Traveling with young kids can be a nightmare for parents but is it okay to sedate your kids? One mother from the UK is under fire after admitting to giving them antihistamines to make them drowsy. To weigh in on the issue, The Doctors are joined by family medicine physician and parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa.
Dr. Gilboa says like this woman, she too has four kids and has empathy. However, "You can't do it!" Giving your kids drugs is not okay unless it's for a neurotypical child and is done under the supervision of a physician. By giving kids medications, parents are really looking to use their side effects, namely, drowsiness. However, 2-5% of kids actually have a paradoxical reaction.
You can't know for sure if it will be effective or not and there are other potential side effects like nausea. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork notes for most young kids you typically don't want to give them antihistamines in general.
If you give your child medication to calm them or make them sleepy, Dr. Travis says this could suddenly become the norm. It's a slippery slope and after it works on a long flight, what's next? When a babysitter is there. When you want them to be quiet? Furthermore, Dr. Gilboa says this is teaching your children a bad lesson; take medicine to change your behavior or feelings. "That's a lousy coping mechanism," says Dr. Gilboa.
If you are traveling with children, Dr. Gilboa recommends bringing earplugs, just in case, for the passengers sitting near you! If possible, try and schedule your flights for when your children would normally be sleeping. Plan activities in advance and this is the time to let your children use their screens, without feeling any guilt as a parent!
Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon notes a lot of time with children, they can have pain in their ears from the air pressure. He says to be prepared for that with at least something for them to drink, chew, or swallow to help pop their ears. Dr. Gilboa recommends lollipops.
As an adult traveler, The Doctors urge you to have the patience for young children and don't end up being the one throwing the tantrum if a child is disrupting you. Come prepared with your own earplugs or headphones.