drug 'em up

Amy - posted on 02/18/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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We have had numerous people tell us that when we go on vacation to "drug up" the kids with benadryl or other like medicine to keep them calm - or asleep. I think that's insane! But as I talked about this to other moms almost all of them have done it! "Knock them out so you can have an easier trip" seemed to be the consistent answer. I think that is wrong and lazy parenting. That way they don't have to deal with their kids. I think it's a leanring opportunity. they may be loud on the plane, may not want to sit still - but they have to learn sometime. Just like taking them to church or out in public. they need to learn how to behave. what do you think? have you done it? i would rather have an alert child, personally.

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[deleted account]

I'll be the odd one out. I've done this once! It was a long haul, 10 hour flight to the States, through 5 or 6 time zones. My son was 17 months at the time. I spoke to my GP before using anything. I was prepared with plenty of toys for my son to play with but having him sleep for a good portion of the flight made it a little easier on him to adjust to the time change.
I wouldn't consider doing it just for the purpose of calming a child down. I wouldn't use it on a car trip, where you can stop, stretch your legs, get some fresh air. I wouldn't use it on a short flight.

[deleted account]

I'm not so against it on essential long haul flights or those long bus rides accross America, but I've never done it myself. I'm fortunate to have a child who's a great passenger and flyer.

It does make my blood boil when I hear about children being given drugs to calm them down (unless they have a diagnosed condition and a prescription of course). I've even heard of parents drugging babies bottles to make them sleep through the night. How selfish and lazy is that?

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29 Comments

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Jessica - posted on 02/21/2010

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Just in case nobody else mentioned it. Taking out the travel aspect of the debate, giving your child drugs (like benedryl or tylenol) or alcohol just to calm them down and make them sleep is abuse, at least in Idaho. If it is considered abuse in Idaho it is probably considered abuse in other states, Idaho being the forward thinking state that it is.



As to the debate. My son has always been a good traveler unless he was sick so I never thought about it. However, if you have a child that is not a good traveler I can see where the temptation would come from. Traveling can be very stressful for everyone and not having to worry about your child in the middle of that could be very tempting.

Charlene - posted on 02/19/2010

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I don't agree with it either. Though, I am reluctant to give tylenol at all unless she really needs it. For teething she only gets it when she is clearly hurting from it and all the other methods have been not helpful.

For plane rides though, I always make sure I have it near just because of past experiences.

My daughter is only six months and she's already made two trips from Alberta to PEI and been on a total of 9 planes between the two trips. I never gave her tylenol or anything BEFORE the flights but on the first trip down, I made the stupid mistake of packing the tylenol in the checked baggage. When we were landing for the second time that day, I could tell it was really painful for her as this time she had been fussing and pulling on her left ear the whole time. I tried everything to soothe her until we got our baggage about twenty minutes later, but nothing was working and at this point she was pretty upset. As soon as my MIL pulled the suitcase off of the conveyer I ripped it open right there and dove for the tylenol. Haha. The one time I couldn't wait to give it to her, because I knew she really needed the relief.

As for the benedryl, my mom had suggested it before my trip down and out of curiosity, I asked the pharmacist about benedryl for infants and was told that it's not recommended for any child under twelve, unless prescribed by a doctor! I wasn't planning on using it in the first place, but that solidified my opinion.

Glenda - posted on 02/19/2010

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Have you ever read about Pavlov's dogs? every time he rang a bell the dogs would saliva because they knew they would get food, even if they didn't get the food? Behavioural conditioning.

Human beings are conditioned by behavioural experiences as well. So...like when your child throws a patty or misbehaves in a restaurant and you respond, its like a little imprint on their wiring for next time. Why not put in place good healthy wiring that teaches children how to behave in the car? enjoy the trip? and if you can't do either even DVD players are healthy than drugs?

I travelled in the car/camping with my 3 children and husband (which I probably would have preferred to drug at times !! not the kids...) and never used any drugs of any sort. We didn't have DVD players then either (how did we survive?), games, music, stories, talking oh...yes....talking...I know its an old past-time yet one of our favourites....we talk!!! We stop a lot too.....sometimes in Australia when we drove from outback Queensland across to the Northern Territory, we drove an entire day and only 1 petrol station/outpost in between in the middle of the desert.........we pack a picnic basket, the kids usually have their lunch boxes, rushing never seems to work and yes their are always dramas, just like at home (do parents drug their children then as well? is this about behaviour or just car trips?).

