Melatonin for Kids — Yes or No?

drug_babyWe thought ADHD stimulant medications were the most overused drugs for children. Turns out it may be the exact opposite, and it’s the parents who are responsible. Pediatrician Stuart Ditchek writes this blog post about what he’s seeing in his community, and it’s pretty shocking.

Have you tried melatonin to help your own kiddos get to sleep?

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.

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2 responses to “Melatonin for Kids — Yes or No?”

  1. Hazel M. Wheeler

    This article was very thought-provoking and provided a lot of insight as to the risks involved with routine nighttime melatonin use for children. As a mom who used melatonin for her child for a very short while, I do think it is worth reading. Our six year old son had some tough nights and so we probably ended up giving him a half-tablet every once in a while for a few months. We stopped shortly after I started using it; it gave me cramps almost regularly and then a post-menopausal friend stated she stopped using it because it had brought her period back. Our own experiences– that this was indeed a powerful hormone–informed our decision to stop using it. We decided that if Kiddo still asked for it, we’d use a placebo (chewable vitamin C) which he asked for twice and hasn’t requested since.

    All of that said, one concern I have with this article is the inference of lazy parenting. The author describes a situation where families are ‘lining their kids up’ to receive nightly melatonin.If the author’s goal was to persuade parents to stop using it, I think the tone could have been a bit softer and more instructive. Even after choosing NOT to continue giving my son melatonin, reading that article was like being hit in the head with facts (some not really accessible enough for some of his target audience, in my opinion) and then being made to feel guilty for my mistake. For other parents, who have been doing this for years with very good intentions, their guilt and shame that they may have been doing something damaging to their kids may make them change their minds– or may make them even more defensive in their opinion on melatonin use for kids.

    It was an interesting article, and thanks for providing a link. I just wish the author had chosen to address his reading audience with a softer approach and included healthy solutions for parents (bedtime routines, predictability, warm milk, chamomile tea, lack of media time before bed, etc.) as well. Most readers would prefer to be taken gently under a doctor’s wing and would respond more positively to an article with a tone of understanding and empathy for that tired, frustrated parent who is really trying what they think is best instead of being given a lot of facts and afforded very little patience. We all make mistakes as parents… it would have been a better article if the reader could leave feeling that the doctor was on their side and not angry at them.

  2. Rachel Zahn

    Important points, Hazel. The author’s harsh approach may well result in backlash — the opposite of what was intended. Gentle leadership is the most effective kind. We appreciate your careful read!

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