Best Sleep Aid For Kids (Melatonin Free!)This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
If you’ve been looking for the best sleep aid for kids, you’ve come to the right spot! With so many options on the market, it can feel a bit overwhelming to find the right one for your children. This guide will break down the best melatonin-free sleep supplements, along with other natural remedy ideas for an overall healthy sleep routine.
Some kids naturally have trouble “turning their brain off” and relaxing before bed, leading to hours of trying to get to bed or full on sleepless nights. As a parent, it can feel so stressful and exhausting. Quality sleep plays a critical role in a child’s growth and development, so it is important to get kids into a healthy, consistent sleep routine to ensure they have enough sleep each night.
Many parents turn to sleep supplements, with the go-to option being melatonin. While melatonin does tend to work, there are concerns about the use of melatonin with kids. This post will provide you with more options to help your little ones go to bed naturally. Keep reading to learn about some of the downsides to melatonin and recommendations for melatonin-free sleep supplements!
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
The sleep requirements vary depending on your child’s age, with younger children needing more sleep! Here are the general guidelines for how much sleep your little one should be getting:
1-2 Years Old: 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
3-5 Years Old: 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
6-12 Years Old: 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
13-18 Years Old: 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
If your child does not get the proper amount of sleep due to trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, it could be a good idea to look into a sleep aid for kids without melatonin.
What Are Some Common Sleep Problems Children Have?
If you find yourself constantly wondering, “why can’t my child fall asleep?” just know you are not alone! Throughout the years children can experience many issues around sleep, depending on multiple factors. A few of the common sleep problems children experience include:
- Sleep apnea
- Issues related to jet lag
- Nightmares/night terrors
- Restlessness/ restless leg syndrome
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Circadian Rhythm sleep disorders
- Behavioral problems
Some sleep problems are more serious and may involve underlying health conditions that need medical help. However, many sleep issues can be corrected with the temporary assistance from a non melatonin sleep aid and changes to nighttime routines. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or sleep expert to find the best ways to go about adding in a dietary supplement.
How Do Natural Sleep Aids Help Improve Kids’ Sleep?
Natural sleep aids for kids use herbs, vitamins, and/or minerals to help calm the child’s mind and body, promoting relaxation. Winding down before bedtime is key to a good night’s sleep, but sometimes kids just need a little extra help! Supplements such as Hiya’s Bedtime Vitamin can be a great solution to the rambunctious evening energy and racing mind, allowing your little one to feel at ease and ready for bed.
I specifically highlight Hiya’s since it is my personal favorite, with no sugar added, no melatonin, Non-GMO ingredients, and designed specifically with kids in mind. Even the bottle itself is made to be decorated with stickers! You can find more details on Hiya, as well as other great sleep supplement brands later in this post.
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- Melatonin free!
- Safe for kids age 2+
What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The brain’s pineal gland produces this sleep hormone to signal to the body that it is time for sleep, making you feel tired as it gets dark outside. Melatonin promotes calmness and helps you fall asleep faster and sleep soundly. (source).
Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?
Medical evidence shows that melatonin supplements are safe for kids when given the proper dosage for age and size, under parental supervision. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages chatting with your child’s pediatrician or healthcare professional before starting a new supplement like melatonin. If your child is taking other medications there could be potential interactions. Additionally, since the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, there is still a gray area when it comes to melatonin and safety for kids.
Additionally, it is important to note that there is little information available around the long-term effects of melatonin supplementation in children. It’s possible that long-term use could impact the body’s natural hormone development, interfering with not only the production of melatonin but possibly other hormones, as well (source). It may also lead to daytime drowsiness. Which is why, melatonin is not a good long term or permanent solution for better sleep. Personally, when looking for over the counter sleep aids for children, I would want a melatonin free sleep aid for my kids.
Note: No matter what supplement you use, please always keep the supplement out of reach of children to avoid accidental ingestion. If melatonin poisoning occurs, call the poison control center immediately.
How Much Melatonin Can Kids Have?
The melatonin dosage will depend on a few factors such as your child’s age, but it is always best to start out with a low dose first. This is usually around 0.5mg to 1mg of melatonin given to your kid 30-45 minutes before bed. Older children may be able to take a higher dose, from 3mg to 6mg of over the counter melatonin. Keep in mind that many adults are also able to benefit from a similar dosage, so most kids likely won’t need the highest dosage.
