Melatonin for a 3 Year Old ??

Updated on February 14, 2011
S.J. asks from Colchester, CT
16 answers

My 3 year old son has been having problems falling asleep. We have a regular nighttime routine of bath and books. He goes to bed at 7pm, but doesn't fall asleep until 1 or 2 hours after. I have tried keeping the room dark, white noise music, weighted blankets, almost everything I can think of... He has a diagnosis of severe ADHD and PDD-NOS (autism). He also has sensory processing disorder. We have been told that he has very little internal regulation, which I presume is keeping him from sleeping. He goes into his room at night yawning and clearly tired, but as the time in his room progresses, he gets more and more wound up. He ends of jumping around his room, lining up his toys, rearranging his room, going batty about any fly he sees flying around. Our psychologist recommended that we give him 1mg of melatonin at night to help him sleep. Our pediatrician said "do whatever his pysch says". but I am worried about giving him this as he is so young. Has anyone else given their child this supplement? How did it work out for them?

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answers from Denver on

My ADHD 4.5 year old takes it and has been taking it for about a year. Not all the time, but occasionally. She can take up to 3 mg and does just fine with it. She used to go to bed just FINE but the older she gets, the more often she is still bopping around later and and later--even after a full day of exercise and play. I had to give it to her last night and she was up at 6 a.m. as perky as can be!

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answers from Tampa on

it is a GOD SEND. My dad is a Pedi and when we took our daughter (ADHD) at age 4 b/c I wasn't sleeping b/c she wasn't sleeping - he put her on the Melatonin and it was amazing. We slowly got her off it but if she is having a bad night we keep it on hand (also for us as well) :)

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answers from New York on

my son also has autism and Melatonin was a god-send. 1 mg is a VERY small dose and is absolutely appropriate for a 3 year old. You can even go on and up it to up to 3 mgs should it not be enough. There even was a study that proofed that Melatonin is safe and effective for young children with autism. I think I saw it on Dr. Kurt Woeller's blog, maybe about a year ago. Should your son have or develop problems with sleeping through the night, there is also a time release version from Kirkman Labs that helps in these cases.
In addition to Melatonin, there are a lot of supplements out there that can help with calm, focus and attention, also during the day. Start educating yourself, there is a lot of information on the internet and don't believe the ones that say it all bogus. Supplements have helped my son so much. Go to and consider seeing a DAN doctor.

Good luck!

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answers from Las Vegas on

Our son's developmental pediatrician recommended that we give our son melatonin when he was 3 as well. We don't use it as much now that he is older but I definitely don't know what I would have done without it when he was younger. He would be up for hours, this whirlwind of activity, and if he woke his younger sister up with his noise (which he often did), I would have a screaming/crying little girl on my hands also. Not a good situation when all you want to do is wash the dishes and maybe watch some t.v. after a long day.

Yesterday, while I was at Whole Foods Market, I found a oranged flavored time-release melatonin spray that you can spray under the tongue. The one thing about regular melatonin that I don't like is that it gets you to sleep but it doesn't keep you there. So if you have a kid that is a fireball of energy, you give him the melatonin sublingual and he will go to sleep but that fireball of energy will be waking you up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. At least, that's been my experience. I'm thinking the time release formula would be better for our son. Each pump of the spray is 1.5 mg of melatonin so you can adjust the dosage that way.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Kansas City on

We have started using Melatonin for my 7 year old (3mg) and it is stunningly effective. She is quite anxious and would stay up until 11 or 12 in her room worrying and thinking the hours away. Our pedi said it is safe w/out side effects up to 3mg. You will be (happily) shocked if you try it. My only concern is the fact that it is not FDA regulated, so I only buy from reputable companies and reputable stores, but I do give it to my kids. Good luck!

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answers from Sacramento on

Try it! Our son has severe ADHD as well and can't calm his body at night to fall asleep. By then the ADHD medication is long out of his system and he is just like your son at night ... he just can't get his body to slow down. We tried it all, too, with darkening the room, putting on soft music, keeping it silent in the house, you name it.

Our psychiatrist also recommended melatonin when our son was three and it's awesome! We started small, cutting the 3 mg. tablet into quarters. It kicks in within an hour and our son falls asleep great! He's seven now and takes 1/2 tablet and is doing great. He falls asleep great and is well rested in the morning without being groggy. We love melatonin!

