Ensuring that your baby enjoys a good night’s sleep is important but you need to be careful about the solutions you seek. Many parents turn to medication to get their kids to sleep. However, before you reach for over-the-counter medication, you need to find out if it is safe for your baby. Melatonin may be a popular option for those looking to get some sleep, but that does not mean you should give it to your baby. Carry out some research on the safety of giving melatonin to babies and toddlers.
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What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement that is offered as a treatment solution for sleep disorders. The naturally occurring hormone that is produced by the human brain helps to regulate the sleep cycle. When used appropriately, melatonin may be an effective treatment for those with severe sleep disorders. Many people believe that the supplement can be used safely with young kids. However, it is very important to realize that the long-term safety of the product has not been proven. The drug should only be given under the guidance of a health care provider.
How Melatonin Works
Melatonin works by regulating the body’s sleep pattern or rhythm. This helps to facilitate sleep during the night and wakefulness during the day. Melatonin also helps to control the release of estrogen and progesterone, female reproductive hormones. Supplements that contain melatonin are recommended for addressing deficiencies in the naturally occurring hormone. The deficiencies can occur due to different reasons including sleep disorders, stress, and other neurological abnormalities. Melatonin is effective in treating sleep problems in children with neurobehavioral and developmental disorders.
Is Melatonin Safe for Babies?
Research has not yet determined the safety of the drug to treat sleep problems in babies. Newborns secrete a very low amount of melatonin. The production increases as the child grows. Most babies will establish sleep patterns or circadian rhythms several weeks after birth-between 6 to 18 weeks. This sleep pattern or internal clock will determine how much sleep the baby gets. Experts recommend that babies between 4 to 12 months get at least 12 to 16 hours of sleep in a 24- hour period. The safety of using melatonin on healthy babies has not been established. If your baby is not getting enough sleep, talk to a pediatrician.
Melatonin for Toddlers
Melatonin can help some children to fall asleep faster and to sleep longer. Some parents use the product to treat insomnia in toddlers with normal development. There are no studies available evaluating the use of this medication. No one knows about the long term risks and side effects. It is never a good idea for a parent to give medication to toddlers without a doctor’s guidance. Melatonin may be a solution for some children, but it should not replace keeping a healthy sleep schedule. Remember that some toddlers experience a sleep-onset delay. This means that it takes them longer to fall asleep than other kids.
Possible Risks of Melatonin
Melatonin may be safe for children when used in low doses, but the warnings should not be ignored. Most health experts consider the product to be risky for use among most toddlers. The benefits of the product are only worth it when a toddler has sleep problems that significantly disrupt his health or affect development. Medication should only be the last option after drug-free treatment has failed. Establishing a safe dosage is essential but only on the advice of a physician. Proper studies are not available but health experts warn that when used on toddlers, melatonin can trigger possible side effects like seizers.
Apart from helping with sleep patterns, melatonin helps to reduce body temperature. This sends a sleep signal to the brain. It has been used successfully to treat a number of children who have sleep disorders. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that melatonin doesn’t work the same way for everyone. The timing of the dose is vital for its effectiveness. Ultimately, good sleep habits and routine are the most effective medicine.
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Sources: nationwidechildrens.org, healthline.com, medicalnewstoday.com, hellomotherhood.com,
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