Wednesday, August 25, 2010


In theory I'm not a big fan of medicine for run-of-the-mill aches and pains. But when you watch my every day behavior, you may not notice. Even though I willingly went through an all natural labor, including eight hours in transition dilated to nine, I HATE pain. I talk a big talk about home remedies when I'm feeling good, but once the pain starts, its a different story. Whatever works to get rid of it, I'm all about. I do avoid antibiotics at all costs, but after a couple days of echinacea, garlic, or other herbal remedies, I yield to my discomfort and take whatever over-the-counter drugs necessary to avoid the effects of my cold, flu, or whatever. Actually, that's part of the reason homebirth was so appealing to me. I didn't have the choice of backing out. At the hospital, I probably would have gotten an epidural pretty fast because my values go out the window when I'm in pain.

So it's no surprise that when my baby boy cries like crazy in the car and I can't fix it, I'm not above turning to drugs. I know it's controversial, but I gave Malachi Benadryl this weekend while we traveled. I didn't do it because he was sick. I did it because he was hysterically crying and needed to go to sleep. My research told me this practice is controversial with a baby so young because the dosage is tricky. Also, most people who are critical of it tend to think that you are doing it because your child is annoying you with their crying and you are tired of hearing it.

I'm sure there are parents out there who use that reasoning, but I didn't. I did it because my poor baby got so upset in the car and I just wanted to help him calm down. It's not good for babies to have high stress levels (one of the reasons that I do not believe in crying it out, but that's another post). He cries when he's tired, and if he is unable to go to sleep, he just cries more intensely until he is truly inconsolable.

We tried everything. The best solution is usually loud parental advisory hip hop that I feel dirty listening to, but even that only works for so long. So after giving him constant attention until he reached his limit of being able to be pacified, we pulled over for a comfort nursing session and gave him the Benadryl. Just a tiny bit, small enough that I even doubted whether it would work for his weight. The result: it didn't work. In fact, if anything, he got more upset. In retrospect, it makes sense that would happen, since he's crying because he's tired. And if he's getting more tired, but still doesn't have what he needs to go to sleep, more crying would be the result.

But its hard to draw a cause and effect between behaviors like that. All I know is that he didn't sleep. He kept crying. The thing that finally calmed him down was when Joshua put his large comforting hand on Malachi's face. Somehow his daddy's touch soothed him and put him to sleep. It was an incredibly sweet image that made my heart swell with love for both of them. It was also an exciting moment, because it was one of the first times that Joshua has been able to soothe him out of such agitation, and I sense that Malachi may be ready for us to try some father comforts instead of always needing mama. Obviously, he is not out of the woods yet as far as newborn behaviors, this scenario being a perfect example.

So, say what you will about it, I gave it to him, and it didn't work. But we have another trip coming up, and I hate to think of him crying through it, off and on. Fortunately, he can be entertained by some things now, like singing and talking, and toys. Without those, we would have really been up a creek. My hope is that even in the next few weeks, his ability to self-soothe will improve and it won't be as much of an issue.

My question is what do you do? How do/did you keep your tiny baby from crying on long trips?


  1. The whole benadryl thing wasn't really a front-page controversy when our children were babies so I never gave it a try, although if given the opportunity now, I may not be opposed for many of the same reasons you presented.

    We often had to stop to nurse and that would be helpful. A friend of mine actually nursed-en-route with both baby and mama buckled. Can't quite figure that out in my mind, lol, but whatever works!

    With my first daughter, my husband and I both hypertextended our elbows with all the hand-holding that we had to do between the front and back seat to keep her sane while riding in the car.

    I think you are doing everything you can do. He is going to cry in the car; that's a fact. I think keeping your cool and doing exactly what you are doing is the best you can do for Malachi!

    Love your blog!

  2. with Lakota I can sometimes nurse her in the car seat...if someone else is driving, of course. but I've had to drive her a couple of 1-3 hour long trips, and I wish I had thought to pump and bring a bottle of milk. I actually wonder whether a bottle of water could work as well. all she needs is a few sucks and she's out, so that's what I'm going to try next time we need to drive a ways, especially near bedtime. any other time, if she just needs a nap, I can usually nurse or wear her to sleep and get her in the carseat asleep before we head out. but if it's bedtime, she gets really upset in the car, even for short trips. so I'm contemplating pumping a small stash of milk for occasions like that.

  3. oh and btw, she no longer takes a paci. is that the case with Malachi as well?

  4. So Flannery used to hate her carseat. I think it's because she's a tummy sleeper. She wouldn't sleep or, would fall asleep and then would wake up with bump. She would jolt with each movement and would wake up and then would scream her head off. It stressed me out so much! I once drove to TN, (a 5 hour drive that took 7 hours) and she screamed for most of the trip. My arm was so sore from shaking the carseat in the back row. I would try to "swaddle" her and that worked a bit until she got out of the swaddle and then I couldn't redo it.
    After that trip though, she was a bit better at car sleeping. It was as if she literally needed to learn how to sleep through all of the bumps and jolts.
    Amos was so great in the car. He took a binky right away (something we were opposed to then grew to love) and would sleep so well.
    So when Flannery figured out how to suck on her fingers, I tried the binky again. She was about three months old and up to that point, totally rejected the binky (It was so hard...I had to constantly nurse her which is really touch with two.).
    Now, she's totally hooked on the bink and it helps her sleep. She sleeps pretty well in the car, although, when she gets over tired and can't sleep, she screams until she either falls asleep or gets to her bed, on her tummy.
    I don't know what advice to give you, except to try a binky, since he's used to nursing to sleep, the sucking might help to soothe when you can't nurse right away. Also, Joshua can help put him to sleep if he takes a binky.
    I haven't tried the whole benadryl/tylenol treatment (though one guy once was shaking his head at it, wanting me to be appalled too, but I was like, "whatever works." since I was so sleep deprived!).
    I think the whole overdose argument is probably valid. I used to work at a daycare and we had to have a signed doctor's note with the correct dosage in order to administer the medicine and I always make sure to know the correct dosage. I do LOVE medicine, when it;s appropriate and used to give Amos the cough and cold medicine that was eventually taken off the shelf (it was taken off because so many parents were OD'ing their kids.).
    Good luck!! I hope the next trip goes better for the sake of all of you!

  5. thanks ladies. he does take a paci. just in the last couple of weeks, he can keep it in his mouth by himself. it helps when he is moderately distressed, but he reaches a point where the paci doesn't help anymore. he can't seem to use it to go to sleep in the car. i don't know. i think we are going to start trying some new things in terms of "daddy comforts" and that might help us out in several different ways.