ETA: Since melatonin isn't regulated, there can be great differences between brands. So, definitely start off very small with the dosage and work your way up, as needed. Some brands are pretty potent in small dosages.

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answers from Boston on

I have been giving my soon to be 7 year old melatonin for about 6 months now. It has been the best decision I have ever made. I give it to him about a 1/2 hour before his bed time so when I put him to bed he is sleeping within 15 minutes. I only give him 1.5 mg and that is what works for him.

I posted this question just before I started giving it to him and got beat up about it for even thinking about it from the first few responses. If you check out my questions you can see some of the answers I got.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I would ask a pharmacist to research any data they can find on melatonin in pediatric patients. Just because pediatricians may or may not recommend doesn't necessarily make it safe.

I've had sleep problems for years. One doctor recommended melatonin, and others I know fiercely debated it.

Another issue is that because it's Over the Counter, there's really little FDA regulation of the products on the market. So, what you get at one store will be a completely different grade than what you get at another store - even reputable stores.

The only relatively current medical study I could find on the subject is in the following link and may or may not address the ADHD/PDD-NOS + internal regulation issues you have with your son:

Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

My grandson was put on Risperidol at the age of 3 because of ADHD and Anxiety Disorder. He was on another med as well, however the name is not coming to me. It seemed to calm him. He went to bed, yes it took time for him to go to sleep but he wasn't bouncing all over. You could also try what they call SleepyTyme Tea, if you think he will drink it. Its a relaxant from grocery stores, health food stores etc. I don't know if this will work for you but at least you can say you tried it prior to the meds'. If you have to go with the meds' there isn't any long term effect, and your son will be fine. We all worry when it comes to giving our little ones' something that we really aren't aware of ourselves, however his Physician knows whats best for him.
Good luck, they will only give him a small dose I'm sure until he levels out and they find the right dosage for him.



answers from Boston on

Do yourself a favor and take him to a Naturopathic doctor. Google one in your area. It takes the guessing out of it for you. Melatonin might not be the best thing for him for his ADD and they do have natural alternatives. It's worth it.
Good Luck!



answers from Chicago on

my son took the melitonin for a short time. and it worked. i was wondering about your bedtime. is it possible that you could change up his routine at all? does he have a long nap in the afternoon? any nap at all? what time is he up in the morning? 7pm is pretty early for bed. just wondering



answers from Lewiston on

I have used melatonin for both my one and tow year old. It has worked well many times. I don't use it on a regular basis just when there schedules have been off and they need a re-set so to speak. Sometimes they can have more vivid dreams but otherwise drowsiness was the only other side effect I noticed. I have friends that have used it with there children as well with success. Good luck.



answers from Providence on

I did give my son melatonin at that age because he wasn't sleeping well either. He would nap at day care and then not fall asleep until 10:30 at night. The melatonin seemed to work a little, but it always worried me too. He is 7 and has showed no sign of ill effects from that time on melatonin. I researched it back then and it seemed that the dose was important....that if a child received more than 5mg over time he may become depressed. Also, I realize your child has other issues, but if he is still napping, this is a common behavior at three.



answers from Hartford on

Is he over-stimulated in his room? You may want to consider (if you have the space and the courage) removing everything from his room except his bed, dresser and his special lovie item. Give it a month or so and see. I have heard this can really make a difference, though I have not tried it personally.
One supplement I have tried personally with my son is Bach's Rescue Remedy for Kids. It has helped a lot at bed time. You can get it at whole foods in the baby food area or most health food stores can get it.



answers from Tampa on

Neither one of my children were dx with ADHD, but my pediatrician had suggested it. We have used the 1 mg and 3 mg doses with great success for a couple of years. It's not used as frequently here now ... but we did use it often for my 6 year old when she was 3. She has never, ever been a "sleeper" and would often roam the house at 2-3 am and play with her toys while the rest of were sleeping. Hence, my pediatrician's suggestion. Both girls had no residual effects the next day and were easy to rouse. I tried it to see what it felt like it and I didn't feel drugged or overly sleepy. We put it in applesauce when she was little to aid her in ingesting it.


answers from Boston on

A psychologist doesn't have medical training and cannot prescribe so I assume this is an over-the-counter supplement? There is another supplement you can use for nutritional balance that has helped many children with ADD, autism (particularly the higher functioning), and sensory processing issues. As a result it also helps with sleep. Also rages. If you would like to talk, let me know. I'm a nutritional consultant and can help.

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