Home giveaway Q2U – Would you give your child Benadryl to help him sleep on an airplane? (a poll and giveaway)

Q2U – Would you give your child Benadryl to help him sleep on an airplane? (a poll and giveaway)

by Shelly Rivoli

Welcome to the first Travels with Baby Q2U!
I get asked a lot of questions by parents, but one thing I enjoyed most in 2010 was hearing answers to some of the questions I posed to you readers in our giveaways. So in 2011, I’ll be posing a “Question to You” poll now and then that’s related to some of the sensitive and sometimes silly aspects of travel with young children, and I think everyone participating here can appreciate and benefit from our collective wisdom and experiences. If you are a blogger with a related post on the topic, feel free to include your link with your comment. What’s more, I’ll be randomly selecting one comment from each Q2U to send a copy of the new companion to the Travels with Baby ultimate planning guide: Take-Along Travels with Baby.

So, my first Q2U: Would you give your child Benadryl to help him sleep on an airplane? Just click your answer on the poll appearing in the upper right of the blogspot page, and share a comment below. If you are a blogger with a post or article related to this topic, feel free to include the link in your comment.

As for me… I have a lot of sympathy for anyone—fellow passengers and flight crew included—trapped on a flight with an overtired baby or toddler who for whatever reason cannot seem to settle in to sleep. And guess what? I have been there myself, early in my days as a traveling parent, negotiating a wild-eyed exhausted toddler who was supposed to be taking her nap (thereby helping us pass part of the time during a long flight with her) during our strategically scheduled flight.

Unfortunately, the airport and the airplane were far too exciting for her this time around, and the in-flight nap backfired. She could only grow more agitated by her exhaustion and, I’m sure, our mounting levels of stress. It was not pretty. One flight attendant asked me exasperatedly if I couldn’t just PLEASE give her some Children’s Benadryl or something to make her sleep? I explained, feeling awkward that I’d somehow failed to work “drugging my child” into my travel planning, that I didn’t have any with me. By the time we landed after the 5.5 hour flight, an older woman deplaning with us scoffed for everyone to hear, “Who in her right mind travels with a baby?!”

And that was the outbound flight.

It was a learning experience for us to be sure, but not nearly as colorful as the one to follow when, on our return flight with yet again a nap-less crankster, I pulled out the fluorescent pink liquid antihistamine I’d picked up during our vacation… just in case. I’d never given my daughter Children’s Benadryl before. And I haven’t given it to her since. In case you haven’t been warned before, it actually has the opposite effect in some children. Mine included.

Obviously we survived that flight and went on to undertake several more as a family, which has since grown to include two additional, younger travelers. I can’t say that nothing fazes me now if and when we hit a bump in the road during travel, but I can say I have a much better sense of humor about it—and a heck of a lot more tools in my toolbox.

As for you… How would you or will you help your cranky child get rest on your next flight? Would you consider giving Benadryl or some other “sleep aid” such as the homeopathic Calms Forte for Kids? (As always, confirm appropriateness and proper dosing with your child’s doctor before using any new drug–and unless you like living on the wild side, consider trying it at home first.) Click your answer in the poll above and share your comment or tip with the rest of us!

Win a book! One subscriber who comments to this post will get more tools in his or her toolbox, too, with a free copy of Take-Along Travels with Baby, my new guid packed with hundreds of tips to help your family while traveling and on vacation (this one’s open to my friends overseas as well–where the book’s not yet available!). You can bet I’ve included tips to help soothe fussy babies on airplanes, manage toddlers on airplanes, and of course help children sleep on airplanes, too—all without Benadryl.
Thanks for playing!

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli
Author of Travels with Baby and the new Take-Along Travels with Baby
https://travelswithbaby.com/    Travels with Baby on Facebook

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13 comments

Ask Shelly: How to help a baby adjust to a 9-hour time change and jet lag? - Travels With Baby Tips February 1, 2012 - 9:34 am

[…] see how to contact me with your own travel question! Related posts and pages: Tip #14: Sleep in. Should I give my child Benadryl to help him sleep on the airplane? Safe journeys, Shelly Rivoli Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along […]

Berta February 16, 2011 - 6:54 am

I once read on a parenting forum, "why would you drug your child for the benefit of people you will never see again?" and I tend to agree (plus, there's always the unintended side effects). In general, I've found that mommy's milk (nursing), a baby carrier, and a nursing cover (to darken the environment & block out stimulating visuals) to be my most helpful tools. (My child is 16 months now and has been on 12 international flight legs and 3 domestic flight legs.

