Sedating your child on a flight – Would you?

I’m sure at some point we’ve all been there; we’re sitting on a flight and a baby in the front is screaming or a child behind you is kicking your seat and all you think is “ahhh please stop crying so I can get some sleep”. Or you wander why the mother is unable to quieten the child and make them stop kicking! Last year I was flying from London to Hong Kong with S who was 3.5 months old and as we got to our seat, a lady who was sitting across from us, all prepared to go to sleep mouthed “f**k” and subsequently asked the airhostess if there was another seat available. She then walked past us and said “Sorry but I really need to sleep on this flight” (assuming that S would cry) but there wasn’t even an ooh or ahh from him for the entire 12hr flight. Although I was put off by her attitude, I’m sure most of us have prayed not to have a baby beside us on the flight.

But the question then is, what do parents do about it? Shona Sibary of the daily mail has caused outrage among the parenting community with her recent article admitting to “drugging” her daughter Flo with sedating medicine as the toddler would not stay calm during a flight. She now has 4 kids and never travels without her bottle containing Phenergan Elixir. The first time Flo screamed for three hours before Shona finally gave in and then had a few hours of peace and quiet. Many mothers are told to take new toys, games and snacks to keep a child busy on the flight but ofcourse every child is different. While some children are able to sit down occupied with gadgets and games, some other kids may be crying because of the cabin pressure.

My first instinct when I read the article was to jump on the judgement bandwagon. A mother should be able to control her child, how could she resort to using drugs to calm the child, etc, etc. But the more I thought about it, I think in SOME cases, its fair game. I don’t agree with her when she now says she gives out doses before the flight has taken off in order for them to sleep (especially as they are now older) but if a child was screaming for 3 hours, clearly something is wrong. If S was screaming for 3hrs with an earache while we were at home, I’d give him something for it. So if the same was the case on a flight, I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving your child something for the pain. But that’s where I would draw the line. I wouldn’t consider giving my child a drug just to put him to sleep for most of the flight.


These are some of the “positive” comments her article received:

“I wish every parent was this intelligent on this issue. There is nothing worse  than being trapped in a plane with a screaming kid in close proximity. It is  incredibly stressful on most people.”

“Thank you! I would not condone this behavior in any normal situation but the  extremely cramped cabins of airplanes seem to make people nervous and prickly. A  screaming child can make any flight hell and the majority of other passengers  will appreciate your thoughtfulness. I was on two cross-country flights last  month and was seated across from toddlers both times. The difference between the  happy, sleepy child who’d been given a small dose of benadryl and the child who  was given candy and encouraged to kick the seat ahead of him when his ears hurt  was vast!”

And these were some of the “negative” ones:

“You drug your child because your a BAD mother simple as that.  They end up  hooked on drugs then rehab what are you thinking! I was air travelling from aged  2 and learnt how to BEHAVE….. if I misbehaved I got a smack. Parents today  just spoil their children like they are going to be the next “Da Vinci” well  chances are they’re not going to amount to such great heights. People without  children don’t want your more than likely germ filled mini me’s crawling all  over them during a flight  keep them under control and let them know the  consequences of their behaviour, not just on a plane but life in general in  other words GOOD MANNERS! Something that seems a distant memory nowadays. It’s  just me, me, me, us, me, me.”

“Where are social services when you need them?”

You can read the whole article here.

So what’s your opinion? Have you ever resorted to Benadryl to calm your child on a flight? Would you?


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