Tuesday, 3 December 2013


To drug or not to drug, that is the question... 

Issy, sleeping like a baby.

If you haven't heard of Phenergen then it's only a matter of time. It's been around for decades (your parents will know of it) and it is most often known as a sedative to help during travel. Your kids... not you. 

Technically speaking though, Phenergan is an antihistamine. It blocks the effects of the naturally occurring chemical histamine in your body. It is often used to treat allergy symptoms such as itching, runny nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, hives, and skin rashes. Phenergan also prevents motion sickness and treats nausea and vomiting or pain after surgery. It is most commonly known among parents as a sedative or sleep aid. http://www.drugs.com/phenergan.html 

That being said there are certain things you need to know about Phenergen before making your decision to use it or not for your trip. (And I take no responsibility for any actions taken by you when it comes to administering drugs to kids). 

This child (Isabella) was not drugged for the purposes of this photo
First up, Phenergen is not recommended for use in children under the age of two. Steven and I personally took this rule quite seriously, as not even our local pharmacist would allow us to purchase a bottle of it over the counter without knowing our child was over the age of two. 

The reason for it is that it can affect a child's breathing - especially if the child has a history of breathing related problems, such as asthma. 

In saying that, a personal experience springs to mind, when our daughter Isabella was around 19 months she had an infection in her elbow from a mosquito bite in Vanuatu! She was admitted to the Sydney Children's Hospital (Best kid's hospital in the world!) and was treated with a series of antibiotic drips. However, the pain was horrible for our precious little girl. It broke our hearts to see her in so much agony. The Doctors surprised us by giving us a prescription for Phenergen to help her sleep at night until the infection was cleared. 

Issy (left) does Vanuatu!
I remember the conversation well when I expressed my surprise because she was under two. The doctor (one of the best paediatric specialists in the country) replied... "Phenergen is fine for kids over 18 months. The warning is generally there as more of a precaution than anything." And, admittedly, it worked a treat for us.

The final tip I have about this one though... TEST it before you travel!!! You would be amazed at how many of my friends say their little darling is one of the rare few who have an adverse reaction to Phenergen and instead of bringing on a peaceful long sleep, it does exactly the opposite and causes a hyperactive bouncing-off-the-walls reaction. No one wants that!!! So, the general advice is to do a little trial run one night at home before the trip and establish that your child is not one of those who turns into a gremlin after midnight!

With all of this in mind, if you do go ahead with it, I suggest waiting until you are onboard the plane, allowing your little one to be familiar with the transition onto the plane (which avoids the freak-out of waking up in such a foreign environment), to enjoy the excitement of the take-off experience, to perhaps have a little bit of something to eat and watch a little inflight entertainment or read a book etc (in keeping with their usual night time routine) and sneak that Phenergen into their bottle of milk and then watch them fade within about 30 minutes.

Ratua Vanuatu. In my top three destinations!
Worth bearing in mind of course is how long your flight is, and the time zone difference when you arrive (and how long you're in that country for). For example, if it's a 22 hour flight from Sydney, Australia to London Heathrow, you would want your child to have a full amount of sleep as they would have when they are at home for a 24hr cycle. However, you want to time it so that they are not buzzing awake when you're landing at 8pm at night. But like I said, sometimes you may or may not choose to adjust your child to the new time zone if you're only there for a few days. Anything more than five days is sufficient for me to try to get the kids to adjust. But that's another story...

Happy sleeping!

And for the record, we have no regrets about the trip to Vanuatu - despite the mozzie bite! 

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