34 answers

Nervous About Giving 6 Month Old Benadryl

Hi ladies,
My six month old has been up with a stuffy nose and coughing for the past two nights. The doctor says she has a viral illness (no ear infection, nothing with the lungs) and suggested we use Benadryl to relieve her symptoms. We want to keep trying what we have been doing (running the humidifier, going into a steamed bathroom, maybe try sleeping in a car seat or with her head elevated, saline drops) before trying the benadryl. Not that I am against medicines, but I am nervous about giving this to her unless she is really suffering. I mean, I know she needs her sleep - I just don't want to harm her. Am I worrying for nothing? Is Children's Benadryl a commonly given medicine, and no big deal? Just wanted to see if anyone out there had any good or bad experiences with it. thank you!!

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Thanks everyone so much for your replies! After reading through everything, I definitely am NOT giving her the Benadryl, at least not until she is 6 years old and probably not even then. Thank you for all the information and suggestions!

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I dont like giving benedryl for colds, it doesnt do much good. Yea it may help her sleep, but that is about it. I use it when I know my daughter has a stuffy nose from allergies, not a cold. It is safe to give though.

1 mom found this helpful

I always thought Benadryl was for children over 6 years old. I do not think they have an infant formula. My doctors always told me to do as you are doing...humidifier, saline drops, steamy bathroom. The only other thing I have done was to put viks rub on their chests. It would help them get to sleep, especially my daughter who sucks her thumb and needs to nose breath so she can get to sleep.

1 mom found this helpful

I'd try tylenol before Benedryl. My daughter is nearly 2 and has had a number of colds, but we've never been told to give her benedryl and even if we had, I don't think I would have. Tylenol is fairly tame but does give some relief of the aches and pains of colds and fevers. The humidifier and warm baths have worked well for my daughter most of the time.

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Your doctor should have told you the exact amount to give your daughter and how often. Benadryl is an anthistamine, and what you're doing is going after the root cause of her problem, allergies or something similar that is causing her to be stuffed up. The antihistamine will prevent her body's reaction (stuffiness, runny nose, cough and sore throat). Children's Benadryl is a common over the counter medication that many parents use with great success. Just be sure to get the dosage from your doctor/nurse. You can always check with your neighborhood pharmacist as well. Get well soon!!!

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Are you using a bulb syringe? Saline drops do good to loosen things up, but babies can't blow their nose. Just make sure that you smoosh the nostril that you're not suctioning so that you can really get the crud out. It's very effective when combined with a couple drops of saline. Just remember to hold her head still and be gentle with the syringe.

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Do you have a nebulizer. If not maybe you could get one, I think you can find some pretty reasonable priced ones. This is what we used with our son when he was little during the summer and suffered from severe stuffiness due to allergies. We put saline in the cup and put the mouth piece by his nose and it helped out a lot much more effective then just putting saline drops in the nose. Just a thought. It is always best to avoid medicine if at all possible.

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S. - I have been saved these last few months by Hyland's Teething Tablets. They work wonders for my daughter within 15 minutes of dissolving in her mouth. They also make tablets for colic, gas, and cold symptoms. I have used the Sniffles 'n Sneezes with great relief for my daughter. This is just one brand found in drug stores. You could also go to any health store and ask for homeopathic tablets for your baby's specific symptoms - that's what Hyland's are. They dissolve under the tongue or between the gums and cheek. They won't hurt her at all, so there's no harm in giving them a try! The relief usually lasts about 2 hours, and they actually prompt the body to heal!

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Benadryl is very common and has been around for decades! That being said, it's pretty strong and powerful. It can knock most people out for hours and has a strong drugged affect for a lot of people too. SO if your baby is running a fever and needs hydration, I would be wary as it would dry your baby out and cause a lot of sleeping not allowing time for more fluids to get in. Some children may get hyperactive on it too! So be warned about that as well since you have no idea what the reaction will be yet. It is a great medication to keep on hand though. As it is the first thing you will want to grab if your baby has an allergic reaction to food when introducing solids or a bug bite.

If you are looking to clear up nasal and chest passages, I would try a chest rub. Take some olive oil and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to it and rub it on her chest. This will release gentle fumes that will break everything up. You can also buy several natural chest rubs that are petroleum free. My favorites are Mother Earth Respiratory Rub and Nature's Baby Ah-Choo! Chest Rub.

