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Melatonin and Breastfeeding: the surprising new breastfeeding benefit that may help your baby (and you) get some sleep.

Melatonin and Breastfeeding: the surprising new breastfeeding benefit that may help your baby (and you) get some sleep.

Melatonin for Infants

Fussy baby? Can’t sleep? Discover one of the newest-found breast milk benefits that can help you and your baby get a good night’s rest.

You may be surprised to know that melatonin, the sleep hormone, and circadian rhythms don't start to develop in infants until around 3 months of age. Some experts believe that this may be correlated to babies with colic as melatonin helps relax intestinal smooth muscles.

Colic is when a baby expresses significant distress through intense crying for at least 3 hours for 3 days over a 3 week period which you may have heard of as the rule of 3’s. The exact cause is unknown but the root word colicus means "pertaining to colic” from the Greek word kolikos translating to the lower intestine. Many experts believe that since your baby’s digestive system is still developing, just as the sleep rhythm hasn’t fully kicked in yet, that it may play a role.1

But Mother Nature found a way to help your little one from day one - breastmilk. Fascinating new research suggests that breast milk may help in establishing a sleep cycle while your newborn’s circadian rhythm develops.

Why? Breast milk contains a variety of antibodies, nutrients, enzymes, and even hormones.2

The composition of breast milk also drastically changes throughout the day. For example, the stress hormone cortisol, which helps us get going in the morning, was found in breast milk studies to be three times higher in morning breast milk compared to milk from later on in the day. They also found that levels of melatonin, which aid in digestion and sleep, were barely present in morning milk but increased in the evening, peaking around midnight.3

At night, breast milk also has higher contents of particular DNA building blocks which can also help support sleep. In contrast, activity-promoting amino acids are more prevalent in daytime breast milk than in evening milk, helping your baby engage more during waking hours.3

The nutrition of breast milk also fluctuates throughout the day. For example, minerals such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium that help your baby grow stronger hit their peak in the morning, and iron is highest in midday milk, whereas vitamin E hits its highest levels in the evening.3

Since the composition of your milk varies throughout the day based on the cyclical needs of your baby, for pumping moms, try to note the time of day you pumped, and bottle feed the expressed milk shortly after pumping or around the same time the following day.4 

All of this helps reaffirm just how critical a mother’s nutrition can be for a baby and how clever your body is in meeting your little one's needs. Your body takes the best nutrients your body has and provides them to your baby so it’s important to make sure you’re also taking care of your needs to make sure there are enough vitamins, minerals, and hormones for your own body to also function and thrive. If you are deficient in certain nutrients or hormones, such as melatonin, supplementation may help. For melatonin, we recommend Herbatonin® 0.3 mg, our low-dose plant based melatonin safe for extended periods of use.

Melatonin and Pregnancy

Melatonin also played a role in your pregnancy - even before the conception of your baby. Quality sleep can impact your fertility, your health during pregnancy, and even delivering a healthy baby.

In a comprehensive review of the available literature, obstetric researchers found that because of the increased oxygen demands on the body during pregnancy there is more free radical damage. Due to melatonin’s natural antioxidant properties, when used wisely, this supplement may be beneficial for both complicated and normal pregnancies, counter to the traditional stance of avoiding it during pregnancy. In fact, the use of melatonin during pregnancy, which has been found safe in both mother and fetus according to some research, could prove to help limit complications during the critical periods prior to and shortly after delivery.5 As always, speak with your healthcare provider if supplementation may be beneficial for you.

A recent study suggested that preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by the symptoms of high blood pressure, swelling of feet and hands, and protein in urine that is potentially dangerous for both the expectant mother and baby) has a seasonal variation since it was observed that reduced melatonin levels were associated with the development of preeclampsia. Therefore, it has been suggested that melatonin may be helpful in having a successful pregnancy.6

Pregnancy is a critical time for your baby’s risk for hypertension later in life. Melatonin, as an antioxidant therapy, can help prevent hypertension in children whose parents have a family history of hypertension.7 It is hypothesized that oxidative stress has an adverse effect on fertility. Since melatonin is a strong scavenger of oxidative factors it could also improve fertility.8,9

A review of recent research also suggests that melatonin improves sperm quality and oocyte quality, resulting in increased fertilization, showing a potential benefit for both partners to take melatonin even prior to conception. Melatonin studies have also shown promise for advanced age infertility and improving IVF outcomes.

Melatonin for Kids

Children typically produce 2-3x the amount of melatonin that adults do, unless they have an underlying medical condition. So instead of recommending melatonin for infants and children we generally recommend creating an environment that fosters your child’s natural process of their own melatonin production. The first step in doing this may not come as a surprise as it’s something you know would be good for you as well... no screens for at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Since melatonin is heavily regulated and produced with light exposure and withdrawal, it’s important to also make sure there is no night light in their room or even afternoon sunlight light during nap time.

Things that can help wind their brains down like reading before bed and establishing a nighttime routine help provide a sense of order and expectation so your child feels safe and knows that bedtime is around the corner.

