Sedating Your Kids on the Road

Written by dad - 6 Comments

I recently ran across an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal… The issue at hand was whether or not it’s okay to sedate your kids when travelling. Given that Children’s Benadryl is: (1) widely regarded as safe for kids, and (2) has a tendency to make them drowsy, giving your baby or toddler a dose can go a long way toward calming a frightened or stressed baby or toddler.

As it turns out, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t have an official position on the matter, and individual pediatricians are all over the board. According to Richard Gorman, past chairman of the AAP’s National Committee on Drugs:

If you asked 100 pediatricians, you’d get 20 strongly in favor, 60 who didn’t think about it much, and 20 strongly opposed. Good doctors can disagree about this, just as thoughtful parents can disagree.

While Benadryl is considered to be “very safe” when used as directed, its maker (Pfizer) doesn’t “promote any off-label use,” such as using it as a sedative. Another thing to keep in mind is that antihistamines can have the opposite effect in about 10% of kids, making them agitated and hyper-alert.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Is it okay to give your young’un something like Benadryl to ‘take the edge off’ when travelling? A recent survey over at BabyCenter.com revealed that 33% of parents would never consider it, 24% said they’ve never needed to, 18% said that they had done it and would do so again, and 20% said that they had considered doing it.

I’m going to have to ‘fess up here and say that we did it. That’s right, we gave our youngest son a dose of Benadryl on a recent car trip. As it turns out, he was totally inconsolable, and no amount of stopping, stretching, walking, playing, etc. could settle him down. On the way out of town, we sucked it up and just dealt with it. Not an easy thing to do when you need to go about 300 miles, and we felt horrible making him go through it.

On the way back home, it was the same story. This time, however, we stopped at a drug store and picked up some Benadryl. Guess what? It worked like a charm. He settled down almost immediately, and ended up napping comfortably for much of the rest of the trip. While we felt a little uneasy about doing it, we’re glad that we did, and we’d do it again in a similar situation.

[Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reprinted from the Wall Street Journal]

Published on May 3rd, 2006 - 6 Comments
Filed under: Health,Travel
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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. When my father was sick (only months to live) and we were making a 700 mile trip one way every couple of weeks with a 1 year old and a 2 year old… benedryl was my friend. We usually left at 4am and they would wake up as we put them in the car. I would then give them some benedryl. It gave us a couple of hours of peace and quiet. I even used it once when we had to drive that trip in the afternoon. I did know it did not cause my kids to be wired before doing this.

    Comment by vw bug — May 4th 2006 @ 2:42 pm
  2. I’ve done a time or two, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work its sleepy magic on my kids. It doesn’t make them hyper, but I don’t notice them sleeping more with it, either. I don’t have an ethical problem with doing that; I think under certain circumstances it’s kinder to everyone if the kid can sleep a little better/longer/deeper.

    Comment by Andrea — May 4th 2006 @ 4:06 pm
  3. When my older kids were babies, doctors recommended sedating them at night if they couldn’t/would’t fall asleep. We never did it, though friends did.
    In terms of road trips, a nudgy, difficult kid can easily bother the driver to a level when driving concentration is impaired, which endangers everyone. So, I’d recommend sedating the kid for safe driving.

    Comment by muse — May 14th 2006 @ 1:23 am
  4. Just make sure to sedate them on the plane! Keep them up all night before then wham give them some benadryl and knock them out cold.

    Comment by Livingalmostlarge — May 13th 2007 @ 1:51 am

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