Is It Illegal Or Child Abuse To Give A Young Child Benadryl Or Some Other Analgesic Drug To Make Them Sleep?

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One of my neighbours confided in me that she gives her 2 year old son Benadryl or something like it every night before bed to ensure he sleeps through the night until 8 or 9 am She does stick to the correct dose, and it’s only the once per day, but he’s not sick, its just to make him sleep.
Is this abuse?

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31 Responses to “Is It Illegal Or Child Abuse To Give A Young Child Benadryl Or Some Other Analgesic Drug To Make Them Sleep?”

  1. Olivia's Mama says:

    i dont think its illegal. but i ts bad parenting for sure

  2. Joan R says:

    It’s probably not illegal but it should be.
    Children should be given a bedtime routine and a relaxing bath and hot milk with a story in order to get them off to sleep not drugs!!!

  3. Sad Videos says:

    as part of the recent recommendations against giving otc cold medicines to young kids, there was a strong recommendation to *never* give medications like benadryl for sedation.
    i know i read this in the new york times at some point … you might want to search on the article and just let your neighbor see it….

  4. Loulla says:

    If it’s not illegal then it bloody should be!
    It’s really unfair to do that to baby. You never know what kind of damage she could be doing to her little one by giving medication designed to ward off allergies as a means of getting her little one to sleep!
    It could also make her son form a barrier against the medication, so when he’s older and he really IS sick, medication won’t work on him ad he’ll be immune to it from it being put in his system daily.
    Why can’t she give him a bath every night followed by a cup of warm milk to relax him before putting him in bed with a story? All she needs to do is put an hour or so of her precious time in to spend it wisely in getting her son to sleep safely, and above all, healthily!

  5. Red (UK) says:

    well it’s common that’s for sure! I have known of lots of mothers that do it (when I worked in a retail pharmacy) – although I have never resorted to it – if it’s in the safe limits and occasionally….not really sure – I think it’s a pretty grey area. But it may be better than be driven insane through lack of sleep as a parent!
    If it’s every night – then yes – it’s dangerous and wrong.

  6. Yes, it’s child abuse if she’s giving it SOLELY to put him to sleep. She’s really screwing with his body clock and who knows what long term damage she is doing.

  7. it might be idk sorry

  8. orphan annie says:

    If a child doesn’t need a type of medicine, then yes, I believe it would be considered abuse. She shouldn’t be giving her child any medicine, even the correct dosing, if he doesn’t need it. If her child has allergies she needs to take him to the doctor and be put on allergy medication. I would call cps and see what they say about it.

  9. Linda S says:

    What willl she do when she needs it and it won’t work because the child is too used to it.
    It is not illegal it is selfish. plus foolish

  10. Catherine -Ann says:

    I don’t think it’s abuse but why don’t she take him to the doctors or wear him out by playing with him. His body will get used to it so what will she do then?

  11. Missy H says:

    There are no black and white rules as to whether this is abuse or not but in my eyes it is.
    Medicating anyone when it isn’t needed for your own gain is wrong.
    And even though she is sticking to the correct dose it is still dangerous.


    He will get used to the Benadryl so what will she do then? Tell her to just play with him a few hours before bed, that’s the normal way to get kids to go to sleep. Or either give him a bath before he goes to bed, my brother always falls asleep right after and it doesn’t involve medicine.

  13. benandje says:

    Giving ANY kind of medication every night, when the child is not sick purely because the parent wants to sleep is WRONG. Correct dosage or not, it’s drug abuse. When he gets immune to the effects of benadryl, will she be moving on to Tylenol PM or prescription sleep aids? I am far from being in a position to judge… I have to admit doing that once .HOWEVER this was AFTER the child had been screaming for hours ( more than 4, actually) in the middle of the night and on the advice of my pediatrician after trying a bath, back rubs warm milk, soothing music, and having my mother come over to help. The child was literally hysterical. However, this is not the same as convenient drug induced stupor.

  14. tammer says:

    its not against the law……. But his body can build a resistance then what will she give him…..
    If she does it out of fear she wont wake up and he could get out of the house…. i would think there would be a better option but safer then him getting out and wandering off or being in the street.
    I feel its selfish to unneedingly medicate your children. My kids have taken it for hives, and allergies in my children it has the reverse effect it makes them hyper and jumpy.

  15. lil-bo-p says:

    It is not illegal and I do not think it is child abuse (might be in some states who knows). I think it is 100% wrong. When they child needs it for an allergy what is she going to do then?
    Plus it might start having a reverse affect and he might start to get very hyper from it. She needs to stop I am not sure how you can make her but that is stupid. What if there were a fire in the house, a non drugged baby or child is more likely to wake up and know what to do or at least cry a drugged baby might not wake up. :(

  16. Annie Fannie says:


  17. Robyn H says:

    i use benydryl also to go to sleep, it isnt illegal or perscription and can be used to infants, benedryl is an allergy medican that has side effects of being reaallyyy sleepy

  18. Amanda says:

    then your neighbor is a dumazz! you never give a child anything unless they need it-and hell yeah its abuse-if child services found out-she would be under full investigation and probably lose custody of her child……and she would deserve it too.!