On the diet side, minimal sugar intake can help. Decreasing sugary foods at least 4 hours before bed helps in avoiding insulin and energy spikes too late in the day. Sometimes a relaxing bath before bed can also help.

Melatonin for Mom and Dad

When you become a parent getting enough sleep can be a challenge, but sleep is a critical part of your overall health. The better you feel when you wake up, the more you can care for your children throughout the day.

The bedtime routines you set for your children can also be helpful in establishing a pattern to help your brain wind down at the end of the day. Try to limit screen use a couple of hours before you call it a night by instead reading a book before bed or if there’s time, take a relaxing bath. Whatever you’re able to do to set a routine so your brain can anticipate that it’s time to relax.

Sometimes after travel or working a night shift, you may need a little help reestablishing your sleeping rhythm. If that’s the case, we recommend Herbatonin® 3mg. Herbatonin is the world’s first plant-based melatonin. It is a 100% natural plant extract from a particular variety of rice.

When it comes to supplementation of melatonin - dosage is everything. You may have taken other natural sleeping pills that are 5-10mg of melatonin, but did you know that the adult brain typically only produces 0.3mg of melatonin? By taking over 16 times more than what your brain normally makes, you can easily overdose, leaving you feeling groggy the next day or creating a dependency. By taking 3mg for short term use of around 3-7 days, you can safely realign your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.

For more long term sleep support, we recommend Herbatonin 0.3mg - which mirrors the amount your brain naturally produces, making it safe for extended use on a nightly basis.

If you have any questions about adding Herbatonin 0.3mg into your nighttime routine please feel free to contact our medical team at

Herbatonin 0.3mg

Herbatonin 0.3mg is the only plant-based melatonin in the world. It is a 100% natural plant extract from a particular variety of rice with a standardized level of 0.3mg of melatonin per capsule, safe for extended use on a nightly basis.

✓ The world's first plant-based melatonin: All other melatonin is animal or synthetic*
✓ Supports sleep cycles, restful sleep, and improved mental health*
✓ Low Dose: 0.3mg is the same amount of melatonin naturally produced by the brain, making it a non-habit forming, long-term use sleep aid*
✓ Slow Release: Slow sustained release through natural breakdown of the plant cell structure*
✓ Natural & Pure: Contains no magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, fillers, flavors or excipients


  1. Weissbluth, L., & Weissbluth, M. (1992). Infant colic: the effect of serotonin and melatonin circadian rhythms on the intestinal smooth muscle. Medical hypotheses, 39(2), 164–167.
  2. Mazzocchi, A., Giannì, M. L., Morniroli, D., Leone, L., Roggero, P., Agostoni, C., De Cosmi, V., & Mosca, F. (2019). Hormones in Breast Milk and Effect on Infants' Growth: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(8), 1845.
  3. Hana-Holbrook, J. & Saxbe, D. Science Alert. Breast Milk's Unique Composition May Actually Help Babies Tell Day From Night. (Aug 12, 2019)
  4. Science Daily. Breast Milk Should Be Drunk At The Same Time Of Day That It Is Expressed (Oct 2, 2009) 
  5. Aversa S, Pellegrino S, Barberi I, Reiter R, Gitto E. Potential utility of melatonin as an antioxidant during pregnancy and in the perinatal period. The Journal of MaternalFetal & Neonatal Medicine.
  6. Marseglia L, D’Angelo G, Manti S, Reiter R, Gitto E. Potential Utility of Melatonin in Preeclampsia, Intrauterine Fetal Growth Retardation, and Perinatal Asphyxia. Reproductive Sciences. 2015;23(8):970-977.
  7. Zeng K, Gao Y, Wan J et al. The reduction in circulating levels of melatonin may be associated with the development of preeclampsia. J Hum Hypertens. 2016;30(11):666- 671. doi:10.1038/jhh.2016.37 
  8. Tain Y, Lee C, Chan J, Hsu C. Maternal melatonin or N-acetylcysteine therapy regulates hydrogen sulfide-generating pathway and renal transcriptome to prevent prenatal NG-Nitro-L-arginine-methyl ester (L-NAME)-induced fetal programming of hypertension in adult male offspring. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016;215(5):636.e1-636.e72. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2016.07.036
  9. Soleimani Rad S, Abbasalizadeh S, Ghorbani Haghjo A, Sadagheyani M, Montaseri A, Soleimani Rad J. Serum Levels of Melatonin and Oxidative Stress Markers and Correlation between Them in Infertile Men. J Caring Sci. 2013;2(4):287-94. doi:10.5681/jcs.2013.034
  10. Krol, K. M., Grossmann, T. Psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s00103-018-2769-0
  11. Who Technical staff. Continued breastfeeding for healthy growth and development of children., 2017
  12. Ra, J. S., Kim, S. O. Beneficial Effects of Breastfeeding on the Prevention Of Metabolic Syndrome Among Postmenopausal Women. Asian Nursing Research, 2020 DOI:

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