This post should also be called “To Benadryl or Not to Benadryl?”
When we took our first international flight to Copenhagen with Jacob in 2017, he wasn’t even two yet, and he was way too little for us to consider using Benadryl. We flew overnight, hoping that it being “bedtime” would help, and I think we might have tried some homeopathic baby “restful” tablets, but I don’t know that they helped very much because there was just so much going on during that flight, and Jacob has major FOMO. He slept a little that time, but couldn’t seem to get comfortable and was too curious about everything that was going on – people watching movies, flight attendants moving up and down the aisles, lights going on and off, that kind of thing.
But for our flight to Barcelona, we were determined that everyone get a little more rest. For flying during the day (and our return flight) I packed Jacob’s headphones, we downloaded a bunch of his favorite shows, and I made sure to bring all kinds of activities to keep him busy… but once we were on our way, we wanted him to understand that it was nighttime and that on nighttime flights, for the most part, people really just… sleep.
Knowing that he would be curious about and want to see EVERYTHING that was going on, we figured maybe we should skip the nap that day, tire him out, and then, if absolutely necessary, try the Benadryl. I got some Benadryl chewable tablets so that we wouldn’t have to deal with a liquid on the plane, and decided to do a test run at home. I’ve heard that sometimes people give their kids Benadryl to get them to go to sleep and instead have the opposite happen – their kid gets totally wound up and restless.
Luckily for us, the Benadryl definitely helped. I only gave him half a dose, and I don’t know that it made him fall asleep any faster than usual, but he was OUT COLD when we tried it at home.
Anyway, for our flight out of DC, we had a layover in Atlanta. We used that time to leave the airport and visit the Delta Flight Museum. It was a short cab ride there and it gave us a chance to walk around and get the wiggles out before our long overnighter to Barcelona. Plus, Jacob liked looking at, climbing on, and going in the airplanes and other vehicles on display. Then it was back to the airport for our real plane ride!
From DC to Atlanta, we let Jacob have the window seat, but on the flight to Barcelona, we had seats in the middle section, in the first row where the seats went down from 4 to 3. We figured that way either one of us could get out if needed, and he could be in between us. Once we got going, we turned all the TVs in our row off, explained to Jacob that it was past his bedtime, and that he could have some cartoons or whatever “in the morning” after he slept. We got him to go to the bathroom and brush his teeth and all the usual pre-bedtime stuff, took off his shoes and socks, gave him some pillows, covered him with a blanket, and tried to get him to find a comfy position in between us. He tossed and turned and squirmed and at one point said, “It’s hard to go to sleep!” So I gave him half a Benadryl. Again, it didn’t knock him out immediately, but it definitely seemed to calm him to the point where he could ignore the movement in the aisles and eventually doze off… and then sleep through any cabin noise or turbulence.
We were able to get a little bit of sleep, too. Some, but not much. As if sleeping on a plane isn’t hard enough, one of us had a sweaty little head in our lap and the other had scrawny legs and feet stretched out across us.
Around midnight or so, I woke up and figured that since I can do a late night every once in a while, and since it was already six a.m. in Barcelona, I might as well just get myself on Barcelona time. We were due to land in a few hours anyway.
When the little guy finally woke up, he was, for some reason, over the moon about the kids’ breakfast that the flight attendant had given me. He thought waking up, eating cereal, drinking OJ out of a tiny plastic cup, and watching cartoons with his headphones on was the best thing ever! Whatever floats your boat, kid… It made for a very easy arrival for us. While I’m not crazy about the idea of plopping the kid in front of a screen for an extended period of time, you do what you do to survive, right?
At the Barcelona airport, our trip through passport control was fairly easy. The agents saw us with a kid in a stroller and guided us to a special line with no wait. (The same thing happened as we were flying back through the Barcelona and Amsterdam airports, but definitely did NOT happen when we got back to DC.) We found our luggage easily, made our way to the taxi queue, and then we were off to our apartment! A super easy trip all around!