All new parents go through that wonderful, terrible sense of sleep deprivation that comes from taking care of a small infant with very large needs. During the first four months of their lives, babies need to be fed every two to four hours, to say nothing of other things such as soiled diapers and temperature issues that can affect their sleep. This doesn’t leave much time for mom and dad to get any shut eye. Even if you take turns with the baby, getting up two to three times each during the night (and having your sleep interrupted briefly 2-3 more times when your partner gets up with the baby) can leave you exhausted. If you’re like just about every other parent since the dawn of time, you’ve no doubt asked, “What in the world can I do to get this kid to sleep?”

Take a deep breath. What you’re feeling is normal. You’re going to be tired a lot during the first several months of your baby’s life. It’s going to take a while, and a lot of trial and error to figure out what will help your baby to relax and fall back asleep. Don’t be afraid to try anything reasonable to help baby get to sleep, as long as you know that it’s safe for your baby. One of the questions many parents ask is, “Are there any safe medications that help babies sleep?”

The answer depends on several things. First, you should never give your baby medicine solely for the purpose of putting her to sleep unless directed to do so by a doctor. There are no sleep medications approved for babies. That being said, however, there are times when things like a fever, or teething, or other medical conditions may be causing your baby to have a difficult time falling asleep. During such times, it is completely appropriate to use medications designed to address those problems. If your baby has a fever, you can give her acetaminophen. Consult a doctor and the recommended dosages for how much to give her. If she is teething, you can feel free to give her any of a number of over the counter teething creams and gels. As with any medication, though, it’s a good idea to consult your baby’s doctor first before administering medication.

One over the counter medicine that is considered safe, though you should still consult with your baby’s doctor before giving it to him, is Melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the body chemistry that relates specifically to sleep cycles. Your baby’s doctor should be able to help you decide if Melatonin is right for your baby and, if so, how much, how often, and when.