Then we need to look at the health risk to giving children medications which contain the same ingredients used in illegal drugs like 'speed', over long periods and regularly, the damage to their brain growth.

Before their are assumptions about whether I have ever used these medications or not - yes I have. My daughter had a connective tissue disorder which required irregular use of an antihistamine to alleviate symptoms with her skin and at random times when suggested by a medical professional for my other children.

Behavioural problems do not form on their own and they are not fixed with over the counter medications. If the behaviour is beyond the parents skills and capacity then get some medical advice!

PS My kids now say if we ever suggest doing that trip again they want a Winnebago

[deleted account]

Medicines are there for specific purposes, and they're great for that! But using them just to ensure the kids don't carry on is an abuse of those medicines. And lazy.

Slightly off topic,is this the same as those stories we hear about old people in nursing homes being drugged up so they don't cause a fuss?

Michelle - posted on 02/18/2010

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The only time I have given my children things like Benadryl and the like, is when they are actually unwell and/or have a temperature. I would never do this to calm them down for a trip. I would make sure that we left at a time where they would be tired, so most of the trip would take place when they were really tired or actually asleep. Take snacks, books and activities for them to do, and if driving take frequent breaks. Kids do need to learn about how to behave while travelling. When in public places I make sure that my kids are behaving and aren't deliberately annoying or disturbing other people. But kids need to be able to be kids, and not drugged up so they aren't aware, or made to sit still and not move the whole trip so that they don't annoy anyone else, or so that it is easier for the parents.

Melissa - posted on 02/18/2010

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I would never do that, ive never heard of that, it actually sounds kind of abusive. Deliberatly giving a child a drug(no matter how mild) to calm them or make them sleep is abuse in my opinion. I cant believe anyone would do this. It basically teaches the child that if your uncomfortable its okay to take drugs. Not the message i want to send my child.

Carolee - posted on 02/18/2010

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It's not a choice that I would personally make, but I don't go on many trips. I have taken my son on a couple of 7-8 hour car rides, and NEVER even thought about drugging him. I don't blame you if you do, it's just not something I would consider doing unless my child was sick and actually needed the meds.

Jane - posted on 02/18/2010

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I 100% agree with you, Amy. I never did this with my kids (they're 20 and 16 now) and even back when they were little, mom's were telling me that too. I believe like you that kids need to learn good behavior when traveling, in a restarant, store, etc. Teaching them to do so, not drugging them into it is the right answer.

[deleted account]

No, it's not relevant to the topic at hand. Maybe someone should make a post about whether fears are taught or not then...... ;)

Jackie - posted on 02/18/2010

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haha, yes i'm sure we have all joked about it/talked about it on ocassion. That's an entirely different story =) My comment on fears was b/c children are taught everything, they don't know a plane is dangerous/scary unless you tell them it is. But its irrelevant b/c that is not what this conversation is about.

[deleted account]

I disagree w/ the statement 'they will only be scared if you teach them to be', but otherwise I agree w/ the not drugging your kids. We don't travel though. I have joked about sedating my kids, but I think that's a lot more common than actually doing it (though I know some people DO actually do it).

Amie - posted on 02/18/2010

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My kids legitimately have motion sickness...and have vomited MANY times in my mother-in-law's car when we borrow it. We now give them gravol...the sleepiness is a happy coincidence.


Laura I know what that's like. My brother used to be the same way. I've been thrown up on more than once. Mom used gravol for him too. =) He did outgrow it though! Maybe yours will too!

Amie - posted on 02/18/2010

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Uh what do mothers of multiple children do then? Is this supposed to be just a baby/toddler thing? Or is this something for kids of all ages. /:) Weird...

We've traveled with all 4 of our children. We do so a lot because my family doesn't live near us, nor does my husband's grandparents. So we're on the road to see them. Plus our family vacations each year. We did our first one last year with our youngest. She was 4 months old. She slept fine without meds. In fact all my kids sleep fine in the van without being drugged up. They're just used to traveling, be it short or long distances. We also load up the toys, drinks, snacks, and DVD's for long trips. We stop every so often to let them get out and stretch, etc. I've never flown with my children, I flat out refuse to until they are older. Mostly because it hurts MY ears when they pop during take off and landing, I'm not going to do that to my kids when it just takes a little extra planning to drive it. Like my cousin did a couple months ago. She drove to Mexico and back with her son and bf. The bag wouldn't hide me in her suitcase either. =( So mean. LOL

Jackie - posted on 02/18/2010

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I agree with everyone that I would never do it, but unfortunately I have heard this remedy...esp. prior to a first plane trip many times. I've heard it "in case" they have ear discomfort and "so they wont be so scared". HELLO, they will only be scared if you teach them to be, and in the car or plane or wherever, drugging them is not the best choice. You just need to plan accordingly and bring lots of NEW toys for them to be entertained with.

