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Would You Sedate Your Baby on a Cross-Atlantic Flight?

Last week on the's chat forum, someone posted an article written by a U.K. blogger who admitted she gave her daughter a sedative on a cross-Atlantic flight, just to get some peace and quiet. Cue chat room critics. I'll confess that I've done it.
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Portraits of a newborn baby girl crying
Portraits of a newborn baby girl crying

I am on a chat board, which at one point was a wedding-based board and has since moved onto become a general interest site, filled with many of those women who were once planning their weddings who have long since gone on to have children. Debates rage on that site all the time. The usual suspects are the circumcision and vaccination debates, but the topic of drugging your child on a plane rears its head every once in a while and it's always a doozy when it does.

Last week on the Daily Mail (a U.K.-based publication)'s chat forum, someone posted an article written by a U.K. blogger who admitted she gave her daughter a sedative on a cross-Atlantic flight, just to get some peace and quiet.

Cue chat room critics who preached the gospel I've heard many times on the chat board I frequent.

"It's just wrong. Take a sleeping pill yourself, fine, it's your body to do with what you will, but medicating children unnecessarily in order to have a more convenient flight is something I'd never do."

"It is never acceptable to drug children unless it is for medical reasons and then only under medical supervision."

And my personal favourite: "If I had them, ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is totally wrong in my opinion. Discipline is the key to keeping children behaved on a flight."

The last one sticks out particularly to me given that the baby in question in this blog was ONE. Not sure how one can effectively discipline a one-year-old to behave on a plane. But, I digress.

Based on the comments in the forum, it's clear the original blog writer, Shona Sibary, has a bit of a reputation for shock-value blogging. I gathered this from a number of comments that were variations on this one poster's comment that "Before I go and read the article.... It's HER.... AGAIN???"

Sibary doesn't say what medication she gave her daughter Flo, only that it was sedating. I'll go ahead and assume it was Gravol or Benadryl.

I'll confess that I've done it. I didn't do it so that I didn't annoy people on the plane and I didn't do it for my comfort (well, maybe for my comfort a little). I did it because altitudes can wreak havoc on my ears, let alone on my child's ears and given how uncomfortable and antsy she is in a car, I knew the plane would be a disaster, and it was.

Of course, in my case it turned out that the warning that some kids have the opposite reaction that's intended and can end up hyper was true for us. So that certainly didn't help us. But I personally don't think that giving her a (small) dose of a children's medication to make her more comfortable at high altitudes makes me some terrible parent worthy of ire.

Sibary did herself no favour saying:

"It was the looks of hatred on their faces -- glares saying: 'Can't you do something about that dreadful noise, you ineffectual mother?' -- that made me reach, in desperation, for the bottle in my handbag." I mean, really, surly she knows that the finger pointing about her being an ineffectual mother will be far greater admitting that she gave her child medication she didn't actually need.

I don't believe for one second the poster who said she has never been annoyed by a baby on a plane. Even I'm annoyed by other babies on planes, even when I'm carting my own. I feel empathy for their parents but it doesn't make me dread take-offs and landing and top altitudes on a long flight any less.

You're pretty much damned either way. Either you'll be judged, according to those moms anyway, for lack of proper discipline or entertainment to keep your (ONE-YEAR-OLD) baby in check, or you'll be judged for making efforts to keep them more comfortable.

Unless we're talking about large doses or medications not specifically made for children, I really don't see what the big deal is. Maybe in Sibary's case, the issue is more to do with why she did it (because clearly she doesn't REALLY care what other people think, except for maybe when she's not behind a computer screen) and her reputation. But given the choice between my child being uncomfortable and antsy and screaming and squirming an entire flight, aggravating everyone and making my child upset, I'd do the same as her. And then everyone will be comfortable.

Written by Leslie Kennedy for

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