Melatonin vs Benadryl for a 19 Month Old Help!!!!

Updated on November 11, 2010
J.J. asks from Minneapolis, MN
17 answers

Help ladies we are flying over Christmas and we have flown several times before with our 19 month old. Each time is gets harder and harder. He will not sit in his car seat, toys, nuk, and everything I can think of does not work. The last flight we took he cried and went nuts the whole flight.
So this time I have decided to try Benadryl or Melatonin. I'm wondering if anyone has had any luck with them and when do I give the dose to my child. Oh Thank you ladies I need all the help I can get!!!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Try the benadryl before the flight, first. I did that with my son and it actually made him more hyper.



answers from Boston on

You might want to try them out before you take the plane ride. I give my 7 1/2 year old melatonin to help him sleep at night but it has a totally opposite effect on me.

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answers from Boston on

i would consult your pediatrician on the dose of benadryl and when to give it to him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We've had a few plane trips with my son, including flights to/from kanas city/philadelphia when he was 20 months & 30 months and this summer even took him to italy at 32 months (that was long!). My parents begged us to use benadryl on the european flights, even going as far as to bring some over to me "just in case." They said I had to think of other passengers. I still refused. And yes, he is extremely active - the kind of kid that doesn't even nap, not even as an infant. Still, I refused and all went well. Yes, it was harder on us to keep him entertained, (and there was a big meltdown on one of the flights when he was 1 that was always in the back of my head) but I'd rather not drug my child for convenience. Plus, I'd heard that benadryl can have the reverse effect and I'm pretty sure that's what the universe would do to me if I tried it on him!

For starters, he gets his own seat on the plane without a car seat. I think that helps! He has some more freedom that way and you can gate-check the car seat on the jetway for free.

For the 20-month flight, we packed a ton of stickers. He could decorate his seat belt and tray (they came off easily), plus put them on the paper we brought. Crayons didn't work b/c he dropped them a lot and they rolled out of sight. A magna doodle helped some. I made sure to have things he'd never seen before so at least there was a moment of "new". I just stocked up a box with some cheap things throughout the year and packed them for a surprise. And special snacks for the plane only, like lollipops and fruit chews. He still thinks you can only get fruit chews on a plane! We also borrowed a DVD player, but at that age, he hated TV/movies and it was a big waste. A year later, we tried it again and it worked like a charm! Until the battery died.

We also added magnet puzzles and maze puzzles (no pieces to fall off) to the activity bag for the flights to/from italy. Plus lots of books, lacing cards and another zillion stickers. And, he brought his favorite stuffed animal. A 10-foot long stuffed snake! Yep, squish it down really tight and it fits in his backpack. And it doubled as a pillow/neck-rest for him.

But really, he has the attention span of a goldfish, so it wasn't exactly what we brought but the amount of things that we gathered so he could say, "See something else?" over and over again and the magical bag would produce it. Once he'd seen it all, we'd just start again since nothing lasted more than 5-10 minutes (except the DVDs when he was older). We packed his backpack with his toys and he could rummage in there or just wait to be (hopefully) delighted when we got out something else. And if you are flying over land, have him look out the window! Clouds, rivers, other planes. That was good for a 2 minute break every hour or so. Oh, and when the seat belt sign is off, he could walk up and down the aisle.

One Step Ahead sells some baby earplugs that are supposed to help with popping/ear problems. We didn't have to use them, but maybe that's why yours is fussy the whole time?

I know this doesn't answer your original question, but if the melatonin or benadryl doesn't work, you might need some backup!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I don't think you should give a child medication to sleep unless they need the medication anyway. I think you try to fly at a time that you child would normally sleep or you plan to fly when your son is normally at his best.

My sister has several friends that use Melatonin for thier kids to sleep but she said they need to be able to sleep at least 10 hours (is your flight that long?) It says 8 hours but when she used it it was more like 10.



answers from San Francisco on

If you do go with Benadryl, make sure to test it on him before the flight. I have heard of kids actually being more active with the dose of Benadryl than with out it.

Is there anything that you child will sit still for any amount of time? For long trips in the car, we offer unlimited Gameboy or DS pay time. I know you son is too young for those but what about a DVD player and favorite movie.



answers from Minneapolis on

We've flown MANY flights w/ our multiples and we use Pedicare decongestant to assist w/ keeping the ears open during flight. If your child is uncomfortable I highly suggests this 30 mins prior to take off.

Re: making them sleep ( a totally separate issue!!)- ours have never done that, but we do try to schedule flights during breakfast or lunch times b/c it allows for a good chunk of time to be taken up w/ them eating a meal (always pack our own and get milk at a coffee shop by the gate - they'll even warm it for you). Give him really small portions to stretch the meal out. We don't do a lot of TV so a portable DVD was great on the plane b/c they were enthralled w/ it.

