Why It’s Not Safe to Give Your Young Child Sleeping Aids

Any parent who hasn’t given their young kids something to make them sleep (like Benadryl or Nyquil) for a long road trip, plane ride, or just to help them sleep through a fussy night of belly aches is a liar. These go-to medications aren’t designed to knock kids out, but that’s what many of us use them for. When my hubby was a kid, his mom would give him a shot of whiskey to help him sleep through a bad earache, so finding alternative methods to help kids conk out isn’t really an ‘unheard of’ thing. What parents don’t really know about is how unhealthy this practice is. Learn why it’s just not safe to give your young child sleeping aids.

Benadryl is a common allergy medication, and it’s also super common for parents to give their babies and young kids to pass them out for a few hours at a time. Benadryl has diphenhydramine in it, and diphenhydramine is found in most antihistamines (allergy meds). Diphenhydramine is also found in many sleeping aids designed to help adults sleep at night, and Benadryl has side effects of drowsiness. So it makes the perfect sleeping aid for your toddler, right? I mean, it’s not too strong to give to young kids, is it?

No pediatrician would be wise to advise it. Benadryl may make adults drowsy and sleepy, but the opposite can be said usually for young kids. Besides that, diphenhydramine can be very dangerous for young kids, particularly infants. An overdose can cause a baby to stop breathing, and can be potentially fatal for any kid under age 2. Besides, diphenhydramine makes adults drowsy, not kids. For most babies and toddlers, diphenhydramine just makes them dizzy, confused, cranky, and makes them not feel well, which means if your baby doesn’t pass out from you giving them Benadryl, they’re going to be crying and fussy until the Benadryl wears off. And you don’t want to overdose your baby on the stuff, so it’s best to just leave it alone.

What about Nyquil? Well, that isn’t so safe either. Even Nyquil and other night-time cough syrups designed for children can be misued and overdosed on, which can cause liver damage, failure, tremors, seizure, or even death in a child. Nyquil is fine in moderation and under the supervision of a doctor, but as an aid for coughs and decongestion, not to make a child sleep. In fact, the FDA does not recommend cough syrup to children under 2 years old, and since 2006, more than 1,500 children under age 2 have been admitted to the ER for overdosing on a cough syrup, with over 100 deaths reported since 1969 due to decongestents and antihistamines.

In short, if it’s not designed as a specific sleep aid for your toddler under 2 years old, then you should not use it on your baby. Sure, you may have been fed Nyquil like there’s no tomorrow when you were a kid and you’re just fine, but the FDA doesn’t recommend it, and your doctor certainly wouldn’t either. If you need your fussy or cranky child to sleep, try other tactics instead, like swaddling, rocking, or gently singing to them. Don’t drug them up with so-called ‘sleeping aids’ of your own youth. It may fatally endanger your child.


FDA: No OTC cough syrup for little ones – CNN


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