Benadryl for food allergy in baby

Is Benadryl Safe for Infants?

Most people, whether they have children or not, are familiar with Benadryl and its use as an over the counter allergy medicine. However, if you are a parent, you might have questions about when it is appropriate to give your child Benadryl and if Benadryl is safe for infants. As with any over the counter medication, you should consult a medical professional before giving it to your child for the first time, even if it’s something as common as Benadryl. Let’s take a look at what this medication is used for and whether or not Benadryl is safe for infants.

What is Benadryl Used For?

Benadryl is readily available as an over the counter medication, used mostly to relieve the symptoms of allergies including watery and red eyes, itchiness, sneezes, and runny noses. Benadryl is the brand name for the drug diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, a type of receptor antagonist drug used to treat symptoms of seasonal allergies, environmental or contact allergies, hay fever, and is even used in many cold medicines.

Benadryl comes in many forms and at different dosages for both adults and children. It is often in solid pill form (non-chewable), liquid-filled gel capsules, liquid suspension, chewable tablets, dissolving tablets, dissolving strips, and powder. There are also dye-free varieties for people who may have sensitivities. 

In children, Benadryl should generally only be used to treat allergic reactions under the advice of a pediatrician. Alternative treatments should be discussed for its other uses. And as we will discuss later, Benadryl should only be given to older children and can be unsafe for the very young.

Many people think that because it is a commonly used medication, it is safe to give children Benadryl to calm them down for things like travel because it will make them sleepy. However, it is not as safe as some think. Benadryl carries risks when given to young children so it should not be given when not needed for allergies or recommended by a medical professional. Also, habitual overuse of Benadryl can build up resistance, and 10-15% of children have the opposite reaction and become hyperactive after they take Benadryl.

Is Benadryl Safe for Infants?

While it is true that Benadryl is a common treatment used in adults and older children, diphenhydramine but can be dangerous for children under two years old. And after two it should be used carefully with a doctor’s advice on frequency and dosage. Therefore, Benadryl is not safe for infants as a general rule. This is because the active ingredient diphenhydramine is an antihistamine, which can be dangerous to children younger than two.

Because Benadryl is an antihistamine, it can cause serious or even fatal side effects in infants. These side effects include rapid heartbeat and convulsions. If your child has allergies, then you should talk to the pediatrician about the proper medication to use during a reaction. And if your child has an allergic reaction and you do not have any doctor-approved medication on hand, contact a doctor immediately and seek emergency medical attention.

If your child is between the ages of two and six, then you should still seek your pediatrician’s advice about when it is safe to give them over the counter medication containing diphenhydramine and how much to give them. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has more information on why you should be careful when administering allergy, cough, and cold medications to your child.

From ages six to twelve, children should only be given versions of the medication made especially for children. Not only are these varieties easier for children to take (they may be chewable or a flavored liquid), but it is easier to control the dose and come in dosages safer for children. After twelve years old, adult products are generally safe for otherwise healthy children.

While Benadryl should be only administered to infants with a doctor’s guidance, dosage guidelines should be followed for older children. Carithers Pediatric Group has a dosage calculator on our website to help if you need a reminder.

For Additional Information

If you have questions or concerns about what over the counter medications are safe for your child at any age, Carithers Pediatric Group can provide guidance by contacting us and using our dosage calculator. We have been serving the Jacksonville, FL area since 1941 and we’re committed to providing total care for your child from infancy to the college years. We have two locations to make visiting more convenient. Our Riverside location can be reached at 904-387-6200 and our Southside location can be reached at 904-997-0023. If you are an established patient, you can conveniently request a well visit online.

Is Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Safe For Babies? ReadySetFood!

If your baby has a food allergy, is it safe to give them Benadryl to treat their allergic reaction? Today, we'll cover what parents need to know about Benadryl.

Benadryl is a type of over-the-counter medicine known as an antihistamine. It is used to relieve mild allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, itchy throat, and redness.  

Most types of Benadryl are meant for adults and children over 12 years of age. There are also children’s versions of Benadryl, but they’re designed for children 6 years and older. 

