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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?

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Sleepless nights with kids is hard, and you may find yourself drawn to using a sleep support like melatonin. But is melatonin safe for kids? In this helpful guide we will go over the safety concerns with melatonin for kids and share the best options on the market today. 

Small child sleeping in bed with her stuffed animal - a teddy bear.

One of the biggest struggles as parents can be bedtime with your kids. I know both of my kids have had trouble sleeping at various points in their lives, and it can be frustrating to deal with!

It’s common for young children, and even some older children, to experience sleep issues. That might look like trouble falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night, or a combination of both. There are many reasons as to why kids might have sleep disturbances including bed wetting, sleep apnea, and various sleep disorders. However, for most little ones it is just a phase in which many parents tend to search out a sleep supplement to help. The most popular choice tends to be melatonin!

In this post we will cover the overall safety of melatonin for kids, when to use melatonin, and other alternatives to utilize when your child has trouble sleeping. Keep reading to discover the best ways to support your child’s circadian clock and good sleep habits!

What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland, which is part of your endocrine system (source). It helps to regulate your ​​circadian rhythm. In the evening, your brain will release melatonin to allow your body to begin the process of winding down. When taken in supplement form, it serves as a sleep aid to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. However, we do not know all of the long-term effects and dependency that this can cause.

How Does Melatonin Work?

As the pineal gland releases the melatonin hormone, you start to feel tired and calm. This process begins in the evening, queued by the decrease in light from the sun. Melatonin continues to be released throughout the night, helping you stay asleep and enter REM sleep.

However, nowadays there are many modern interferences that disrupt the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Things such as blue light and indoor lighting can interfere with production of the melatonin hormone, tricking the brain into thinking it is still daytime. The body needs dim-light or darkness to signal to the brain that it is time for sleep. In turn, the brain begins to get to work on sending out the sleep hormone. (source).

Is Melatonin Safe For Kids?

The overall safety of melatonin is not well known. Melatonin supplements should be safe for kids when used for occasional sleeplessness, following the right dose for their age. However, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate over the counter dietary supplements, the information isn’t super clear and there is still a lot to learn. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that parents select a product with the USP Verified Mark for the safest use.

Overall, melatonin is not the best long term solution for better sleep since we simply do not know enough about it yet. It would be most ideal to use a natural sleeping aid with ingredients such as chamomile and lavender, paired with practicing good sleep hygiene. However, if you do plan to use melatonin, here is more of breakdown of the safety and guidelines for different ages:

Melatonin For Kids 5+

If you are going to give your child melatonin, it is most appropriate for children ages 5 and up. For the safest approach, start them off with a very low dose and see how they do. Most children will respond to the lowest dosage in a pretty short amount of time.

Remember, we don’t have all the information on how melatonin might interfere with hormonal development and your child’s natural levels of melatonin. If your child has been having a hard time falling asleep, talk to your child’s doctor to see if short-term use of melatonin might be a good idea.

Melatonin For Toddlers

Is melatonin safe for toddlers? While you can give toddlers lower doses of melatonin, most available supplements are only deemed safe for kids 3-4 years of age and older. For children under 3, sleep problems tend to be due more so to behavioral changes (source).

These behavioral factors are best resolved by establishing a really good bedtime routine, and remaining patient with your little one. Melatonin for a 2 year old and under is not recommended and would not be considered safe. It would best to find natural alternatives to melatonin for toddlers, which you can find more information on later in this post.

Melatonin For Babies

Melatonin should not be given to babies as their bodies are still developing their circadian rhythm and mastering their own melatonin production. If you are concerned with your baby’s sleep habits, talk to their doctor to come up with the best, and safest, solution. One helpful tip is to keep your baby on a consistent sleep schedule, utilizing a sound machine and black out curtains for naps.

When Should You Use Melatonin For Your Child?

Melatonin can be used for short-term issues as a tool in helping your child regulate their internal clock. It can be effective in helping with problems such as sleep-onset insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or jet lag from travel. If they have been dealing with a ​​lack of sleep that is impacting their day to day life, talk to your pediatrician about using melatonin or melatonin alternatives for kids.

