It can be very dangerous to give children drugs not specifically prescribed for them:
- Drugs can have bad side effects.
- Children on medication can be grumpy, irritable and hard to wake up in the morning.
- Medication might make children dizzy, have dry mouths or feel sick.
People might advise you to give your child potions or tonics to help with settling and sleep. Some might even suggest a drop of brandy in the bedtime bottle. This is unlikely to work, because food and drink rarely have anything to do with a child’s sleeping problems. Potions, tonics and alcohol can also be dangerous.
In rare circumstances where all else has failed, your doctor might prescribe medication for a short period to help your child get into a sleep pattern.
Melatonin is one such medication. It might be helpful for older children with chronic insomnia. Like any medication, melatonin should not be given to a child without medical advice and supervision. An incorrect dosage could be dangerous.
Medication will help in the longer term only if it is accompanied by a strategy to help your child learn new sleep behaviour. You could start by reading our article on promoting positive bedtime routines