Even so, some doctors may sometimes recommend Benadryl for allergic reactions in infants, under their supervision. But is Benadryl a safe option for babies? Today, we’ll cover what parents need to know about the safety of Benadryl for infants. We’ve included recommendations from Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, Board-Certified allergist and Chief Allergist.

However, please always follow the guidance and recommendations of your doctor.

Please always follow the guidance and recommendations of your doctor.

When to Use Benadryl, When Not to, and Potential Side Effects

Benadryl’s active ingredient is an antihistamine called diphenhydramine. Although this ingredient is common in cough and cold remedies, doctors will never recommend a Benadryl product for a baby with a cough or cold. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that you avoid giving cough and cold products to infants under two years of age.

This is because Benadryl could potentially cause severe side effects in babies, including rapid heart rate, convulsions, seizures, trouble breathing, or even sudden infant death.

Other possible side effects of Benadryl in babies may include:

  • Restlessness or trouble sleeping
  • Irritability/agitation
  • Sleepiness/drowsiness/fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

Notable side effects of Benadryl may include drowsiness and sleepiness. But parents and caregivers should also never use Benadryl to make a child sleepy.

However, doctors may still recommend children’s liquid Benadryl allergy medicine to treat a baby’s mild allergic reaction, under close doctor supervision. (Benadryl allergy medicine is different from the Benadryl used to treat coughing and colds. )

Mild reactions that a doctor may want to treat with Benadryl include redness, itchiness, and hives concentrated in a single area of your baby’s body. 

As our Chief Allergist and Board Certified Allergist Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan explains, “Benadryl will help resolve mild symptoms of an allergic reaction. I only recommend Benadryl for infants who are having a mild allergic reaction, such as localized hives or redness.”

Under close doctor supervision, at the right age, and in the right dosage, Benadryl is safe for treating mild allergic reactions in babies.  But Benadryl is generally not safe to give to a child under 2 years at home, unless your doctor explicitly recommends a dosage. 

Recommended Usage for Benadryl In Babies: Only Infants Under 6 Months

Dr. Marks-Cogan reports that she only recommends liquid Benadryl for mild reactions in the youngest infants, due to its potential side effects. For older infants, children’s Zyrtec is a better choice.  “I usually only recommend Benadryl for infants and actually only recommend it for infants six months or younger,” explains Dr. Marks-Cogan. “For infants six months or older I usually recommend children’s Zyrtec, which is also an antihistamine. Benadryl is short-acting and can cause drowsiness or hyperactivity in some babies, so I prefer Zyrtec which creates more of a steady state and has fewer side effects.”

A Note About Severe Reactions and Anaphylaxis

Although antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec may help improve symptoms when your baby has a mild allergic reaction, these medications cannot stop severe allergic reactions or life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Epinephrine (an Epi-Pen) is the only medication that can stop anaphylaxis. This is why it’s important to have two Epi-Pens available for your food allergic child at all times, in case of an emergency.

Epinephrine (an Epi-Pen) is the only medication that can stop anaphylaxis.

As Dr. Marks-Cogan explains, “I only recommend Benadryl or Zyrtec for infants who are having a mild allergic reaction, such as localized hives or redness. Benadryl or Zyrtec will not stop anaphylaxis from happening---only epinephrine will. It’s an important thing to educate parents on, because many parents think that Benadryl will actually stop anaphylaxis, but that is not the case.”

“Benadryl or Zyrtec will not stop anaphylaxis from happening---only epinephrine will.”

Learn more about allergic reactions in infants from Pediatrician Dr. Shelly Flais from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): 

Liquid Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Dosage Chart: By Weight

The Benadryl dosage that a doctor will recommend to treat mild allergic reactions in a baby or young child depends on the child’s age and weight. Always follow the guidance and dosage recommendations of your doctor.

Always follow the guidance and dosage recommendations of your doctor.

Dosages shown here are for dye-free liquid children’s Benadryl, as suggested by Pediatric Associates NYC. As always, only use Benadryl with young children when your doctor recommends it.  Also, don’t give your baby other medications alongside Benadryl, unless your doctor recommends it.

