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For parents of children who struggle with sleep, finding natural solutions to promote better rest is a top priority. Many parents turn to sleep supplements, such as melatonin, to help their children sleep better. Rather than long term supplementation, I recommend focusing on lifestyle modifications, soothing botanicals, and whole food sources of melatonin to help regulate sleep patterns.

In this article, I will explain the role of melatonin in the body, list some food sources of melatonin, and provide two great bedtime snack recipes.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a vital role in establishing healthy sleep patterns (1). It is naturally produced by the brain’s pineal gland, helping to regulate the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced in the body, and it can be consumed from food sources – like in my Tart Cherry Bedtime Mocktail

A boy holds his teddy bear while sleeping.Understanding Melatonin for Children

Melatonin is considered to be safe when taken appropriately. Studies on the safety of long term use in kids are underway; so far, long term melatonin usage seems to have no effect on height, weight, BMI, pubertal development, withdrawal, or tolerance (2). This reflects what I’ve seen in my own clinical practice; however, further research is needed. 

Taking melatonin incorrectly can cause serious harm to little ones; therefore, it is important to double check dosage, store it out of reach of children, and speak with a healthcare provider for guidance as needed. These precautions are necessary due to the sharp rise in accidental ingestion of melatonin by kids in the last several years (3). 

Read more: Reasons I Prescribe Melatonin In My Practice – Dr. Green Mom 

Natural Sources of Melatonin

Whole food sources are a great way to consume nutrients because all of the cofactors are still present. Many food sources of melatonin have other nutrients that enhance relaxation, encourage melatonin production in the body, and promote sound sleep. For example, in addition to melatonin, most of the nuts and seeds listed below contain tryptophan (an amino acid; precursor of melatonin and serotonin), magnesium (a relaxing mineral), fiber (a blood sugar stabilizer), and healthy fat (4). 

Highest food sources:

  • Pistachios: up to 233,000 nanograms per gram (4)
  • Walnuts: up to 2.5 nanograms per gram (4)
  • Pumpkin seeds: up to 1.8 nanograms per gram (5)
  • Kiwi: 24 nanograms per gram (6)
  • Tart cherries: up to 13 nanograms per gram (4)
  • Goji berries: up to 1600.48 nanograms per gram (7)
  • Oats: up to 90 nanograms per gram (4)

You’ll notice that the amounts of melatonin found in food are much lower than the amount of melatonin found in supplements (1 mg for kids and 3 mg for adults), but the added cofactors enhance the overall body levels of melatonin through improved synthesis and release.

Overall, food sources tend to have a subtle effect on sleepiness, and their efficacy builds when they are consistently consumed over a period of weeks. The upside is that they can be eaten at any time of the day or night and you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. Below, I share my two favorite melatonin-rich snack recipes.  

My Favorite Bedtime Snack Recipes

A bowl of melatonin rich seeds, nuts, and berries rests on a table.

Dr. Green Mom’s Sleepy-Time Trail Mix

This balanced trail mix featuring melatonin-rich foods is a good bedtime snack.


  • ⅓ cup pistachios
  • ⅓ cup walnuts
  • ⅓ cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup dried kiwi chunks
  • ⅓ cup dried tart cherries
  • ⅓ cup dried Goji berries


  1. Combine all these ingredients into an airtight container and munch on as desired!

A glass bowl of granola made with melatonin rich nuts, berries, seeds, and oats.

Dr. Green Mom’s Sleepy-Time Granola Recipe

This slightly sweet granola is a healthy before bed treat. Serve a small portion of this melatonin-rich granola to your child to promote a restful night’s sleep.


  • 2 cups organic sprouted oats
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried Goji berries
  • 1/4 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried banana chunks
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (no honey under age 1), maple syrup, or agave


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Blitz the pistachios and pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor until they are slightly broken up.
  3. In a small saucepan, gently heat the coconut oil with honey (or other natural sweetener), stirring until the mixture is fully combined and becomes a liquid.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the sprouted oats, cinnamon, blitzed nuts, and seeds. Pour the warm coconut oil and honey mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to ensure even coating.
  5. Spread the granola mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the granola while baking as it can burn quickly! Stir occasionally during baking to ensure even toasting.
  6. Remove the granola from the oven once it turns golden brown and becomes fragrant. Let it cool completely on the baking sheet. 
  7. Break granola into chunks and transfer to an airtight container.
  8. Add dried tart cherries, Goji berries, and banana chunks to the container. Gently shake to mix all the ingredients.
  9. Store the Sleepy-Time Granola in a cool, dry area for up to two weeks. 

I like to serve this to my family with raw milk, which contains a small amount of melatonin just as human milk does (8). This recipe also goes great with non-dairy milks and yogurt.


Sound sleep is important for the entire family! By incorporating food sources of melatonin into your child’s diet, you can support their sleep patterns in a wholesome way while fighting nighttime hunger and blood sugar dips. Rather than long term supplementation, I recommend focusing on lifestyle modifications, soothing botanicals, and whole food sources of melatonin to help regulate sleep patterns.

For more information about how to support healthy sleep habits, read: Sleep Essentials For Kids – Dr. Green Mom.


  1. Zisapel N. (2018). New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation. British journal of pharmacology, 175(16), 3190–3199.
  2. Zisapel N. (2022). Assessing the potential for drug interactions and long term safety of melatonin for the treatment of insomnia in children with autism spectrum disorder. Expert review of clinical pharmacology, 15(2), 175–185.
  3. Sharp Rise in Melatonin Overdose in Children. (2022). The American journal of nursing, 122(9), 17.
  4. Verde, A., Míguez, J. M., Leao-Martins, J. M., Gago-Martínez, A., & Gallardo, M. (2022). Melatonin content in walnuts and other commercial nuts. influence of cultivar, ripening and processing (roasting). Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 105, 104180. 
  5. Meng, X., Li, Y., Li, S., Zhou, Y., Gan, R. Y., Xu, D. P., & Li, H. B. (2017). Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin. Nutrients, 9(4), 367.
  6. Doherty, R., Madigan, S., Nevill, A., Warrington, G., & Ellis, J. G. (2023). The Impact of Kiwifruit Consumption on the Sleep and Recovery of Elite Athletes. Nutrients, 15(10), 2274. MDPI AG. Retrieved from
  7. UĞUR, Y. (2021). Investigation of melatonin content and antioxidant capacity in grape berries. İnönü Üniversitesi Sağlık Hizmetleri Meslek Yüksek Okulu Dergisi, 9(3), 820–830.
  8. Gombert, M., & Codoñer-Franch, P. (2021). Melatonin in Early Nutrition: Long-Term Effects on Cardiovascular System. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(13), 6809.
Dr. Green Mom

Dr. Mayer is a naturopathic medical doctor and an expert in nutrition and wellness as it relates to pediatrics and families. Her passion for prevention of disease as cure fueled her desire to immerse herself into specializing in adult onset chronic conditions, as well as childhood chronic illness.

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