your brain and is present in all our bodies. According to the National Sleep Foundation, no other hormone is available in the United States without a prescription. Some other countries require a prescription in order to obtain it. Because melatonin is contained naturally in some foods, the U.S. Dietary Supplement H
ealth 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.
Dr. Johnson-Arbor, a Hartford Hospital toxicologist, says, it is (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.
If there is a chance that your kids can go to sleep easily at bedtime and sleep well all night because they have learned the skills to do so, that is a much preferred solution compared to putting your kids at risk to these potential side effects. Why not try the natural way first! I believe they can sleep well and you can show them how!
To bedtimes a little smoother then these ;)
Your Sleep Consultant