Weight Recommended Dose
11 lb to 16 lb, 7 oz ½ tsp or 2.5 ml
16 lb, 8 oz to 21 lb, 15 oz ¾ tsp or 3.75 ml
22 lb to 26 lb, 7 oz 1 tsp or 5 ml
27 lb, 8 oz to 32 lb, 15 oz 1 ¼ tsp or 6.25 ml
33 lb to 37 lb, 7 oz 1 ½ tsp or 7.5 ml
37 lb, 8 oz to 43 lb, 15 oz 1 ¾ tsp or 8.75 ml


Using Benadryl Safely for Allergic Reactions: A Review

Here’s what parents should take away, to maximize safety when using Benadryl:

  • Only give your baby Benadryl if your doctor recommends it for your baby.
  • Only use Benadryl to treat a mild allergic reaction.
  • Always follow your doctor’s instructions and dosage recommendations when giving Benadryl.
  • Remember that Benadryl can’t treat anaphylaxis---only an Epi-Pen can.
  • Consider Zyrtec for babies over 6 months of age.
  • Don’t use Benadryl to make your baby sleepy.

Tips for Minimizing the Risk of an Allergic Reaction

How to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction? As Dr. Jonathan Spergel's recent research has shown, "severe FA (food allergy) reactions and mortality increase with age and are particularly low in infants, supporting early allergen oral introduction."

So, don't wait to introduce allergy-causing foods. Delaying the introduction of allergenic foods for a baby’s first 1-3 years of life can actually increase their food allergy risk. But starting introduction of peanut, egg, and milk before your baby turns one, and continuing to introduce them multiple times a week for several months, is the best way to minimize their risk of an allergic reaction 


All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Prevention of food allergies in children

And in the first year of a child's life, food allergies are the most common.

The leading risk factor for the development of allergies in a child is the presence of a burdened heredity in the family. If this is one of the parents, then the chances of getting sick and staying healthy in a child are approximately 50 x 50. At the same time, the likelihood of developing an allergy in a baby is much higher if female relatives are susceptible to it. If both mom and dad suffer from allergies, then the probability of an allergic reaction is already 75%.

A very important risk factor for the development of allergies is also the nutrition of the expectant mother during pregnancy . Excessive enthusiasm for allergenic products (for example, milk and dairy products), even if the mother herself is not allergic to them, can provoke the development of the disease in the baby both immediately after birth and also in the prenatal period.

Manifestations of allergies in young children

The main manifestations of allergies in children of the first year of life are dermatitis ( itching, redness, peeling, rash, scratching, dryness or weeping of the skin) and dyspepsia regurgitation, vomiting, loose stools or constipation, increased gas formation, abdominal pain. The baby becomes restless, naughty, often cries, as it seems, for no reason, eats and sleeps poorly. Very rarely, there may be a cough, the appearance of elements of urticaria on the skin, Quincke's edema - swelling of the eyelids, lips or the entire face, larynx. All these violations most often occur within 24-48 hours after the use of an allergenic product. But often the allergy "accumulates" in the child's body, while he eats food that is not suitable for him day after day. In this case, the disease is delayed and manifests itself within 5-7 days, gradually increasing.

Allergenic products

For children in the first six months of life who are on artificial and mixed feeding, allergens can be cow and goat milk proteins, soy protein (that is, adapted mixtures made on their basis).

Babies who are receiving complementary foods and older children may be allergic to more than obligate allergens ( citrus fruits, strawberries, strawberries, chicken eggs, fish, seafood and caviar, nuts, honey and other bee products, some spices, chocolate), but also quite ordinary products (chicken, veal, beef, wheat and rye flour, vegetables, buckwheat, etc. that do not cause hypersensitivity in other children. Currently, food colorings and flavor enhancers are becoming significant allergens , which are added in the industrial production of food and sweets

Food allergy: treatment or prevention?