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I would be cautious with the Benadryl. It is very powerful and since they don't make a formulation for infants it can be difficult to dose. Infants have died from overdoses, so if you give it, get clear, written instructions from your pediatrician regarding the dosage.

I don't think that it is very effective in reducing congestion, but it will make your child drowsy, so she will probably go to sleep. We were advised to use it when our daughter was 8 mo old and had an itchy rash all over. It did not really relieve the itch, but definitely put her out - the problem was that after it wore off, after about 4 hours, she woke up and was very miserable and could not go back to sleep. I stopped using it after two days.

My daughter is in daycare so we deal with respiratory infections about every other week ...
To relive her congestion we use saline nosedrops. They are unmedicated and can be applied as often as needed, we usually do once an hour, when it's really bad. Put them in, wait a few minutes and then suction with the bulb syringe. I also run a humidifier and giving her a warm bath before bed time usually get's things flowing as well.

Good luck.

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When my son was four he had a severe allergic reaction, and the first doctor I took him to said to give him Benadryl. We did, and it was awful. It knocked him out for twelve hours, and he was sleeping so deeply that even though he had been potty trained for over a year he wasn't able to wake up to go to the bathroom. It turned him into a zombie. So I asked a different doctor about it and she said benedryl should NEVER be used unless it is absolutely necessary. I don't consider a head cold to be serious enough that I would use medication for my son. Recently (he is now ten) he had the flu and we gave him a little tylenol at night to help with his fever. But benedryl is a serious narcotic and I think it should be avoided. It sounds like you are already doing everything you can. Those methods combined with some cooled off peppermint tea and time will be enough to heal her. Over the counter medicines for kids have been proven to be unsafe, and in some cases even fatal.

good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Babies are obligated nose breathers, they don"t understand that they could open their mouths to breath so they try and breath through the mucus. Keep her nose clear and keep her hydrated are the 2 most important things. If you don't like the bulb suction they sell battery operated nasal aspirators at babies r us. Swaddle her up and clean out the nose she won't like it but she will feel better afterwards. I would try that before Benadryl. Good luck!

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I think your doctor is used to people wanting to be told what they can DO. But you are already helping her with the humidifier etc. I agree with you, why do it if she doesn't really need it--isn't really suffering. Benadryl's not terrible either, but it can make some kids hyper, some kids sleepy and some it doesn't seem to affect much at all. I would do some saline nose spray and just wait for her to get better. If you're breastfeeding, keep doing it because the milk will have live antibodies to help her fight the cold. Benadryl is great to keep in the house in case of an allergic reaction, but I don't think it's necessary for a run-of-the-mill cold.

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Hi S.,

I would follow your intuition. Benadryl is a drug, and every drug has side affects, and even children's doses of drugs are hard on their livers and kidneys. I would avoid them if you can. Keeping your baby well hydrated, running a humidifier, giving her baths, and giving her lots of love and snuggles will get you just as far without being hard on her little system. If you are breast feeding, it has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties. I hope she feel better soon. Good health to you both.

1 mom found this helpful

We found Baby Benadryl to be relative ineffective in reducing congestion like that. It will knock her out, so if she is not resting at night because of the congestion, then it will help with that aspect. The humidifier, Baby Vaporub (on her chest) and elevated head were more helpful in our opinion. We used Benadryl once and have not since.

1 mom found this helpful

I am so sorry your little one is feeling so horrible! That's no fun!

Did your doctor give you a suggestion as to how much Benadryl to give your daughter? If not, follow the directions on the package. I don't have a package of children's Benadryl in front of me, so I can't say for sure what it says a dosage amount for an infant as young as yours. You can always call your doctor back and ask for a speciific dosage amount if he didn't give you one.

Be sure to read the directions very carefully, as many children's medications say to ask a doctor before giving the medication to a child under a certain age.

Benadryl is a common medication to give children, and it does make most children sleepy. However, I do know that in some cases, including my brothers kids, Benadryl can make some kids very hyper instead of sleepy, so watch out for that in your baby.

