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Baby Basics

When Can Baby Have Benadryl?

Baby has allergies. Is it safe to give him Benadryl?

If baby’s itchy or has hives, he could be having an allergic reaction and may need an antihistamine like Benadryl. (If you choose to use a generic brand, look for the ingredient diphenhydramine, since a lot of allergy medications have multiple ingredients.) But before you give baby any meds, always check in with your pediatrician — especially if baby’s six months old or younger, since it’s easier for him to get sick and you’ll want to make sure it’s really just an allergic reaction, and not anything systemic or life-threatening.

Remember that the proper dosage for baby is based on weight, not age, so to be safe, you’ll want to start off with half a dose: For every 20 pounds he weighs, give baby half a teaspoon of liquid Benadryl (if baby’s under 20 pounds, try one-quarter teaspoon). The medicine will last six to eight hours and typically kicks in within 20 minutes.

Benadryl has a sedative effect (which is why it’s so important to stick to the proper dosage!), but it should be used only to treat allergies and never to help baby fall asleep. If you’re having trouble getting baby to sleep, you may want to start a bedtime routine that includes a bath, a pre-bed bottle and a bedtime story.

Plus, more from The Bump

Tricks for Giving Baby Medicine

How to Keep Baby Cold-free

When Should I Give Baby Acetaminophen?

By Dr. Cheryl Wu