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Benadryl for Babies : Is it Safe or Not?

Benadryl is an over-the-counter allergy medicine that many people are familiar with. However, many parents ask this question: Is Benadryl safe for babies? 

Benadryl is an antihistamine that is used to relieve mild allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, itchy throat, and redness. 

The majority of the types of Benadryl are meant for adults and children over 12 years of age, however, there are also child-friendly versions of Benadryl designed for children 6 years and older. 

It is sometimes recommended for allergic reactions in infants under the doctor’s supervision. In this article, we’ll cover what parents need to know about the safety of Benadryl for babies

Is Benadryl Safe for Babies?

Benadryl for Babies : Safe or not

Generally, Benadryl is not safe for babies or infants under the age of 2 at home though it can be administered safely for infants aged 2-5 under a doctor’s supervision. 

According to Natasha Burgert, MD, a pediatrician in Kansas City and the author of the parenting website, “Antihistamines are largely untested in children younger than two, and dosage ranges have not been standardized.”

Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s hospital and blogger at Seattle Mama Doc, stated that she worries about Benadryl’s effects on breathing, especially in young children. Let us look at other things you should know about the safety of Benadryl for babies. 

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl (Medical name – diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter antihistamine used to help relieve symptoms of hay fever (seasonal allergies), other allergies, and the common cold and itchy skin due to insect bites, hives, and other causes.

The body produces substances known as histamines when it experiences an allergic reaction. These substances help identify allergenic substances and destroy them before they cause harm to the body. Though allergies are a way of protecting the body, they can work against one. Benadryl is an antihistamine that neutralizes the histamine in your body.

Benadryl causes sleepiness, which is one reason parents use Benadryl for babies. It can be a way to help them sleep on a plane ride or to help babies who have difficulty sleeping. 

Forms of Benadryl 

Benadryl for children is available in different forms, including liquid, chewable tablets, etc. 

Generally, Benadryl comes in the oral form, which is taken orally (by mouth), and the topical form (which is applied to the skin). Each of these forms has different examples, which have been listed below: 

  • oral tablets
  • oral liquid-filled capsules (liquid-gels)
  • oral chewable tablets
  • oral liquid solution
  • topical cream
  • topical gel
  • topical spray
  • topical stick

Uses of Benadryl

Generally, Benadryl is used to serve different purposes, but there are certain times when it is not appropriate to use Benadryl for babies. The active ingredient in Benadryl is diphenhydramine. This active ingredient is found in many cough and cold products.

According to the US Food and FDA, cough and cold products containing antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can cause allergic reactions, according to the US Food and FDA). Children under two years old are more likely to experience severe and potentially fatal side effects, such as convulsions and a rapid heart rate.

Doctors or pediatricians will not recommend giving a very young child a product containing Benadryl for a cough or cold, although they might do so in cases of allergies.

Some parents may want to use Benadryl to put children to sleep, especially when they are going on a long trip or a plane ride. Though Benadryl may cause drowsiness in children, parents must not use Benadryl to make a child sleepy. There are still an array of conditions that Benadryl can be helpful with, and they include: 

  • Drippy noses.
  • Itchy red skin.
  • Bug bites.

Can Benadryl be Used as a Cure for a Toddler Cold?

 Though the symptoms of allergy and cold may be similar, Benadryl is not a good option for treating cold, and this is because antihistamines work on only histamine responses, and cold symptoms are a reaction to viruses. Benadryl may help reduce the amount of snot produced; however, the drug itself does not make the virus that causes a cold go away any faster.

Benadryl Products for Babies and Children

Benadryl has a variety of allergy medications formulated for children aged six or over. The Benadryl  Products include

  •  Children’s Benadryl Dye-Free Allergy Liquid
  •  Children’s Benadryl Allergy Plus Congestion
  •  Children’s Benadryl Chewables, and
  •  Children’s Benadryl Allergy Liquid. 

Though these are safe to give to children aged six and above, when it comes to Benadryl for babies, you should not give them any Benadryl product without your doctor’s supervision.

Please also note that you should never give children any medications, including Benadryl, designed for adults. The dosages in adult medicines are higher than in children’s medicines, so giving adult dosages to children might lead to an overdose, which is dangerous for them.

Benadryl For Baby Dosage Guidelines

As stated earlier, Benadryl products (including those specifically made for children) should be administered based on a doctor or pediatrician’s recommendations and/or supervision. This also applies to the correct dosage of Benadryl for babies. 

The responses to Benadryl vary between kids and can be dangerous, and the sedating effect from antihistamines could be stronger than hoped for. 

 If your pediatrician recommends Benadryl for your 2- to 5-year-old, make sure you confirm the correct dosage and write it down!  You can follow the Children’s Benadryl dosage guidelines on the bottle once your child is 6 or older; however, note that taking drugs without doctor’s prescriptions is not good. Doctors or pediatricians will often recommend specific doses for a child, depending on their weight.

Each Benadryl children’s product has a different recommended dosage, so it is best to follow the instructions on the package label. You can check Benadryl’s dosage guidelines for information on the recommended dosages for different ages. Ensure you follow the direction and dosage recommendations of your doctor.

Check out the Benadryl for babies dosage chart as suggested by Pediatric Associates NYC

Please note that you should only use Benadryl with young children when your doctor recommends it. You should never give your baby any other medications alongside Benadryl unless your doctor recommends it.

Risks of Benadryl for Babies

Antihistamines have potentially dangerous side effects for children under the age of 2. The FDA warns of severe and potentially fatal side effects for children under 2 years who consume products, such as Benadryl, containing antihistamines.

To avoid any issues regarding the administration of Benadryl for babies, parents and caregivers should not give Benadryl products to children under 2 years of age at home

Possible side effects of Benadryl include: 

  • drowsiness
  • restlessness
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • a sore throat
  • dry mouth
  • stomach discomfort
  • nausea or diarrhea

Kindly note that these side effects can occur at any age


Benadryl for Babies is not safe when it is not recommended by a pediatrician or under the supervision of a pediatrician.

Here are the takeaways for parents and caregivers: 

  • Cough and cold products, mainly those containing diphenhydramine, are not suitable for infants or young children.
  • Benadryl is an effective medication for easing allergies or cold, but it has side effects.
  • Only use Benadryl as recommended on the label recommendations and to treat the approved conditions.
  • Using Benadryl for babies to make them fall asleep is bad.
  • Never exceed the dosage specified on the label for your child’s age or weight.
  • Strictly follow the recommendations of the doctor or pediatrician on the quantity and number of times to administer the dose to give a child.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you give Benadryl to a baby?

No, you can not give Benadryl to a baby without a recommendation from a pediatrician or doctor.

How Much Benadryl Do you Give an Infant?

The amount of Benadryl that can be administered to babies should be according to a doctor or pediatrician’s recommendations and/or supervision. This also applies to the correct dosage of Benadryl for babies. 

Why is Benadryl not Safe for Infants?

Benadryl is not safe for infants because the active ingredient in it which is diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that can be dangerous to children younger than two.

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