Potential Side Effects, Risks And Concerns Associated With Melatonin Use In Children
Melatonin supplement side effects reported in children include:
- Increased risk of bedwetting
- Increased alertness (in some cases, melatonin causes the opposite effect)
- High blood pressure (can worsen blood pressure for those taking blood pressure medications)
Most of the known side effects with children are mild, but as mentioned previously there are unknown long-term effects and concerns. The main concern being the potential impact on the body’s natural ability to produce this hormone itself resulting in low melatonin levels. Additionally, over the past decade there has been a rise in accidental overdosing and calls to poison control for children, so it is important to be aware of possible complications.
Best Melatonin Free Sleep Aids For Kids
Hiya created their Kids Bedtime Essentials vitamin to support relaxation and a good night’s sleep. This nightly chewable is non-habit forming and has the bonus of supporting brain health! When looking for a melatonin alternative to consider for restful sleep, this is among the best! Perfect for children ages 2 and up, making it a great option for a natural sleep aid for toddlers and kids of all ages!
Ingredients Overview: This sleep aid vitamin is made with chamomile flower extract, GABA, L-theanine, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for a powerhouse of ingredients to aid in sleep. These are all a great alternative to melatonin.
Cost: $35 per bottle (30 count), with a discounted rate when purchasing additional bottles.
What Customers Say: Hiya has thousands of 5 star reviews for its multivitamins and probiotics. Their bedtime essentials is brand new, so there are limited reviews for this product currently, but given what I’ve seen from Hiya and their commitment to high quality, effective ingredients, I believe they’re a great option for bedtime supplements for kids. Here are some quotes from early users of their bedtime essentials:
- “My kids love these and prefer them over other brands”
- “These vitamins really help my kids wind down and relax for bed”
- “These chewable tablets are actually really tasty and easy to eat and my kiddos love them.”
Zarbees gummies help kids to relax and unwind before bedtime. The gummies have a raspberry lemon flavor and are made with pectin for a vegetarian-friendly option! Recommended for children 3 years and up. This is definitely a top sleep aid for kids!
Ingredients Overview: There is 50 mg of chamomile in each gummy, providing calming benefits for relaxation and a healthy bedtime routine.
Cost: $13 per bottle (30 count)
What Customers Say:
- “My kids like the taste and works really quickly to relax them. I love that it doesn’t contain melatonin and uses chamomile instead.”
- “My 8 and 6 year old love the taste and I love that they’re falling asleep faster at night.”
- “The gummies are easy to chew and they have a nice flavor to them.”
MaryRuth’s sleep support gummies are a great option for vegans, made with pectin instead of gelatin. Try this night time sleep aid for kids 2 years of age and up.
Ingredients Overview: MaryRuth’s herbal sleep aid without melatonin is made with a blend of vitamin B6, chamomile flower extract, L-Theanine, and lemon balm, which each play a role in calming the mind and body and promoting better sleep.
Cost: $22 per bottle (60 count)
What Customers Say:
- “Love these Mary Ruth’s sleep gummies, no melatonin which is great but still helps calm my son to easily fall asleep”
- “My 5 year old, who is very high energy, did wind down a bit better in the evening. But they didn’t help him fall asleep faster.”
- “This product is great for over tired, restless little ones.”
Genexa’s Kids’ Sleepology is a chewable homeopathic option to promote restful sleep and sweet dreams. This organic nighttime sleep aid is physician formulated and recommended for children ages 3 and up.
Ingredients Overview: This chewable offers a natural melatonin alternative with a homeopathic blend with essence of passionflower, chamomile, alfalfa, and valerian in a gentle dosage for little kids!
Cost: $12 per bottle (60 count)
What Customers Say:
- “These taste like cake. My 8 year old prefers them to melatonin spray on nights when he’s having a hard time falling asleep.”
- “My toddler son used this. He always wakes up in a good mood. It does help him sleep most of the time.”
- “It’s amazing, he’s out and he isn’t restless at all!”
ChildLife offers a no melatonin sleep aid for kids formulated by a leading Naturopathic Pediatrician in the United States. The high quality herbal ingredients help to improve a child’s rest for occasional sleeplessness.
Ingredients Overview: ChildLife Sleep Essential liquid is formulated with active ingredients ETAS® Asparagus officinalis Extract, L-theanine, and a proprietary blend of lemon balm, passion flower, and valerian root.
Cost: $15 per bottle (2 fl oz)
What Customers Say:
- “It works well on my kids. I don’t use it often just when needed. It’s easy to give to them because I can just mix it with whatever they are drinking at the time.”
- “Both times she slept all night and didn’t wake up. She woke up with no issues and wasn’t cranky.”