The best advice I can give you though, is to follow your instinct. If you are uncomfortable giving your baby Benadryl, then don't do it. You knw your baby best, and you know your comfort level best, so go with what you are comfortable with. Hope your baby feels better soon!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

I don't think you're being overly worried, and especially as a mother, you should ALWAYS trust your instincts. I would be hesitant to give my 6mo any Benadryl too, unless she really needed it. If it's just a normal cold, I think you're doing good sticking with what you're already doing. The only thing I would consider additionally is either applying some Baby Vapor Rub to her chest a few times a day/night (or on the humidifier if there's a spot for it), or get one of those vaporizer plugs to put into her room at night to help her with comfort and breathing. Also, if you have a crib wedge to prop her up (or even a really thin pillow), I've found that to be a huge help for sleeping with my boys, especially when they have a cold. If she's really miserable and not sleeping well, you might consider a little bit of Infant Tylenol just to let her sleep. (Talk to your Pediatrician about how much for her age/weight.) I trust Tylenol more than I trust Benadryl. It obviously won't help clear her up, but it will help with other ailments of a cold, like any possible fever (though if it's a low grade fever, it's usually good to let it run it's course), or sore throat and/or just with that general "sick" feeling you get with a cold that makes you miserable. It's not a fun time when your little baby is sick, but she'll make it through just fine. :o) (And so will you!)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I always thought Benadryl was for children over 6 years old. I do not think they have an infant formula. My doctors always told me to do as you are doing...humidifier, saline drops, steamy bathroom. The only other thing I have done was to put viks rub on their chests. It would help them get to sleep, especially my daughter who sucks her thumb and needs to nose breath so she can get to sleep.

1 mom found this helpful

I dont like giving benedryl for colds, it doesnt do much good. Yea it may help her sleep, but that is about it. I use it when I know my daughter has a stuffy nose from allergies, not a cold. It is safe to give though.

1 mom found this helpful


If you are nervous about giving her Benadryal, then don't. I have found that it doesn't do much for the symptoms other than allow my kids to get some sleep.

That being said, we don't leave the house without it! Both my daughters have allergies, but one has a deadly peanut and tree nut allergy. Benadryl is very safe as long as you get the proper dosage, it really is best used for allergies, not colds. I have had to use it numerous times since my daughter was one year old, you just call the pharmacy or your doctor to get the proper dosage. Some other moms mentioned that it can make your kiddo hyper rather than drowsy and I have heard this also, so maybe it would be best to give the first dose at naptime rather than bedtime so that you know what your kiddo's reaction will be.

For me, Benadryl is a common medicine and really no big deal, as long as it is treated with care. It still is a medicine. It has also been a lifesaver, literally, in my home. I usually avoid medicine for colds, but if the kids really need some sleep and everyone is at the end of their rope, Benadryl can be helpful.

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S., you should definitely trust your instincts. You should also talk to your doctor about your concerns and find out why your doctor is recommending the Benadryl. It may be that your doctor is doing it as much to make you more comfortable as to help your daughter! Your doctor is providing you a service and you have every right to engage him/her in a lengthy discussion of your concerns and the reasons behind his/her recommendation.

Lots of people use Benadryl for their kids all the time. Dr. Sears even recommends it on his website. However, on the other side of it, recently the FDA said it couldn't recommend the use of cold medicines like Benedryl for children under the age of 6 (see http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/10/19/coldmed.fda/index.html). Personally, I made the decision not to give my son over-the-counter cold medicines like Benadryl. I stick to saline drops, hot steam vaporizer, and all the other basic recommendations, all of which luckily are exactly what my pediatrician recommends each time for my son. Convincing grandma that that's the best choice for us is a different matter, though. :)

I guess the bottom line is that the only one who can give you medical advice is your doctor and the only one who can make healthcare decisions for your child is you! Take good care.

1 mom found this helpful

A pharmacist recently told me that cold medications do not work on infants. Their entire system is different and so it might not even help at all. He said the only thing to use was tylenol or ibuprofen. I say go with your gut though.

I would be nervous too...have you ever seen the ingredient list for those medicines. Since it its what your doctor to you to try, I would actually try finding another doctor. Ours is wonderful if you need one that 's more into natural therapies, I'd be happy to pass her number onto you. I also love the Nosfida, they sell it at Milagros & it's wierd looking but is the best nose suctioning device I've found. Poor girl, I hope she feels better.

I'd try tylenol before Benedryl. My daughter is nearly 2 and has had a number of colds, but we've never been told to give her benedryl and even if we had, I don't think I would have. Tylenol is fairly tame but does give some relief of the aches and pains of colds and fevers. The humidifier and warm baths have worked well for my daughter most of the time.

