Posted by Dana Hinders on March 28, 2012
As summer approaches, many parents are making travel plans for family vacations. If you have a young child who doesn’t like to fly or does poorly sitting still for long road trips in the car, you might be wondering if giving him Benadryl is the solution. Salon.com reports that many parents do resort to drugging their kids, but there are compelling reasons why this is a bad idea.
If you’ve never tried giving your child Benadryl to make him drowsy, be aware that the medication might have the opposite effect. In around 10% of children, antihistamines cause hyperactivity. I gave my son Benadryl for a really bad case of hay fever once when he was a toddler. It had the same effect as if I’d given him a two liter bottle of Mountain Dew and a box of Pixy Stix for breakfast. We would have been in major trouble if we were stuck in an airplane instead of in the privacy of our own home.
Another issue of concern with giving kids Benadryl is that you need to be certain you’re giving the correct dosage. You can buy prefilled spoons if you have trouble measuring liquid meds, but the dosage guidelines are based on children of normal height and weight. They might be too high if your child is small for his age. Your pediatrician can help you figure out the correct dosage, but most pediatricians do not recommend giving your child Benadryl to sedate them for traveling.
The effects of antihistamines can last between four and six hours. Depending upon the length of your trip, this means your child might still be groggy and irritable when you arrive at your destination. If it interferes with normal napping routines, this could cause problems with getting him to sleep at night. You may end up miserable through your whole vacation due to the disruption in your child’s routine.
What can you do when traveling? Bring along comfort items, like a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks. Have a portable DVD player on hand for older children. Drive instead of flying if at all possible. If you must fly, look for a nonstop flight to prevent the need to switch planes and to reduce the crowds your child must deal with. Most children struggle with the idea of traveling somewhat, but there are ways to get through the trip without resorting to medication.