It is best to use melatonin 30 to 90 minutes before bed, giving it enough time to kick in and do its job. Every child is different so you may need to play around with the timing and see what works best.

Melatonin For Kids With ADHD

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a more challenging time winding down at night. Additionally, they may be prescribed Methylphenidate (MHP) which can impact sleep and increase the risk of sleep disorders (source).

According to the National Library of Medicine, melatonin was effective in improving sleep issues in over 60 percent of patients in a study done in Italy. It was reported to be well-tolerated with no negative side effects. Furthermore, the findings suggested that children with various neurodevelopmental disorders may respond best to taking extra melatonin, at 2.5mg-6mg. 

Melatonin For Kids With ASD 

There is some data available suggesting that short-term melatonin use can be an effective treatment for sleep disorders in children with ASD (source).

The National Library of Medicine shares an abstract on the link between individuals with autism spectrum disorder and sleep problems. The abstract states that across 4 studies there were found to be abnormalities including lower nighttime melatonin levels. Twenty clinical studies reported improvements in sleep for those with ASD, with the use of melatonin supplementation. These individuals were shown to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and have fewer disturbances in the night.

What Are Better Melatonin Alternatives For Kids?

There are many safe alternatives on the market to help your child fall asleep and get a quality night of rest! Many herbs, vitamins, and minerals can work to naturally calm the body without interfering with natural hormone production. One of my personal favorite melatonin alternatives for toddlers and kids is by the brand Hiya!

Hiya’s Kids Bedtime Essentials vitamin supports relaxation and promotes a good night’s sleep. This nightly chewable is non-habit forming, with the bonus of supporting brain health!

It’s made with chamomile flower extract, GABA, L-theanine, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for a powerhouse of ingredients to aid in sleep. Plus, it is non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains no added sugar. Children ages 2 and up can safely use Hiya vitamins to help with sleep!

Establishing A Good Bedtime Routine

In addition to supplements, it is key to establish a healthy nighttime routine for your child. This encourages your child to naturally wind down. Kids tend to do really well with a structured routine, and doing the same things each evening signals to the brain that it is time for bed. Here are a few helpful sleep habits to implement at night:

  • No screen time before bed (limit all blue light from electronic devices)
  • No liquid 2 hours before bed (to reduce sleep interruptions)
  • Dim the lights in the home (close blinds if it is still light out)
  • Diffuse kid-friendly essential oils like lavender or vetiver
  • Consider using a white noise machine
  • Read bedtime stories or play relaxing music
  • Warm bath or shower with aromatherapy
  • Practice mindfulness exercises and relaxation techniques

What Is The Best Melatonin For Kids?

Have you tried all the natural sleep aids and established a consistent night routine, with no improvements for your child? In this case, melatonin may feel like the best option for your family. If you plan to use melatonin, I recommend the brands below for the safest melatonin for kids. Most can be purchased online or at a local health food store.

Zarbee’s Melatonin For Kids

Bottle of Zarbee's sleep supplement for kids with melatonin.

Zarbee’s Children’s Sleep with Melatonin gummies promote peaceful sleep for kids 3 and up. The gummies have a natural berry flavor. This children’s melatonin also comes in chewable tablets and liquid form.

Ingredients: The main ingredient here is just melatonin, with 1 mg per gummy. You will also find honey and sugars for sweetness.

Cost: $9.25 per bottle (50 count)

What Customers Say:

“My son has issues falling asleep at night, literally since the day he was born. These help him realize “oh, I’m ready for bed” and he falls asleep easily. I’ve tried them as an adult and 1 gummy is all I need! The taste is great.”

“These work only if your child is tired. I’ve given him the melatonin and maybe he was getting used to it, not sure but it ended up keeping him awake! For maybe once a week or twice but I would not dispense them to him daily. They do build a tolerance.”

No artificial sweeteners
No artificial flavors
No dyes
Pediatrician approved
Added sugar
Contains “natural flavors” which are not specified
May be habit forming in the long term
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Natrol Kids Sleep Gummies

Bottle of Natrol Kids sleep supplement.

Natrol Kids Sleep + Calm offers strawberry flavored melatonin gummies. I find this to be one of the safest melatonin brands for kids, with just 0.5 mg of melatonin and a blend of helpful natural sleep aids. Safe for children 4 and up.