Benedryl is for ALLERGIES so will not help a cold, and even so you are not supposed to give allergy medicine to children under 2. and for cold medicine you should not give cold medicine to children under 12, it has an ingredient that can harm their liver and kidneys. colds are just colds,they will run their course and be over with. try giving her saline drops (little noses) for her runny nose and suction it out

It is very commonly used. When my daughter was a little less than 3 months old, she got a rash on her belly and they gave her benadryl.
We had never used it much until the dimetapp type drugs were scaled back a few years ago. Now we use benadryl when the kids have cold/allergy symptoms. We've found that if you do use it like when they have runny nose, it helps to keep them dried out so they don't get ear infections. Other wise, all that snot ends up clogging the ears, etc. I know I'm always afraid to give meds to my kids too, especially when they are very young. If you decide to, just make sure you get the correct dosing from your pediatrician office. Don't read the labels or try to guess for a young baby. The reason the meds can be dangerous is if you take the wrong amounts, etc. Good luck.

I would be nervous too..I was told not to even take Benadryl when I was breastfeeding, so I can't imagine giving it to a 6 month old. They will get over it, and keep doing what you are doing, and breastfeed if you are doing that. The virus will run it's course...painful as it may be. If it gets to be more than a week and a half, then go back to the doctor, and perhaps antibiotics...but I have never heard of Benedryl. My doctor never said that to us, and she had an awful cold when she was 6 months. We went on a plane to Spain...thus the aweful cold. I don't think it's a good idea for a 6 month old. Good luck!

If you're feeling uncomfortable giving Benadryl, then don't do it. Along with everything else you're doing, another great intervention if you're breastfeeding or have access to breast milk, is to draw some up in a straw (or directly from the breast if you're talented!) and put a few drops up her nostrils. She won't like it but it actually will work to help her get well, not just reduce symptoms. Hope she feels better soon!

I never used medicines with my little one, it took a while but he always got over it.

the only real issue with benadryl, is that some kids can get amped up rather than sleepy. Not sure if it has to do with kids that have behavior problems like add or adhd. but i think your baby should be fine. i have never had any problems with my kids taking it. i even give it to them on the plane when we travel to help with the ear thing.

Unless she's horribly uncomfortable to the point where it's affecting you (sleep deprivation, patience, etc.) I wouldn't use the benadryl. Just keep doing what you're doing. If you are a SAHM, your baby's lucky because there's nothing much else that HAS to get done except tend to the sick baby. If you work outside the home, please don't give the baby benadryl to mask the symptoms just so she'll be allowed at daycare. That's not fair to your baby, your family, or other families. Virus' need to run their course in order to build immunity, that's why we shouldn't be in such a hurry to reduce a child's fever. The fever burns off the virus and when you prematurely get rid of the fever, it hasn't done it's job. That might be what keeps us sicker, longer.
Good luck!

It's super common. It's used more so today, as a decongestant, because pseudoephedrine has been pulled from "over the counter". Quite frankly, sudafed works better as a decongestant, but benedryl is "safer" doseage wise.

To use a "technical term" ;) there have been "gazillions" of studies done on healing, immune response to illness, etc. The absolute common denominator is this: People heal faster when they aren't in pain. From surgery to malaria to the common cold. People who treat the symptoms of a cold/flu and REST recover waaaaaaaay faster then those who just suffer through it.

(Of course, those who don't rest, but take x,y,z, to get about their daily activities take longer to recover. This is, by and large, and adult problem. Give a stimulant decongestant to a child and they fall asleep, because their bodies know they need to. Give the same thing to a mom, and it's dinner on the stove, and another load of laundry, and gawd what else can I get done before I pass out???)

Anyhow, long answer for a short question. Benedryl is an antihistamine. It is very very commonly used. It is not addictive. It DOES make nearly everyone very very tired. In FACT if you've ever taken tylenol PM or Nyquil you've taken benedryl, because it's used as a sleep aid. If someone's like me, and allergic to a kind of food that doesn't send you into full anaphalaxis (just numbs the mouth, throat, and makes it difficult to breathe), aKA not strong enough to need an Epi-pen, then they've probably got a few of those pink white and brown capsules in their purse, just for saftey's sake.

If you are feeling hestitant then I would not give it to her. Just do what you are doing and if you feel she needs then you can give it to her in the dosage the doctor told you! Good Luck!

