Melatonin For Kids?

Melatonin and Sleep

Oh, sleep.  If you aren’t getting enough of it, I’m sending you a virtual hug.  Whether it’s your own grown up reasons for not getting great sleep, or your children are trying to slowly torture you by being terrible sleepers, I get you.  I’ve been there and done that.  As an adult with zero children, I used to struggle with sleep a lot.  And now as a parent, I’ve definitely spent a ton of time in the trenches, roaming the earth as a sleep-deprived zombie. 

I’ve literally shed many tears over just being plain tired. 

This year, as our “baby” turned 2, I still felt like we were in the newborn stage at times.  We’d had spurts of decent rest, but honestly, she was just a horrible sleeper.  She’d stay up late like a college kid, fight naps like a champ, and wake up often in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.  Routine and essential oils definitely helped at times, but I wanted to get to the root cause so I would’t be fighting this battle forever.  My sanity and I couldn’t fight this battle forever. 

My first born was the exact opposite.  I actually remember googling “how much sleep is too much sleep?” because THAT’s how much he slept as a baby and young toddler.  He’d go to bed early, take a killer nap, and then be ready to do it all again the next day.  So when baby girl came around, I was thrown for a loop.  I finally spoke with her doctor about it at her two year checkup.  His recommendation?  We could try melatonin.  

For my toddler?

I was intrigued.  So like most mothers do these days, I googled it.  I knew it was a natural substance that our bodies already created.  I knew some friends who had used it with success.  But I needed to know more before deciding if it was for our girl (and our sanity).  Here are some of the things I’ve learned, as well as our current solution to our sleep struggles:

What Is Melatonin?

Put simply, it’s the sleep hormone.  Our bodies produce more of it at night, stimulated by darkness and our circadian rhythm.  As morning approaches and the sun rises, we make less of it and we wake up. 

Jet lag, shift work, blue light (tv, computer, phone screens), alcohol, caffeine, and sugar ALL disrupt our natural melatonin production.  

Melatonin supplements are synthetic hormones that can be obtained over the counter at drug stores and natural health food stores.  You can also get a boost of non-synthetic melatonin from certain foods like cherries, walnuts, strawberries, and barley. 


In many cases, it can and does help help children (and adults) fall asleep faster.  There is scientific evidence to support this.  There is not as strong evidence to support that it will help anyone stay asleep longer.  Most sources state that short term melatonin use appears safe.  Risks are minimal and potential side effects are minor.  Large scale or long term studies, however, have not been conducted.  

Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects include morning drowsiness, stomach cramps, irritability, grogginess, confusion, vivid dreams, and nightmares.   Instances of these side effects are low, especially when taken in proper dosage.  

Other Things I Considered

  • Melatonin is a hormone.  Hormones affect hormones.  There are a TON of hormones at work in our body and little is known about the long term use of throwing a synthetic hormone into the mix.  
  • When we feed our bodies melatonin, there is the concern that we will actually make LESS of it. Our body doesn’t see the need to create it because it’s already there.  This could potentially disrupt our ability to fall asleep for the long haul.  Again, there aren’t long term studies to confirm this, but it is a major concern of mine, personally.  
  • While it may be effective at times, other situational or behavioral changes may produce better, long term, benefits.  Melatonin is not for every type of sleep struggle.  
  • In other countries, melatonin is only available by prescription.
  • Dosage can be tricky.  More isn’t always better.  Consult with a doctor and always start with the lowest recommendation.  

My Conclusion

While I do worry about long term use and the potential for her body to slow down its own natural melatonin production, I’m not ruling it out.  I would feel comfortable giving melatonin to my daughter for short term use, should the need continue to arise.  However, before we jumped into the sleep-aid pool, I wanted to see what else we could try.  

Do you want to know what has now worked for us for a few solid months?  Brace yourself, it’s parenting at its finest!

Our daughter now sleeps on a pallet, on the floor.  On the floor.  That’s where she’s happy.  That’s where she lays.  Apparently, she hated her crib.  Even with the side down, the cute little, non-cage like toddler bed – she just hates it.  She loves the floor.  Who knew?! And us? We have slept more soundly for the longest stretch in years.  So I’m going to happily roll with it.  

Should she shift again and go back to the night owl situation, I’ll re-assess.  I firmly believe melatonin is a better option than prescription sleep medications.  I will exhaust other options first and primarily look to our current bedtime behaviors and circumstances.  I will look at our diet and in particular our current sugar intake.  I will look for the root cause before taking melatonin.  But if all else fails, melatonin and I might just become friends.  If it means we all get a good night’s sleep, we might even be besties.  

How about you?  Are you and your family getting enough sleep?  Have you considered melatonin?  I’d love to know your thoughts.  


  1. My 3yo is a pretty terrible sleeper. I considered melatonin, but my RN drug book says it’s not safe for kids. It basically says other hormones could be affected, as you suggested. I’m sure occasional / short term use is fine—as is true with most things.
    If anyone finds a synthetic warm body that sleeps in the bed with your child, let me know! 😂😭

  2. Sleep, I miss you sleep. My daughter is almost eleven months and won’t sleep without someone (mostly me) lying with her, rocking her, carrying her.

  3. My 6 year old son has ADHD, and has always had a difficult time getting his body to relax enough to fall asleep easily. He would be exhausted and keep himself up from just not being able to calm down and relax. We started giving melatonin about 6 months ago and it has done wonders! We did try other things, like mindfulness meditation and soothing bedtime stories before we tried melatonin, and we consulted his pediatrician first. His Dr said we could go up to 3mg but we started we just 0.5mg and it’s all he needs. That little amount does the trick. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but if you need a solution after trying other things, it’s a good one to consider (and talk to your Dr about). It’s good to read an article about this situation because you feel like it is only you when you are going through it. Thanks!

  4. I don’t believe Melatonin is good for your body. I believe in all natural remedies. We diffuse and apply pure essential oils (such as lavender, vetiver and other calming blends)and that’s what works in our home.

  5. By pallet, do you mean mattress or futon cushion on the floor?? I’m so glad y’all found that it was her environmental comfort that needed tweaking—it makes a lot of sense because if you love the space where you’re going to go to sleep in, it’s so much easier and inviting for that important time! Likewise, if you hate where you sleep, I can definitely understand not looking forward/wanting to go there/be there/stay there. Great job, Mama! Loved this article and especially the concerns for the drug!

    • Thank you!! We have tried it all and honestly she most enjoys laying on a stack of a several blankets on the floor. We took the side off her crib and she still didn’t want to be in it. We put the mattress on the floor and she still preferred the floor! So she’s nice and cozy with lots of blankets and pillows and we’re just going with it! She still ends up in our bed at times, but at least we are getting some much needed sleep. 🙂


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