Ingredients: There is 0.5mg of melatonin per gummy, along with L-Theanine, chamomile, lavender, and lemon balm.

Cost: $13.87 per bottle (60 gummies)

What Customers Say:

“I’ve tried melatonin in the past without success, but something about this combination works very well for me.”

“My son is the type to wake up every night and that has been hard on me and my sleep. The first night, I gave him just one gummy and within the 30 minutes he tells me that he feels calm and ready for bed.”

No artificial flavors or sweeteners
Free from preservatives
Colored with fruit and vegetable juice
Contains botanical blend
Added sugar (organic)
Has “natural flavors” which are not specified
May be habit forming in the long term
Buy Now

OLLY Kids Melatonin

Bottle of OLLY Kids sleep gummies.

OLLY Kids Sleep Gummies offer a combination of melatonin and botanical extracts to promote a good night’s rest. Recommended for children 4 years and older.

Ingredients: Each gummy includes 0.5 mg of melatonin along with L-Theanine, chamomile extract, passionflower extract, and lemon balm extract.

Cost: $11.74 per bottle (70 count)

What Customers Say:

“If your kid has trouble “winding down” at the end of the day, this is a small dose of melatonin (our dr approved) that helps them get into the going to bed groove/routine.”

“This is really good for my toddler for the nights where she’s restless. I give her 1-2 at a time right before bed and it helps her fall asleep easily.”

Added botanical extracts
No synthetic colors
No artificial flavors
Contains canola oil
Contains added sugar
Contains “natural flavors” which are not specified
May be habit forming in the long term
Buy Now

Mommy’s Bliss Liquid Melatonin

Bottle of Mommy's Bliss liquid melatonin for kids.

Mommy’s Bliss is founded by a mom who worked as a  pediatric nurse, midwife, and doula. The medley of ingredients in this melatonin liquid supplement aim to support your child’s natural sleep process. Recommended for children 3 and up, with a delicious grape flavor!

Ingredients: Melatonin is paired with organic chamomile, passionflower, and lemon balm for a well-rounded sleep support liquid.

Cost: $8.07 per bottle (4 fl oz)

What Customers Say:

“Great for sleep regressions once they’re over 2 1/2. Would not use it every night! Works within 30 mins if not sooner.”

“On days where my daughter is super active and refuses to sleep I give her 1ml even tho the dosage is for 2ml and she’s out like a light 15 after taking it.”

No artificial colors or flavors
No added sugar
Free from filler ingredients
Free of top 8 allergens
Has added botanical blend
Contains sugar alcohols which can interfere with digestion
Bottle is on the smaller side
Some kids may not like a liquid supplement
May be habit forming in the long term
Buy Now

VICKS Pure Zzzzs For Kids

Bottle of VICKS Kids Melatonin supplement.

VICKS PureZzzs Kidz + Immunity melatonin gummies for kids support better sleep and immune health! The berry flavored gummy vitamins are intended for children 4 and up.

Ingredients: These gummies contain melatonin and PURE Zzzs Kidz Blend which includes chamomile and lavender extract. Elderberry and zinc are added to support your child’s immune system.

Cost: $15.90 per bottle (60 count)

What Customers Say:

“I give these to my son at bedtime and they help him fall asleep within 20 minutes and he sleeps so soundly!”

“My daughter is 8, and sometimes she has trouble falling asleep. Especially after a break from school. She says they work, but she’s not a fan of the taste.”

Added immune support
Includes chamomile & lavender
Added sugar
Contains maltodextrin
Contains soy
Has “natural flavors” which are not specified
May be habit forming in the long term
Buy Now

How Does A Melatonin Free Supplement Compare?

Let’s take a deeper look at Hiya Bedtime Essentials, the best alternative to melatonin for kids on the market today. I love Hiya because not only does it contain 100% all natural ingredients, no added sugar, and it works! I’ve tested it with my own kids, and it absolutely helps them wind down more easily and fall asleep faster. And it also happens to be non-habit forming, since it doesn’t contain melatonin.

