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
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.
Shop Hiya Bedtime Essentials
- Non-habit forming, natural kids sleep aid
- Unique restorative essentials to support calm, focus, brain health, and a good night’s sleep
- Non-GMO, gluten free
- No added sugar, but tastes great!
- 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 ChildrenMelatonin 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)
Best Melatonin Free Sleep Aids For Kids
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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!”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “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 KidsThere 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:
MagnesiumAnother 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 SleepEssential 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 SleepThere 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 TimeIf 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 RoutineKids 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 EnvironmentSet 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 SleepThere 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 KidsAdding 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!