Rosie - posted on 02/18/2010

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the thought never crossed my mind!! i've joked about giving my kids some nyquil to calm them down, but to actually do it never registered in my brain. i thinks it's because it is the most ridiculous thing to do, why would it enter my mind?!!

C. - posted on 02/18/2010

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Allison, I have heard about parents putting whiskey in the baby's bottle to get them to sleep at night. That just really pisses me off! It is so lazy! Babies wake up at night most of the time, that's just a part of life with a young child. I just don't understand some people!

Colleene - posted on 02/18/2010

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I could never imagine giving my son any kind of medication unless he was really sick...It is so sad that the parents out there that DO drug their children don't realize how truly blessed they are. They must not think about the parents out there who have children with disabilities.....they only dream that their children could.. run, jump, laugh and play!!!! Another point that nobody has mentioned is the fact that if the children are given the medication too often their bodies will become immune to the drug and it will not work when they really need it!!!!!! WHAT ARE THESE PARENTS THINKING???? but that is just my opinion :0)

September - posted on 02/18/2010

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I don't agree with it and I will never do it! We are taking our son to Florida for the first time this coming May to visit family and I'm super excited! I can't wait to enjoy a plane ride with our son, no drugs needed! I do however plan to bring lots of fun things to do to help pass the time; it's an 8 hour ride for us!

C. - posted on 02/18/2010

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That's scary! I can't imagine ever doing that to my little guy. He's so cute when he's sleeping away, yes, but he's even cuter when he's all giggles and smiles :)

Amy - posted on 02/18/2010

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glad to know i'm not the psycho one out who thinks it's not right! -even the travel agent said if we were worried about an 8 hour flight that TONS of moms do this. eek!!!

[deleted account]

This past summer we drove 2000 km across country and never once did it cross my mind to "drug up" my son - he was 1 1/2 at the time. We bought him some new toys to keep him amused, played some videos for him and made frequent stops to let him run off some energy. I've heard of other people doing it but it's not for me.

C. - posted on 02/18/2010

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I have never "drugged up" my son and I never will. I agree with you that it's wrong and seems to be the lazy way out. You can make your child very ill if you give them more than the recommended dose of ANYTHING for the age/height/weight. I am not willing to gamble with my child's health. You would think others would be the same way? The only time I give my son ANY kind of medicine is when he gets his shots, has teeth coming in or is running a fever. I don't give it to him unless he absolutely cannot stand the pain anymore from his gums (babies need to learn pain tolerance, I don't want my kid to O.D., yadda, yadda, yadda) unless he has a fever, then I give it to him regularly to break the fever.

Nicole - posted on 02/18/2010

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no i don't think that it is okay to drug up your kids so that they will be good that is just crazy! I know that some people come from a different time when that was okay but things are different now. when i was a kid my grandparents gave us wine coolers after we would drive all day on our way to fl. so we could unwind and sleep but that doesn't make it okay. but they came from a time when you used wiskey on your baby's teeth for teething! or many other old school remidies. sorry about spelling. but i do not agree with it so you are not alone!!

JL - posted on 02/18/2010

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Oh no I would never give my child medication for no reason but to just "calm" them down. My son would have to be medicated 24/7 then because he is so active and wild..LOL. Kids of course are going to be anxious about traveling and they will be hyped up because it is a whole new experience, but it is your job as a parent to make them comfortable and turn the hyped anxious curiousity into a fun learning experience.

Isobel - posted on 02/18/2010

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My kids legitimately have motion sickness...and have vomited MANY times in my mother-in-law's car when we borrow it. We now give them gravol...the sleepiness is a happy coincidence.

Sarah - posted on 02/18/2010

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This is one topic that makes my blood boil!!

I know a few Mum's who practise this to "calm them down" or "help them sleep" when there is NOTHING wrong with their child!!

Er......NO!

It is TOTALLY wrong and lazy to drug your child up to give yourself an easy ride.

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