Melatonin use in infants and toddlers

The aim of this study was to examine various aspects of melatonin use by caregivers of infants and toddlers in the US.
The feasibility of remote measurement of infant sleep and motor development Reading Melatonin use in infants and toddlers 4 minutes

 Judith Owens, Natalie Barnett, Maristella Lucchini, Sarah Berger

Sleep Medicine



Melatonin use in the pediatric population is on the rise in the United States, where it is available as an over-the-counter and online supplement. There are no data regarding the safety and efficacy of melatonin in children less than 2 years old. The aim of this study was to examine various aspects of melatonin use by caregivers of infants and toddlers in the US.


Caregiver users of the Nanit baby monitoring system with a child aged 0-36 months were invited to complete an online survey regarding melatonin use, sources of information/recommendations about melatonin, formulations used and reasons for administering melatonin to their child. Participants also completed the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire-Revised (BISQ-R).


A total of 3063 caregivers (1.93%) responded to the survey, of whom 1.7% had ever used melatonin for their child. About half of those caregivers had received a recommendation for melatonin from a source other than a healthcare professional. Caregiver perception of ‘sleep as a problem’ as assessed by the BISQ-R was not significantly different between those who had or had not used melatonin for their child, and reasons for use included non-supported indications such as sleeping later or promoting “more restful and better sleep”.


The results of this study support mounting concerns regarding the widespread use of melatonin in the US pediatric population, especially given the lack of regulatory oversight and the documented inaccuracy of label claims versus actual melatonin content.

About the Researchers

The researchers included Judith Owens, Natalie Barnett, Maristella Lucchini, and Sarah Berger.

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  • Dr. Natalie Barnett serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.
  • Dr. Maristella Lucchini serves as Senior Clinical Researcher at Nanit. In her role, Maristella works to secure grant funding in collaboration with Nanit’s university research partners and supports the development of the company’s  research collaborations around the world. Previously, Maristella served as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Division of Developmental Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center where she led projects across several cohorts focusing on sleep health for pregnant and postpartum women and their children. Maristella’s research focused on underserved communities and sleep health disparities in the perinatal period. During her years as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in the Department of Psychiatry, Maristella was selected to participate in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Young Investigator Research Forum. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Milano. 
  • Dr. Sarah Berger is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She received her PhD from New York University. Dr. Berger was an American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Fulbright Research Scholar. Dr. Berger studies the interaction between cognitive and motor development in infancy, particularly response inhibition and its implications for the allocation of attention in very young children. A line of National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded work, in collaboration with Dr. Anat Scher, has been the first to study the impact of sleep on motor problem solving in infancy.

    This paper was published in Sleep Medicine. Access the full article here.

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