Good Luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

guess i would talk to your dr.before guessing at what to use to drug up your child-they might have the correct medication for this issue.



answers from Columbus on

When my oldest was 18 months, she was having trouble with fluid in her ears, and we were flying. The doctor told me to give her a dose of benadryl 30 minutes before take off, and that she would sleep through the flight without any ear discomfort at all. He was right.

As your doctor, they will guide you with a dosage if this is appropriate for your little one.




answers from Minneapolis on

I wouldn't use either one on a child of that age without checking with the pediatrician first. As many others have said, Benadryl can often have the opposite of the desired effect, especially with children under 3. I gave my son 1 mg. of Melatonin when he was about 8 and he virtually passed out. It was kind of scary. I've been a little leery of it ever since. He has had it since then without that effect, but on VERY rare occassions and he is now 11. I used it regularly for my 15 year old dog who had sleep issues. The vet actually warned me that it could cause diabetes. I had never heard that before and am not sure what the basis of that is. She had so many health problems at that point that diabetes would have been the least of them. Either way, I would check with your son's doctor first. Good luck.


answers from Los Angeles on

well, the difference between them, is that benadryl, is a drug. It's a medicine. Melatonin is an all natural homeopathic remidy to help you relax so you can fall asleep at night. So, do you want to give your kid medicine that really isn't good for them unless they REALLY do need it for an allergic reaction to something, or do you want to give them something that is all natural and won't harm them in anyway? For just a flight, I wouln't give them anything at all. Just bring some small toys and some snacks and your baby should be happy. We fly all the time and my kids have done great (5 hour flights too).



answers from Rochester on

If you are hoping the Benadryl will sedate your son be careful. It often times has an opposite affect on kids. A friend of mine who was traveling alone with a 2 year old while she was 7 months pregnant tried it. Her son was hyper the entire time and the stranger next to her had to help her keep him in his seat during the landing.



answers from Eugene on

My son was really good on flights--BUT--he would not ever sleep (awake for 14+ hours when we would fly cross-country poor guy!) so we talked to his pediatrician and she recommended Benadryl and gave us the proper dosage. We did test ahead of time to make sure it made him sleepy and not hyper. It worked, but he still only napped for about 45 minutes even with the Benadryl, but it was enough to help him stay on some kind of routine and get a little rest on those long days.



answers from Dallas on

You probably want to call the dr on this one.



answers from Minneapolis on

You should never give a child benadryl to try and make them sleepy. First, it doesn't work like that on children. It may make grownups with allergies sleepy, but it makes kids jittery. Plus, I know someone who got in trouble with child protection services for giving their kid benadryl. Would you give your kid a shot of whiskey? Of course not. Then don't give them benadryl either. My 9 year old has sleep issues sometimes and once I gave her a 1/2 tablet of melatonin. It did relax her and help her fall asleep. I'd check with a doctor though to see if it's ok for a 19 month old.

We've traveled to Europe with our daughter 6 times starting when she was 10 months old. That's a 10+ hour flight. She was a bit restless at times, but who wouldn't be on that long of a flight. Once it got dark, she fell asleep. Can you try traveling at night? It might help to travel when he would normally be sleeping. It was enough for us to bring her normal comfort items - favorite blankie and toy and some treats and drinks to help with the ear pressure. Then as soon as the lights went out, she fell asleep for a good 5 hours. What about a portable dvd player with some age appropriate videos? This might be a time when it's ok to let them veg out in front of cartoons!



answers from Fort Wayne on

Hmm...I don't know. I'm not a fan of medicating a child just so they'll be calm. I think I would try some other things first. Plan flights during naptime, make sure to have lots of snacks, let him walk around when it's safe, maybe a new special toy for the plane.
I think I'd consult a pediatrician before giving any type of medicines, especially Benadryl. Benadryl has the opposite effect on my oldest. It actually makes her MORE hyper. I think it's because she's fighting the sleep. I've heard good things about Melatonin use at night time. However, this is really a question for your doctor.



answers from Minneapolis on

Do you prep your son for the flight, as far as building up excitement and letting him know what to expect? Do you have any awareness of whether his meltdown is related to ear pain, the physical restriction of the plane, overstimulation, etc.? If you are able to discern any of that it might open up some other options for you. If ear pain, maybe see an ENT. If physical restriction, let him run as much as possible in the airport, and take him for walks down the aisle. Or, are you stressed out about flying and he's picking up on that?

I liked the answer about ditching the car seat at the gate, because the novelty might be fun for him. We also use sticker books and have frequently been blessed with other kids sitting near us that our child could either look at (and we shamelessly point out other kids' good behavior as examples for our child!) or interact with. Obviously you can't control who sits behind you but if there is another family near you that might be another distraction for your son--plus you can commiserate with other parents!

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