  19. lovely says:

    Well if the child can’t sleep than I think it’s ok but if it’s because you want to get more sleep and get out of taking care of your responsibility than I think it’s a problem A few months back my 6 year old daughter was having trouble sleeping and I told the doctor about it and she prescribed benadryl I never did end up giving it to her but if a doctor prescribed it than it’s commonly used as a sleep aid well goodluck

  20. pinkpigl says:

    Yes I believe they would consider it abuse because long term use of any type of medicine like that can cause liver damage and possibly death.
    Used once in a while the medicines are safe but they are not made for long term use. Please report this as the child is not safe.

  21. cer448 says:

    Yes, it is neglect and harmful to the child and she can be prosecuted (just recall the day care that was putting into bottles to put the kids to sleep….)
    Exposure like that to any kind of medicines over lengths of time put wear on the child’s kidneys and liver which filter medicines etc….it is ridiculous and most important Dangerous.

  22. adayandf says:

    I can’t believe how many people have responded like this is the most horrible thing in the world. I mean half of you probably aren’t even in the position to judge. Unless you have kids you couldn’t possibly know what this is like. I don’t blame her for doing this. I mean unless you can actually meet this kid you don’t know what this kid is like. I mean maybe the kid can’t sleep on his own. I mean haven’t you ever heard of the terrible twos? This kid could be bouncing of the walls in the middle of the night and depriving himself of sleep. Kids that young need a good night’s sleep to aid in the rapid growth at that young age. So for the sake of the parent and child this isn’t such a bad thing. It can be very hard to get a good night sleep when you have a kid crying, screaming, whatever. Granted I don’t think she should do this every night, just on the nights where she or her husband has to get up to go to work the next morning. I mean ask yourself, how you would feel if you had to get up and go to work but you couldn’t get a good night’s sleep because your child kept you up all night. The drug in Benadryl is also sold as a sleep aid so it isn’t like she is misusing it. This isn’t abuse, this isn’t illegal, there is nothing wrong with it. If you consult a doctor they will likely suggest it if nothing else works. Kids not much older than him are given Ritalin everyday and that is way worse but completely legal. You people seriously need to get off your high horses and put yourself in this woman’s shoes.

  23. Brandon G says:

    It shouldn’t be because it’s not your intent to abuse your child.

  24. Happy Man says:

    It is not abuse it is stupidity.

  25. Dean says:

    Child protective services will take your child or infant if they find out your giving your child any source of medication that is not prescribed by a doctor if your abusing the medication. Drug induced sleep is dangerous to children and infants. yes it is considered child abuse. Parents and childcare that are abusing the drugs and children. They have no knowledge of what the side effects do to infants and children. It can even cause death. We have so many cases of childcare and parents causing children and infants death’s, due to drug induced sleep. Very dangerous to do this. Stop!
    If you feel your child or infant is having trouble with sleeping, I suggest you seek help from doctor! Don’t take matters in your own hands your child’s life depends on you!

  26. Kunzite says:

    Once in awhile if the kid is sick and just can’t sleep, or maybe if there is a time difference involved, but everyday? That is too much.

  27. chris lopez says:

    srry for being rude but i dnt want 2 no if a mother gives her child medicine dey dnt need is it child abuse? i want 2 no if a mother dicides 2 treat her child herself denyin medicine dey need is it consider child abuse?

  28. chris says:

    my uestion is sumtin else but simaler i want 2 no if a mother dosnt give her child the medicine they need is it child abuse? or even legal or sumtin else?

  29. sarah says:

    TO Dean…..Child Protective Services will DO NO SUCH THING as take away a child from a parent for giving them benedryl, that is an ABSURD THING TO SAY!!!! If you just take your child to their Dr. and ask them, they will give you the CORRECT answer for YOUR child and situation.

  30. Connie says:

    It is child abuse to give a child benedryl to calm them or put them to sleep…If you call the abuse hotline 1-800-96-abuse they will be investigated

  31. Dominick says:

    I am a single mother. I work full time and go to school part time. I do all of it on my own. My child was staying up all night sometimes and I couldn’t go any more. I got to the point that I was mad at my child. She couldn’t help it, she didn’t know any better. I was concerned about the way I felt. I went to the doctor with her and asked for some advice and my doctor suggested every now and then giving her a dose of Benadryl for me to catch up on some sleep. I did and it really helped us both very much. I don’t think I would do it every day because what if she needed for some allergic reaction and became immune to the medicine. I do not consider what that mother did child abuse in the least or selfish, but more fear than anything. Maybe she worried that at that point when you are completely drained and you can have any sleep, she would hurt the child. But, I don’t think she thought it through that someday her child may actually need the medication.

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