- “This does work, but at 2-3 droppers full for an older child, its a bit expensive and won’t last long.”
Not only does Hyland’s organic sleep supplement offer support for better sleep, it also has the added bonus of immune support. This is especially great to give to kids as they go back to school or during the fall and winter months. Made for ages 2 and up. It is a great sleep aid with no melatonin!
Ingredients Overview: These organic gummies are made with a blend of chamomile and passionflower to support relaxation and lemon balm to support restful sleep. It also has elderberry, zinc, and vitamin C to support the immune system.
Cost: $18 per bottle (60 count)
What Customers Say:
- “This seems to work well. Melatonin gave her intense nightmares but this has been easing her into sleep for a week now”
- “These gummies have a great chewy texture and good flavor that makes them easy to take.”
- “My daughter likes the taste of them, but we can’t really tell if they are effective or not.”
Since this nighttime sleep aid for kids does contain sugar and gelatin, they have a more similar texture and taste to regular gummies. This makes them a good option for picky toddlers and young kids.
Ingredients Overview: These gummies include passionflower, chamomile, and lemon balm with 16-17 mg of each!
Cost: $7.49 per bottle (60 count)
What Customers Say:
- “My son has ADHD and it keeps him from going to sleep. So when I saw this I really wanted to try it especially since it was melatonin free. It seems to calm him down enough for him to fall asleep which I’m so grateful for. He loves the taste and says they’re soft and chewy.”
- “These cute little teddy bear shaped gummies have a great taste and work quite well. They are a good value for sixty gummies.”
- “I have no idea if these do anything at all. They taste yummy and the ingredients shouldn’t hurt you, but I don’t think they have any impact at all.”
Boiron SleepCalm offers a homeopathic approach to restless sleep and intermittent awakenings with plant-based ingredients. These meltaway pellets are recommended as a herbal sleep aid for kids 3 and up, helping them get back to their natural sleep pattern.
Ingredients Overview: This natural sleep aid includes a blend of homeopathic ingredients with the essence of chamomile, passionflower, hyoscyamus niger, and more.
Cost: $10 per tube (160 pellets)
What Customers Say:
- “I’ve noticed a huge difference in my son’s sleep since using this product. He sleeps much more soundly”
- “This holistic sleep aid for kids works very well, and they aren’t left feeling drowsy in the morning like with melatonin.”
- “These work! They don’t knock your kid out, but if you’re looking for something to naturally help wind your kids down at night this is it.”
Other Natural Remedies For Better Sleep In Kids
There are a few other supplements to help kids sleep, including different vitamins and essential oils! Here are some of the most common options when it comes to natural alternatives to melatonin for kids:
Another non melatonin sleep aid for kids is magnesium! Magnesium can be extremely helpful in promoting better sleep quality. It aids in stress management and can naturally quiet the mind and calm the body. I love this topical roll-on Magnesium Sleep Balm to ease hyperactivity and improve sleep.
Lavender And Other Essential Oils For Sleep
Essential oils can create a calm environment for your little one. Place a few drops in a diffuser or humidifier, or rub on their chest, back, or feet with a carrier oil such as coconut oil. Here are a few of the best kid-friendly essential oils for sleep:
Lavender: Lavender calms the nervous system and promotes a longer, deeper sleep, making it the best sleep aid for anxious kids. I love this Lavender Sleep Balm which includes organic lavender essential oil.
Frankincense: This essential oil relieves stress and promotes relaxation, allowing for deep sleep and combating insomnia.
Chamomile: Chamomile could be considered the best natural sleep aid for kids. Using it in essential oil form is soothing and relaxing, applied topically or in a diffuser.
Vetiver: Vetiver has a natural sedative property to gently relieve stress and tension, and alleviate insomnia. It provides a peaceful sleep, allowing the brain to calm down.
Bergamot: Bergamot is a great essential oil to use before bedtime, as it relaxes the mind and body for a sound sleep.
Herbs For Sleep
There are many herbal alternatives to melatonin for sleep that you can give to kids. Herbs have been shown to promote more quality sleep, not only helping children fall asleep but also sleep more sound and deep. Some of the best herbs for sleep aid for kids include chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm, and lavender. They can be given to kids in herbal teas before bed.
Reducing Screen Time
If your child has access to screen time before bed, consider reducing this or creating a new nighttime routine away from screens. Blue light from screens can disrupt the normal circadian rhythm and cause disruptions in a child’s sleep. The content can also stir up the kid’s mind, leaving them more awake than sleepy. It is best to be away from screens at least an hour before bedtime. Try incorporating other activities such as reading, puzzles, drawing, or playtime.