I have never used Benadryl with our almost 3 yr old, but here are a couple of home remedies that we have used with success..With a cough and a stuffy nose we do hot/cold compresses on his chest to increase circulation, speed healing process and clear his nose. You have 2 wash clothes or dish towels- one in a bowl of hot water(like a nice hot bath) and the other in cold water. Start with the hot one, wring it well place on chest for one minute, then wring out cold one and place on chest quickly with as little space between one towel to the next. The cold is only for 10 seconds. Then repeat the hot, etc. The hot/cold cycle should be done 3 times. Keep your child well wrapped up in a blanket when not replaceing towels. It's helpful to have a helper who can be ready with the next towel =). When our son was as little as yours it also helped to hold him and walk around singing to him while the hot towel was on. If all that seems too complicated an easy nose clearing remedy is to thinnly slice a lemon and place one slice on the bottom of each of your daughters feet (on the larger pad) and cover with a sock. Leave over night while she sleeps. You'll be surprised how much it helps her nose clear. Good luck. Hope this helped.

Another thing you might think about trying is some baby vaporub. That helps my son a lot when he is congested. Good luck!

Who is your Pedi. ??? Don't think you should give infants benadryl- unless prescribed for allergic reaction- severe--- It would make her sleep better but at the cost of possibly hurting her in the process--

otherwise the safest thing is to do- humid., hose the nose, fluids, and good handwashing.

I know that feeling so well!! I felt the same way with my oldest. But, benadryl is fine, it's pretty common and will help her.

Another thing that will help, Vick's vapo rub has an infant version. It works great, and is safe for babies.

Do both and keep on with the humidifier. She'll be better soon.

S., you are trying all the good things that can help with congestion. My grandchildren, as babies, benefited the most from sleeping in their car seat and moisture. Coughing is also beneficial because it does clear out the airways. Benedryl is an anti-histamine and I don't know how that helps with a cold. I know many adult cold-medications include a Benedryl or it's generic equivalent.

My grandchildren used a generic cough syrup prescribed by the doctor as babies but only when the cough lasted more than a few days. My granddaughter began using a generic Benedryl as a toddler when her doctor tested for and found allergies. One of the anti-histamines caused her to be "hyperactive." Benedryl doesn't. She takes Benedryl for llergic reactions such as hives and inability to breathe easily. I do not know if histamines are a part of colds.

Not only considering that the baby needs sleep it is also important to consider how much the baby's cough is affecting the parents sleep. The idea for me is to help everyone to stay as healthy as possible. If baby seems to be getting enough rest without the Benedryl but the parents are worn out making them more susceptible to coming down with the illness and thus affecting the quality of care they are able to give the baby and maintain their job(s) then using the Benedryl is important for both them and the baby.

My grandchildren have not had any ill effects from the use of Benedryl generic medicines nor have I heard of anyone else being negatively affected, health wise. I have seen Benedryl cause a child to become more active instead of more sleepy as Megan says. You could try a dose during the day and see how it affects your little one. Different types of anti-histamines react differently for the same person.

If I were given the recommendation to use Benedryl I would research the use of decongestants and cough syrups as well as Benedryl and use the one most effective for the reason that you're giving the medication. If using the Benedryl is to help baby to sleep but doesn't clear passage ways I think I would only use it if sleep is the issue.

I have heard from several sources that a cold lasts up to 7 days. Sometimes a cough lingers on past that time because of the cold's after effects such as a dry throat and increased mucous production that the body uses to soothe the irritated throat and membranes. For me that is the time when I'd give the Benedryl or a cough syrup so that I could sleep. The more one coughs the more irritated the throat becomes. The cough becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

To medicate or not is such a complex issue. There is no easy answer. We also have difficulty knowing the way medications work and what is important to take for health as well as comfort. As a retired older adult who doesn't have to go anywhere I only take medication with a cold so that I can have a somewhat clear nose and can sleep. The somewhat clear nose is so that I don't tire myself out trying to breathe. A decongestant is for breathing. I only use an anti-histamine for allergic responses happening at the moment. That is me and what I've decided upon after years of experience.

I have not answered your question and no doubt made the decision more difficult for you. The bottom line question to be answered for me before I would give a 6 month old baby Benedryl would be does Benedryl provide any other benefit than making the baby sleepy? If that is the only reason for taking the Benedryl and getting sleep is important I'd give Benedryl. If sleep wasn't so important, I wouldn't.

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