Pediatrician Amir Marashi, MD, FAAP, of ProHEALTH Pediatric Urgent Care of Yorkville, discusses wether melatonin supplements are safe for children.
The truth is that there haven’t been many studies on melatonin use in children so many of the questions—like the long-term effects—remain unanswered. “Melatonin supplements also aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.,” Dr. Prince says. “Melatonin might possibly interact with any other medication your child is on and there are many variabilities in the ingredients and formulations of these over-the-counter products, so you don’t always know how much of what you might be taking. Melatonin can also cause side effects like headache, dizziness, increased urination at night and nausea.”
Under specific circumstances—let’s say you’ve tried every lifestyle change in the book, from eliminating screens an hour before bed to utilizing a light box—your child’s pediatrician might recommend melatonin. If she does, she’ll give you a recommended dosage, but Dr. Prince advises starting with the lowest dosage available (0.5 milligrams) at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
It’s important to make sure that your children have everything they might need in order to fall asleep before resorting to supplements and medication. Dr. Prince says to ask yourself the following questions: Does your child have a solid bedtime routine? Is their room a comfortable temperature and free of noise? Are they away from screens for an hour before they hop into bed? Do they have too much sugar or caffeine during the day? Is there enough exercise in their lives? Do they wind down at the end of the day and talk with you about any worries or concerns they might be feeling? A few small adjustments can go a long way.