Don't Overmedicate Infants and Children During Holiday Air Travel
Dec.1-Many parents dread taking a baby on a plane or other public transportation for extended periods. Will your baby scream the whole way, irritating fellow passengers? To avoid potential problems, many parents consider using medication to cause their baby to sleep.
Medication is a tempting way to keep your baby quiet for a few hours during a trip, but many physicians don’t recommend it. Certain common children's medications (over-the-counter antihistamine diphenhydramine, or Benadryl) cause drowsiness in addition to their intended results, such as treating allergy symptoms. Diphenhydramine does have a long track record of safety and efficacy as an antihistamine, but some children get hyperactive instead of sleepy when taking such drugs.
Dr. Lawton continued, “I try to counsel families about ways to make travel with babies a little easier without using medicine. Scheduling flights during sleep times, getting babies their own ticket so they can sleep in their car seat, and bringing a goody bag of new books, toys, and favorite snacks to keep babies occupied while they're awake, for example, can make a big difference.”
If you do decide to try sedating your baby for travel, be sure to follow these tips:
• 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 will 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.