Giving the over-the-counter antihistamine to kids is a well-known parent “life hack”. James McMurtry even references it in the lyrics of “Choctaw Bingo”:

"Load them kids up, give ‘em a
little bit of Benadryl and some
Cherry Coke….”

The medical consensus, though, is that Benadryl should only be given to children over the age of two and, even then, under a doctor’s recommendation.

A daycare employee in Abilene has become a whistleblower after, she says, she saw the ol’ “Benadryl at Naptime” technique being used on a little girl.

This is Trystynn Lord. She says she only worked at Maw’s Daycare for less than a month when she saw the Benadryl trick being used by not one but TWO of her co-workers. It appears the Benadryl was used both times on the same little girl who was “being unruly”.

Parents, Grandparents and caregivers have been giving Benadryl to kids to make them settle down for over 60 years now. But, just because a lot of people have been doing it isn’t an excuse. Even an OTC like Benadryl can pose a danger, especially if the person administering it doesn’t know the correct dosage, which varies based on factors like the child’s age and body weight. Airline pilots aren’t allowed to fly for thirty hours after taking Benadryl. Further, dosing a kid to get them to go to sleep may be masking a more serious issue that could be making them restless, anxious or unable to sleep.

I’m willing to believe that the daycare workers were using what they considered “folk” medicine. Maybe they’d been given Benadryl when they were kids. Maybe they’d used it on their own children. This may be a case of honest ignorance and not maliciousness.

Interestingly, in the course of research for this article, I caught an odd, recurring tidbit of info. On more than one doctor blog or medical journal, I’ve seen it expressed that, if you ARE going to give your kid an antihistamine (which you SHOULD’NT without a legitimate medical need) you’re better off using a NEWER version.

“Newer 2nd generation over-the-counter such as Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra last much longer (18-24 hours compared with 4 to 6 hours with Benadryl) and have much fewer side effects, most notably sedation.”

Also, some kids actually have a very different reaction to Benadryl: they can get hyperactive. So, basically, the exact opposite of nappy-naptime.

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