Hiya Bedtime Vitamins

Bottle of Hiya bedtime vitamin for kids - melatonin free sleep aid.

Hiya created their Kids Bedtime Essentials vitamin to support relaxation and a good night’s sleep, without needing any melatonin. This nightly chewable is non-habit forming and has the bonus of supporting brain health. It can be taken every night, or just whenever your kids need a little support with winding down for bed. Great for kids aged 2 and up!

Ingredients: Chamomile flower extract, GABA, L-theanine, magnesium, and vitamin B6 for a powerhouse of ingredients to aid in sleep.

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:

  • “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.”
No added sugar, but tastes great!
Dairy-free & vegan
Non-GMO, Gluten-Free
Supports relaxation and calm
No gummy additives (which can contribute to cavities)
Sustainable & eco friendly – comes in a refillable glass jar (and includes a sticker pack to decorate the jar)
Sleep aid for kids with NO melatonin – non habit forming!
On the pricier side (but currently have a 50% off your first order!)
These chewables contain mannitol, which is a sugar alcohol. In very high doses, it can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. However, this should not be an issue with Hiya Bedtime Essentials because there is a very small amount used. No customers have reported any side effects from this product.
Buy Now

Side Effects Of Melatonin In Kids

The most common side effects associated with the use of melatonin include drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, and grogginess the next day. Melatonin supplement side effects from short term use might also include:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Increased risk of bedwetting 
  • Agitation
  • Increased alertness (in some cases, melatonin causes the opposite effect)
  • High blood pressure (can worsen blood pressure for those taking blood pressure medications)

When taking melatonin for long periods of time, you may experience a decrease in effectiveness. The main concern is the potential impact on the body’s natural ability to produce this hormone itself. As you develop more of a dependency on melatonin, the natural amount of melatonin produced by the pineal gland may decrease. While it is said to be non-habit forming, you may still end up having to wean your child off of it.

Melatonin Dosage For Kids By Age

The melatonin dosage will depend on a few factors such as your child’s age, but it is always best to start out with the lowest dose. You can use below for a general guideline, but it is best to follow the specific directions on the back of the supplement packaging. 

Preschool (Ages 3-5): 1-2 mg

School-Aged (Ages 6-12): 1-3 mg 

Adolescent (13+): 1-6 mg

When opting for a higher dose of melatonin for teens, consult with their doctor first.

Melatonin is suggested to be used for no more than 6 months, with the ideal timeframe being closer to 2-3 weeks for children. Those with ADHD and ASD are an exception to this, in which case they may benefit from longer use (source).

Melatonin Poisoning In Kids

Over the past decade there has been a rise in melatonin-related calls, reporting accidental overconsumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been over 260,000 reports to poison control centers from 2012- 2021. Overall, 84% of the children were asymptomatic, while 14.7% had to be hospitalized. At Central Ohio Poison Center, there are roughly 800 children per year with unintentional melatonin ingestions, without any significant impacts or effects on their health.

While your kid is unlikely to suffer major consequences from melatonin overdoses, it is best to practice safe storage and give the proper dosages. Keep melatonin out of the reach of children and follow the directions exactly when giving a supplement to your kids.

How Do You Know If Melatonin Is Right For Your Child?

Melatonin may be right for your child if they have not been getting enough sleep to thrive during the day and struggle with issues such as sleep-onset insomnia. As a precaution, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends talking to your child’s pediatrician or health care professional before starting them on melatonin. It’s likely that melatonin will not be recommended for kids for long-term use, but may be used as a safe temporary addition to their evening routine.

For those reasons, Hiya Bedtime Vitamins may be a better fit overall for your child! This brand offers one of the best childrens melatonin alternatives, in a healthy chewable form.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful in your search for sleep remedies for your child! Whether you are looking for the best kids melatonin or a natural sleep aid alternative, you should be able to find a safe option here!

Overall, it is important to consider the potential risks of melatonin for kids and remember that it is best for short-term use. I highly recommend creating a positive sleep routine for your little ones, incorporating herbal remedies and a calm environment. I’ve found Hiya to be the best sleep aid for kids, if you are looking for alternatives to melatonin. All of these additions will serve as a better long term solution to aid in your child’s sleeplessness!

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