This Popular Sleep Aid May Be Harmful to Kids

There’s no quick fix that gets kids to sleep sooner, better, deeper. But melatonin comes pretty close.While medical experts don’t have much bad to say to adults about using melatonin, which isn’t a pharmaceutical rather a health supplement, some are concerned when it comes to regular use in children.

A recent New York Times Well blog post reported that while a lot of parents have given melatonin for their kids because it works—doctors don’t actually know whether it’s doing harm in the long run. Children’s brains are still growing and developing, and melatonin is a synthetic form of a hormone the pineal gland produces, and which signals to the brain it’s time for sleep.

“I think we just don’t know what the potential long-term effects are, particularly when you’re talking about young children,” said Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Parents really need to understand that there are potential risks.”

Research isn’t conclusive but some suggests that it could have effects not just on the brain but on other systems developing in children: reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic.

Melatonin has known possible side effects for adults, including “headaches, dizziness and daytime grogginess,” the Times reports. That last one is what makes it a sleep aid and also dangerous for drivers who might use it. The hormone-like substance, which is also found in foods like barley and walnuts, can also interfere with medications for blood pressure and diabetes.

When researchers looked into consistency across melatonin products, they found that 71 percent of their samples were at least 10 percent off from the written dose.

Doctors who treat sleep disorders in children have long known parents turn frequently turn to melatonin to help their kids with sleep issues, often picking up the pills at a health food store and not telling their own doctors—a mistake.

“I rarely see a family come in with a child with insomnia who hasn’t tried melatonin,” Owns said. “I would say at least 75 percent of the time when they come in to see us” at the sleep clinic, “they’re either on melatonin or they’ve tried it in the past.”

For those who give it to their children, Owens recommends letting their child’s doctor know. She also said the pills should be picked up from a reputable source. Because they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Adminstration, there’s no way of know how much of the useful ingredient is in each pill. Buy “pharmaceutical grade,” which tend to have “more precise dosing levels.”

When researchers looked into consistency across melatonin products, they found that 71 percent of their samples were at least 10 percent off from the written dose. In fact—and this is where parents, particularly, should be cautious—some contained nearly 5 times the dosage written on the label.

So while there’s still no silver bullet for kids and sleep—except for lots of exercise, predictable nighttime routines and early (yes, early!) bedtimes—the melatonin temptation should be met with caution and some medical support.

Contributions on this post via Mom.me

Sleep-Deprived Parents Are Paying Over $300 for This Doll

lulla

Photo from Facebook

Parents all over the world are clamoring for the Lulla doll developed by researchers in Iceland to help newborns sleep better. Hypoallergenic and machine-washable, this doll pretty much has it all. With the exception of taste, the Lulla Doll utilizes a baby’s four other senses to help comfort and drift off to sleep, something new parents are desperate for.

By pressing on the chest, the doll can mimic a mother’s breathing and heartbeat. The face was designed to be gender and race neutral and apparently is supposed to be more visually appealing for a baby rather than a stuffed animal. It absorbs scent easily, so parents can hold it against their skin and then pass on the doll to their baby, who can then snuggle up to it, and feel as if they were actually sleeping next to Mom or Dad.

What an amazing product, right? There’s just one catch: The doll retails for around $70. Due to the insane popularity however, the manufacturer cannot keep up with demand and parents are heading to third-party sites like Eba y and paying more than $300.

Babies are little jerks when it comes to sleep. And a lack of sleep makes for cranky babies and exhausted parents.

For the parents with gobs of money, sure, by all means pre-order the Lulla Doll. Bid to your heart’s content. But for the rest of us, spending this much on a doll instead of diapers and food is just impractical. I get it; babies are little jerks when it comes to sleep. And a lack of sleep makes for cranky babies and exhausted parents. But there are other ways to soothe a baby and mimic the closeness of a parent for a fraction of the cost.

A white noise machine can be purchased for around $20. I used it and It simulated the noises of babies heard in the womb and there’s even a mode that mimics a heartbeat.

You can hold a little security blanket against your skin for a while and then place it next to your baby. It’s soft and comforting and it may not have a human face but let’s be honest, does a baby really pay attention to that?

And whatever happened to a little old-fashioned rocking? I get it—we can’t be there all night to sit up in a rocker, but some of my most calming moments in those early days occurred while rhythmically swaying back and forth in the darkness, holding my sleepy baby in my arms, by the way I still using mine for short periods of time but still a valuable item for me.

Whether you co-sleep with your baby or sleep train on a schedule, eventually your child will sleep, with or without said creepy doll. Contrary to what this doll claims to do, there is no magical cure to get a baby to sleep. But desperate parents will try anything and I guess if it doesn’t work, you could always sell it on Ebay, right? Some information from by Mom.me

Follow my blog for more interesting and informative articles about our children on this parenting stage.

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