At some point in time, every parent faces a child that has sleep issues. Maybe your baby who has always slept peacefully becomes a toddler with their own agenda and starts to fight bedtime with every ounce of will that they can muster. Or maybe your child suddenly develops a fear of everything that moves and putting them to sleep in a dark room at night has become a dreaded activity. Depending on how long you’ve been dealing with this sleep issue, at some point in time, you may have considered giving melatonin to your child but never went through with it because you didn’t know anything about it.
Melatonin is a hormone made by the body that helps to control your sleep cycle. Levels of melatonin in your body start to rise towards the end of the day to help let your body know that its getting closer to the time when you should go to sleep. Levels of melatonin drop in the morning, causing your to stir and wake up. When melatonin is given to a child in supplement form, it’s meant to give the body a boost in melatonin and help them to feel sleepy so that they can fall asleep peacefully.
If you’ve considered giving your child melatonin, it’s probably because you’ve reached your wits end with fighting them at bedtime or maybe its because you’re fearful that they’re not getting enough sleep. Before you take the plunge and try it, it’s important to know some things.
Melatonin should be used as a last possible resort - It’s important that you’ve tried every other trick in the book, calmer bedtime routine, earlier bedtime, later bedtime before deciding on melatonin. It’s also important that you give your child’s new sleep issues time to work themselves out. When kids go through developmental changes or stages, they may have issues sleeping and giving them enough time to work through these changes may mean that the sleep issues resolve themselves and you don’t need melatonin at all.
Have a long term game plan - Most studies done on melatonin and its effects have only been in the short term. For this reasons, for the most part it’s believed that melatonin is safe for children as long as it’s not a long-term solution. It should be more of a bridge solution while you figure out a better way to get your child back to their normal sleeping patterns.
Start with a minimal dosage. One of the things that’s uncertain as it relates to melatonin and kids is how much you can give them. Rather than assuming that your child needs that max dosage, start off with the smallest dosage and see what happens. It could even be that the melatonin is more of a placebo than anything and your child believing that they’re taking something that will help them to sleep is needed more than something that will actually make them sleep.
Buy from a trusted source – Because melatonin is considered a supplement and not a drug, it’s not as regulated by the FDA. When it comes to anything that you’re giving to your child, you should make sure that you’re buying it from a trusted source like your local pharmacy. This applies to melatonin as well. You should also buy it from a trusted brand as possible and check out any review or comments online that have been made by other parents.
Talk to your doctor – There’s a lot of grey area when it comes to melatonin and when it comes to grey area, the perfect person to talk to is your child’s doctor. By talking to your child’s doctor, you can potentially find other solutions besides melatonin. You can also get clarity on just how long a short term period is considered to be and what’s considered too young to give your child melatonin.
If you have given your child melatonin or considered it, you are not alone. The use of melatonin has become so common that they make it in gummy form and specifically market it for children. As a parent, it can feel like you face some sort of struggle on a daily basis and melatonin may seem like an easy way to win one of those battles. It’s quite possible that it is, just make sure that you inform and educate yourself so that you feel confident about your decision.
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