Kimberly January 29, 2011 - 4:17 pm

I wouldn't get my daughter medicine for the flight, although I know I might be dying to! In order to prepare her for her first flight, I bought her storybooks about first plane rides and that helped a lot.
Kkrasowski at comcast dot net

angie January 26, 2011 - 12:45 am

I wouldn't do it unless we were traveling while my kids were actually sick. Something just doesn't sit right with me about unnecessary drug use. But I am that way in every aspect of my life.

Anonymous January 20, 2011 - 7:02 pm

My son has allergies and I have had to give him Benadryl on numerous occasions. It amps him up–no fun, especially on an airplane.

The other problem with "dosing" your child for a plane ride is that when you arrive at your destination, exhausted and ready for some shut-eye, you have a young, well-rested companion that is ready for action!

susanlanai January 20, 2011 - 7:05 am

My hubby and I have decided to not go that route. We've traveled with our little one several times a year, transatlantic, since he was an infant and he's now two. We've kept him busy other ways and he seems to sleep off and on during flights. I do understand why parents would want to give it though!

DY January 19, 2011 - 6:55 pm

I'm not even sure what I would do… I'll be taking a trip in April w/ my 1yo (at time of travel) and I don't even know what to expect. I'll definitely talk to his pediatrician first before making any decisions.

Coupons January 14, 2011 - 9:11 pm

I never knew that it had the opposite effect on some kids. That stuff knocks my daughter out like a light, but I only give it to her for allergies.

Kim Cotton January 13, 2011 - 10:08 pm

I wouldn't give my 3yo Benedryl for the same reason…that pesky opposite reaction in small children and he's already a handful. But I have used Calms Forte 4 kids. It works at home but not on the plane. The flight was just too interesting. We've given up completely for the last year after a downright horrible cross-country flight, so we'll try again sometime soon if I can muster up the courage to deal with new security procedures.

LeAnne wright January 13, 2011 - 6:28 pm

Our daughter has been traveling since she was 6 weeks old, the first trip being in an RV for a road trip home from Las Vegas to the Bay Area for Christmas. 13 hours there and 13 hours back. She is now 5 and has been on countless plane trips, car trips, usually with no problem. She didn't like flying on a prop plane from Dallas to Little Rock, and when we flew to Florida, we made the mistake of flying Southwest, which does not have inflight movies and did not bring a DVD player. Lesson learned. We have been living back in the Bay Area for 5 years now and she loves to travel. We also have a pop-up trailer that we camp in, and she loves camping as well. I was raised camping and want to make sure that she grows up with fond memories of camping, like I have. For car trips, she usually falls asleep after an hour or so. Plane trips are a different story. Outbound she is wide awake, but coming home she will usually crash hard, most likely 5-30 minutes before we land.
I think the earlier you start traveling with kids, the easier it gets. It becomes second nature to them. They know what to expect, how to behave, how to keep themselves entertained as they get older, and the family time is so important. Thanks for all the information!!

Elizabeth January 13, 2011 - 5:13 pm

I would never give my son Benadryl or Tylenol to sleep on a plane. Ever. Why? Because he reacts the same way your daughter does! I tested it before flying alone with my two boys (4 and 2 at the time) and it was a sleepless, miserable night at home. Ugh. For the trip, I let them run around on a broken people mover (ignoring MANY dirty looks) and my two boys were the only two kids that fell asleep on the flight.

However, I did give it to my older child on his first flight and he was fine, although then I realized he's calm enough that he doesn't need it. The baby (3.5 months) didn't need it either for her first flight and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she will be as good a flyer/traveler as the other two 🙂

beth January 13, 2011 - 2:21 pm

I love your site…my daughter has been on planes since 3 months old, and we fly about every 2 to 3 months. Our latest life saver is the portable dvd player. And to remember you most likly will never see those on the plane with you again.

FAMÍLIA RECOMENDA January 13, 2011 - 12:15 pm

There are so many ways of preparing a child before boarding a plane: explaining what´s coming up, taking a stuffed animal or favorite blanket, even showing her favorite dvds onboard. The most effective, we found out, is to take one or two short trips before the first long one. This way the kid will be familiar with all the drills and the environment of the airplane, helping reduce anxiety and excitement that, most times, are the cause of tantrums or meltdowns. Read more at familiarecomenda.blogspot.com (in Portuguese)

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