Melatonin for kids: Dosage, products, and safety

For most kids, some research indicates that melatonin is healthy. Scientists are also skeptical about the consequences of long-term usage, however.

A kid sleeping

To promote sleep and regulate the internal body clock, the body naturally produces melatonin at night.

To help with sleep issues, some individuals take a synthetic form. Synthetic melatonin is classified by the United States as a dietary supplement, rather than a drug.

We discuss the latest studies on the safety of melatonin and the most appropriate dosages for children in this article. We also mention some of the gummy and liquid melatonin products for children that are best tested.

Is it safe for kids to take melatonin?

A 2016 review of existing studies showed that in healthy children, melatonin tends to be safe and well-tolerated. However, no research has been conducted into the daily use of melatonin in children and the long-term effects of melatonin.

The authors of the analysis also advise that melatonin should be avoided in children with immune disorders or those receiving immunomodulatory therapy.

A meta-analysis of 13 studies in 2018 indicates that melatonin is safe for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, but more research is needed to support these findings.

Other research suggests that in children with autism spectrum disorder, melatonin can help sleep and have some other benefits.

However, as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns, hormonal development may be impaired by melatonin supplements. Still, there is too little evidence from studies in humans to confirm this finding.

Reports suggest that melatonin side effects are typically mild in children and may include:

  • feeling drowsy
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • increased bedwetting or urinating in the evening
  • agitation

Dosages for children

Dosages for children
For infants, there is no known safe dose of melatonin.

It is important to remember that melatonin is regarded as a supplement rather than a medication by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a consequence, the testing and safety regulations of a medication are not subject to melatonin. This suggests that the quality might not always be represented by the labeling of melatonin products.

An analysis of 31 melatonin supplements in 2017 showed, however, that none contained the amounts advertised on their labels.

Overall, talking to a doctor before giving melatonin to a child is the safest way. They can also provide guidance on the best dosages.

There is little research into the successful dosages of melatonin. A study published in 2016 found that no specific recommendations are still available and that different studies suggest different amounts.

As many kids seem to respond to doses in the 0.5–1.0 milligram (mg) range, it might be better to start with the lowest dosage.

It may be safe to raise the dose if this is unsuccessful. The dosages recommended by age are as follows:

  • 1 mg of melatonin for infants
  • 2.5–3.0 mg for older children
  • 5 mg for teenagers
  • For children with special needs, a dose that falls within a range of 0.5–10.0 mg

They also suggest that melatonin be given 30 to 60 minutes prior to bedtime.

Some other products can contain melatonin, such as relaxation tinctures or cough medicines, so be sure to check the labels of any other treatments or remedies before you are given melatonin.

Outside of the U.S., many countries categorize melatonin as a drug, and it is only available by prescription.

Some top melatonin products for kids

Please note that the following claims are only based on research. These products have not been tried by anyone at Medical News Today, including the writer.

Before giving melatonin to a child, it is often necessary to consult a doctor, as other therapies and interventions are better supported by studies and could be safer and more successful.

Natrol Kids Melatonin Gummies

According to the product’s website, Natrol Kids Melatonin Gummies:

  • contain 1 mg of melatonin per serving
  • should be taken 20–30 minutes before bedtime
  • are drug-free
  • are not habit-forming
  • are non-GMO
  • are vegan
  • are gluten-free
  • contain no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives
  • have a berry flavor
  • are suitable for children aged 4 or over

Zarbee’s Children’s Sleep Liquid with Melatonin

According to the product’s website, Zarbee’s Children’s Sleep Liquid with Melatonin:

  • contains 1 mg of melatonin per serving
  • should be taken 30–60 minutes before bedtime
  • is drug-free
  • is not habit-forming
  • is suitable for children aged 3 or over
  • has a natural berry flavor
  • is free from dyes, artificial flavors, and gluten

Vicks Pure Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Liquid

According to the product’s website, Vicks Pure Zzzs Kidz Melatonin Liquid:

  • contains a low dosage of melatonin: 0.5 mg per dose
  • should be taken 30 minutes before bedtime
  • is drug-free
  • is not habit-forming
  • has a natural berry flavor
  • is free from gluten, lactose, and dyes
  • contains no artificial colors or high-fructose corn syrup
  • is safe for children aged 4 and over

It may be best to begin with a 10 milliliter (ml) dose and increase to 20 ml if needed.

LUNA Kids Sleep Aid

LUNA Kids Sleep Aid

According to the product’s website, LUNA Kids Sleep Aid chewable gummies:

  • contain 0.2 mg of melatonin per serving
  • also contain chamomile, lemon balm, and valerian root, for added relaxation
  • should be taken 20–30 minutes before bed
  • are suitable for children aged 4 and over
  • have been tested by a third party
  • are vegan
  • are non-GMO
  • have a tropical berry flavor
  • are sugar-free, but contain stevia leaf extract and xylitol

Wink Naturals Kids Sleep Drops

According to the product’s website, Wink Naturals Kids Sleep Drops:

  • contain 1 mg of melatonin per dropper serving
  • contain only four ingredients: glycerin, water, natural berry flavoring, and melatonin
  • are not habit-forming
  • are suitable for children aged 3 years or older
  • should be taken 30 minutes before bedtime
  • are doctor-developed and recommended

OLLY Kids Sleep

OLLY Kids Sleep

According to the product’s website, OLLY Kids Sleep melatonin gummies:

  • contain 0.5 mg of melatonin per gummy
  • also contain L-theanine, chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm for added relaxation
  • are suitable for ages 4 and over
  • are suitable for occasional sleep support
  • have a raspberry flavor

Tired Teddies Invisimix

Tired Teddies Invisimix

This product is a bottle of capsules that contain powder. The powder is dissolvable and a person mixes it into foods or drinks. According to the product’s website, Tired Teddies Invisimix:

  • has an undetectable flavor
  • contains 0.3 mg of melatonin per serving — the amount that a child’s body produces for sleep, the company report
  • also contains organic chamomile, organic lemon balm, organic lettuce, and allulose
  • is not habit-forming
  • is suitable from 1 year of age
  • leads to significant improvement in sleep in children with attention deficit disorders or autism, as reported by parents, the company claims
  • is pediatrician-recommended
  • contains no artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, or flavors
  • does not contain gluten, dairy, sugar, or nuts
  • is non-GMO

This product is also available in a bubblegum-flavored chewable version.

Creating an environment for sleep

The first and most important steps are identifying the root cause and maintaining proper sleep hygiene when addressing sleep problems.

For instance, it is vital to avoid exposure before bedtime to bright lights and lights from electronic devices, as these can block the body’s natural production of melatonin.

In addition, a 2014 study found that light suppresses the development of melatonin almost twice as much in kids as it does in adults.

Talk to a doctor if a child is having chronic sleep problems, as this can affect physical and mental health.

Summary

Research shows that, for healthy children as well as those with autism spectrum disorder and some health conditions, melatonin is safe in the short term.

At present, there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the long-term effects of melatonin in infants, and some research suggests that hormone output may be impaired.

Discuss with a doctor any plans to use melatonin. As a short-term complement to improvements in sleep hygiene, they can suggest it.

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