This is lazy dangerous parenting. No ifs or buts about it.

Fact: No matter how tough you are doing it as a new parent, there’s never an excuse to do this.

How would you react if you heard that parents were drugging their babies with sleeping pills?

Illegally buying unprescribed pills from overseas, carefully crushing them up in the dead of the night and mixing them with formula to get their babies to sleep.

Heartbroken, desperate mums bleary eyed and weak with lack of sleep rocking their babies as they feed them a carefully warmed bottle laced with melatonin pills.

Would you feel sorry for these struggling mums and dad, obviously at the end of their tether?

Would you be anxiously wanting to reach out and let them know that you understand too, that sometimes we just need to do what it takes to get through?

Or would you be horrified, disgusted at the sheer selfishness of these actions?

Would you be demanding we talk about it, judge it and condemn this selfish behaviour?

Well, I am firmly in the last camp.


News Limited has reported on several baby sleep specialists who say they have been approached by parents who use this technique.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland president Shaun Rudd told News Limited that he was horrified to hear such reports.

The parents are buying melatonin online from the US - a sleep regulator that helps shift workers, and jet lag.

The side effects of the tablets are startling - headaches, prolonged grogginess, hormone fluctuations, vivid dreams and nightmares.

Brisbane sleep consultant Susan Connolly said she had many patients who sought out the treatment for their babies.

“Parents are literally drugging their children to get some sleep. They become desperate and are looking for help anywhere they can get it and they often feel that it is not something their GPs can help with.”

An article in The Wall Street Journal quoted one mother who said "she lines up her six healthy children nightly to give them their melatonin pill."

Another father admitted he knew what he was doing was wrong but it was an easy way out.

“OK, yes, as parents my wife and I should do a better job starting the bedtime routine earlier, turning off the TV earlier, limiting sweets, etc., etc. Well, for whatever reason, this is not our strong suit. This 1 mg light dosage of melatonin is very helpful winding our kids down and getting them ready for bed."


Doctors in the US say that the supplement should only be used for the most serious sleep and neurological disorders.

"I've never seen such widespread abuse of any drug or therapy in all my years of practice," said Stuart Ditchek, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.

In Australia, the problem is growing. Here melatonin is only available for adults on prescription and according to the AMA not recommended for children at all.

I have three children and my oldest who is now seven has still never slept through the night.

All three of them have chronic sleep problems. I’ve felt the desperation these mums have.

I have cried and pounded my fists against the wall and walked the halls in an existence which feels almost ghost like.

I have seen specialists and sleep experts and baby whisperers. I have read journal articles and opinion pieces and sleep training books. And nothing works.

I’ve done what I need to get through the night. I’ve let them sleep in my bed. I’ve walked prams around the streets. I’ve given them bottle after bottle of breastmilk, formula, water, warmed milk.

They’ve been on medication for asthma and reflux and allergies.

I’ve tried cry-it-out and attachment parenting and leave-them-all-night-screaming.

I have now made my peace with the fact they don’t sleep well. I have given up trying to solve it. Instead I manage it.

But what I would never ever do is drug my children. There is no excuse for that.

It’s lazy dangerous parenting. If you are struggling seek help from a pediatrician, your baby health clinic or a mental health group. That’s where the real assistance is.

Not in an illegal bottle of pills bought online.

What do you think of parents drugging their children for a good night's sleep?

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