Can TikTok’s Tart Cherry Juice Actually Solve Your Toddler’s Sleep Issues?

Parents are singing this sour juice’s praises all over social media, but here’s what experts think of the latest miracle cure for your toddler’s sleep problems

For so many parents, bedtime is nothing short of a circus, leaving them as exhausted as their sleep-resistant children. And when kids struggle to get their nightly shut-eye, we moms and dads start Googling. Melatonin! Magnesium! Is it the nap schedule? Do we need to start meditating before bed? Is there some kind of voodoo doll I can use to get this kid to sleep?! When all else fails, sleep-deprived parents turn to social media for out-of-the-box suggestions—or, in this case, out of the bottle. TikTok’s latest magic bullet? Tart cherry juice for toddlers.

I know what you’re thinking. Juice? Yes, juice. Before bed? Uh-huh. Some parents swear that if you want your toddler to go to sleep more quickly and rest more soundly, all you need is some watered-down tart cherry juice, and they’re even turning it into bedtime popsicles, gummies, smoothies, and more. But is this promised sleep remedy actually effective and safe for little kids? We got all the juicy details with help from Pegah Jalali, a registered dietitian in New York City, and Dr. Candice Jones, a board-certified pediatrician in Orlando, FL.

What is tart cherry juice?

Tart cherry juice is, as you probably guessed, a tart-tasing juice made from cherries—specifically, Montmorency cherries, which are native to France and taste far more sour than those sweet Bing cherries you’re used to. According to the Cleveland Clinic, tart Montmorency cherries contain melatonin, a naturally occurring sleep hormone that helps regulate our sleep cycles (and a supplement you might have heard your mom friends talking about). They also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps our bodies make melatonin.

A no-sugar-added bottle of this biting liquid can cost upwards of $6 for 32 ounces, with a serving size usually listed as one cup.

Can tart cherry juice help toddlers sleep?

The #tartcherryjuice hashtag has more than 60 million views on TikTok, and we’d guess plenty of those are from exhausted parents. But despite the many claims from TikTok moms and dads that their toddlers have never slept better, Jalali stresses that there isn’t any current scientific data studying the effect of tart cherry juice on sleep in children. Gulp. This means that medical professionals shouldn’t officially promote tart cherry juice as an appropriate, effective treatment for littles who struggle to go to sleep.

Related: How to Transition from Crib to Bed without Losing (Too Much) Sleep 

Is tart cherry juice safe for toddlers, babies, and older kids?

The fact is, we just don’t know right now. The most current study on sleep and tart cherry juice is from 2012, when researchers had 20 adults spend a week drinking an ounce of the juice before bed each night. In the end, this group slept better than the placebo group, and tests found more melatonin in their urine.

Another study from 2010 looked at tart cherry juice’s effects on a small group of elderly adults who struggled with insomnia. In this population, the researchers found that tart cherry juice did “modestly improve sleep,” but they reported that their “findings may not generalize to other populations.”

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