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Mom is giving her toddler melatonin; is this safe?

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Over the last couple of months, a close single-mom friend of mine has very nonchalantly mentioned that she'll give her toddler a melatonin supplement before bedtime a few times a month so the toddler won't wake up in the night while my friend is out partying.

In my opinion, using any sort of substance, natural or otherwise, to get your child to sleep simply because you want to go out is horribly selfish and irresponsible on so many levels.

I feel like the adult thing to do would be to talk to my friend about it, but she is having a hard enough time as a single mom and is pretty sensitive.

How do I go about telling her how much this is bothering me without offending her?

I'm at the point I don't want to pick up the phone when she calls.

-- Appalled & Concerned

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Dear Appalled: Regarding the use of melatonin with young children, I shared your question with Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Navsaria responds: "Melatonin plays a role in sleep and is produced by the body; there are no clear guidelines for supplemental use in children, but it's generally recognized as safe at low doses. Occasional use as a part of treating consistent sleep problems is likely fine, preferably as advised by a health care professional.

"Melatonin is not a sedative, so we always emphasize that surroundings amenable to sleep are key when taking supplemental melatonin.

"I certainly wouldn't count on melatonin to keep the child asleep -- nor would I want anyone to use it if the child becomes ill and needs attention.

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