Traveling for holidays? Drop that Benedryl, doctor says
Many parents dread taking a baby on a plane. They see the eye-rolling the second they bring a baby on board. So, it’s not unusual for parents to consider avoiding the eye-daggers by using medication to make their baby sleep.
We have debated this issue on this blog here before. It is an approved over-the-counter medication and most people wouldn't think twice to give it to their child if they had hives or allergies, so some don't consider a dose of Benedryl before a flight "drugging" their child. But many physicians don’t recommend it. Sure, certain medications like over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine, or Benadryl, cause drowsiness, but some children get wired or hyperactive instead of sleepy when taking such drugs. There's also the sad cases such as this one, where over-use leads to death.
“Even more important is that, with any medication, there can be dangerous side effects, such as a fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, and changes in blood pressure," warns a holiday press release from Dr. Wendy Lawton, a pediatrician at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Michigan. "Because the risks of serious adverse reactions often outweigh the benefits, over-the-counter medicines must be used with caution in babies and young children.”
Dr. Lawton offers these tips to make travel with babies a little easier without using medicine:
- Scheduling flights during sleep times.
- Get the babies his own ticket so he can sleep in his car seat.
- Bringing a goody bag of new books, toys, and favorite snacks to keep babies occupied while they're awake
If you do decide to try sedating your baby for travel, be sure to follow these tips, Dr. Lawton advises that you should discuss your plan with your child’s doctor. Some medications are unsafe if your baby has certain health conditions or is taking other drugs. Talk to your doctor about the correct dose. Medications are dosed based on a baby’s weight, so you may need to visit the doctor's office if your baby hasn’t been weighed recently. Do a test run of the medication before you travel, and monitor your baby for side effects. It’ll be easier to deal with any unexpected reactions while you’re still at home than when you’re on a plane, train, or other form of public transportation.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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