Establishing A Consistent Sleep Routine
Kids tend to thrive with routine, so implementing a consistent sleep schedule and healthy sleep habits can be extremely beneficial if your child has been having trouble with falling or staying asleep. This might look different for each kid, including activities and practices such as a warm bath, story time, and lights out at the same time each night.
Creating A Sleep-Conducive Environment
Set your child up for success by creating a sleep-conducive environment for them. Again, this will be dependent on your child’s needs but consider getting a white noise machine, providing them with a nightlight in their room, and keeping things quiet and calm in the house leading up to and after bedtime.
Foods That Promote Sleep
There are many foods that promote, and disrupt, sleep. Some foods naturally contain melatonin which won’t affect a child in the same way a supplement would, yet can help with sleep! It is a great replacement for melatonin supplements. These foods include dark cherries, fish, and nuts. Bananas are another great option, with both tryptophan and melatonin. A warm glass of milk before bed can be helpful, too! Just make sure to have them drink it about an hour before bed so they have time to go potty before falling asleep.
Relaxation Techniques And Mindfulness Exercises For Kids
Adding relaxation and mindfulness practices into your child’s nighttime routine can be a great way to calm them down! Exercises include deep breathing, gentle yoga, massage, and squeezing (tensing) areas of the body then releasing. You can also incorporate activities earlier in the day with physical activity such as going on nature walks, sports, and more.
For more extreme cases behavioral techniques may be helpful. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been known to improve long-term sleep issues such as insomnia by adjusting your child’s behavior before bed and implementing proper sleep hygiene.
Overall, melatonin is safe for kids for short-term use. Long-term usage of melatonin is not well known yet, and you should always consult with your pediatrician before starting your child on melatonin. It’s likely that melatonin will not be recommended for kids for long term use because some studies show it can be habit-forming and may affect hormone production. I find it best to stick to sleeping aids without melatonin to avoid any future issues.
I would not recommend that kids take melatonin every night, due to the unclear safety around long-term, regular use. Instead, I would recommend using a natural sleep aid or alternative to melatonin like the tablets from Hiya or the other bedtime vitamins listed here.
Melatonin side effects are usually mild and can include drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, irritability, and grogginess the next day.
If you are unsure of what to take for sleep when melatonin doesn’t work, or simply do not want to use melatonin, there are many safe alternatives. Look for natural sleep supplements that include ingredients such as chamomile, passionflower, valerian, lemon balm, L-theanine, GABA, or magnesium. You can find these ingredients in Hiya and the other sleep aid supplements listed in this guide!
There are many safe sleep aids for kids that can be given as alternatives to melatonin. Keep in mind, what works for some might not work for others. Overall, all of the supplement options we went over in this post are great choices! I find that even the most effective sleep aids work best when paired with a good bedtime routine and healthy sleep environment.
If you are unable to determine whether sleep medicines are necessary or not it is best to consult a professional to help! Kids go through phases with their sleep and oftentimes sleep issues will pass on their own. Taking natural supplements formulated for kids should be fine to support them during that phase, as it will not be habit-forming. If you find that your child is still having persistent sleep problems, other approaches may be needed.
Melatonin-free sleep aids that are designed specifically for kids are safe to give to your children! Follow the dosage directions on the package, and consult with a pediatrician if you are unsure about ingredients.
Every child is different and you may need to play around with the time frame between giving the supplement and bedtime. Once you find what seems to be the best time, try out the routine for a week or so to give the melatonin alternatives a fair chance. The body and mind might need some time to adjust and respond to the ingredients.
Every person’s experience with these types of supplements are likely going to be different, but from my personal experience, I can say that the Hiya bedtime essentials do work – they seem to help my kids wind down and relax after a busy day and ease into sleep quickly!
More Helpful Healthy Kids Guides!
- Best Kids Vitamin For Brain Development
- Best Probiotics For Kids
- Best Kids Immunity Vitamins
- Beta Kids Review
- Best Natural Products for Babies
- Healthiest Children’s Vitamins
- Best Vitamins For Teens
- Hiya Vitamins Review
- Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?
With the uncertainty of long-term usage of melatonin and the reliance it can create, natural sleep supplements without melatonin seems to be a much better approach! I hope that this guide has helped you decide on the best non melatonin sleep aid for your child, as well as inspire you to try out additional remedies and practices. In combination, all natural sleep aid for kids and consistent night routines can provide your child with the restful sleep that they need to grow and develop!