Allergy is a chronic disease. Of course, allergies, like any other disease, can be treated . At the same time, it is impossible to completely cure allergies, but long-term remission can be achieved. Treatment is prescribed only by a doctor and includes the identification and removal of the causative allergen, diet, the use of antiallergic drugs, active external therapy using various ointments and creams.

The best thing to do, however, is to try to prevent your baby from developing food allergies. And you need to start prophylaxis more before pregnancy , having been examined by an allergist at the slightest suspicion of an allergy. Perhaps the expectant mother will need to take special medications that will prepare her immunity for the birth of a baby. During the period of expectation of the child , it is necessary to avoid not only foods that are unsuitable for the mother, but also to limit any allergenic foods. Today, these include not only traditional citrus fruits and strawberries, but also dairy products, gluten, eggs, fish, soy

Nutrition for mother and baby

After the birth of a baby , the prevention of food allergies consists of several components

When breastfeeding, nutrition of a nursing mother is very important. She should continue to follow the diet and avoid the allergenic foods mentioned above in her diet.

If the child is on artificial or mixed feeding, the following factors must be taken into account when selecting a mixture:
- The bulk of the mixtures are prepared on the basis of whole cow's milk, therefore, in fact, they are obviously ALLERGENIC
- Children at risk for the development of food allergies are prescribed preventive and even therapeutic mixtures in which whole cow protein is subject to partial or complete hydrolysis

- Cow and goat milk proteins are cross-allergic. Therefore, mixtures based on goat's milk are NOT INTENDED for therapeutic nutrition of children with food allergies.

A pediatrician, an allergist-immunologist will help you choose the right breast milk substitute suitable for a particular child. The sooner competent diet therapy is started, the sooner remission will come

You need to be very careful with the introduction of complementary foods .

For breast-fed babies, the introduction of new products is recommended after 6 months, and for formula-fed babies - from 4 months of age

It is better to start complementary foods with one-component vegetable purees. Each new product must be introduced gradually without mixing with others, starting with half a teaspoon, bringing to the required amount within a week. This should be done only if the child is absolutely healthy , choosing at the first stage food with a low degree of allergenicity (for example, zucchini, cauliflower, green apple, green pear, plum, rice, corn, turkey, pork, rabbit). In any case, the selection of an individual diet for a baby with a food allergy should be carried out by a pediatrician,

The development of a food allergy in a child largely depends on the parents. The sooner you start its prevention, the less the risk of unwanted reactions in the baby to various products. So, when the baby grows up, his diet will be richer and more varied.

We are waiting for you for a consultation with an experienced allergist-immunologist at the Clinic "Mother and Child" South-West

Food allergies in young children!

Food allergies in young children!

Every mother remembers the calm days of pregnancy, where you could eat various foods in your diet without dieting. The main table during pregnancy should be as balanced as possible, fortified and the necessary ratio of proteins, fats, carbohydrates. There comes a happy moment in life, this is the birth of a baby. Acquaintance of mother and child, caring for the baby, providing the necessary conditions for caring for the baby, as well as creating the most favorable conditions.

Very often, young parents face the first difficulties in the neonatal period (such as intestinal colic), in early childhood, such manifestations as rashes on the body, stool disorders (loose stools / constipation).

The most frequently asked questions of parents we will consider in this article:

  1. How does a food allergy manifest itself?
    2. What is the duration of manifestation of external signs?
    3. Is it worth giving up breastfeeding in favor of artificial (hydrolyzed and amino acid mixtures) or switching to goat's milk?
    4. Blood streaks in the stool: is it worth going to the infectious disease hospital for inpatient care?

Food allergy is a food-induced reaction that causes a pathological reaction based on immune mechanisms (specific IgE-mediated reactions, cellular immune response (non-IgE-mediated) or a combination of both - a mixed type reaction).

As a food allergen, there can be any substances, most often of a protein nature, that stimulate the production of IgE.

The most common foods that cause allergic reactions are cow's milk, chicken eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, seafood, wheat, soy, and beef.

The most significant allergen is Cow's milk protein, which according to clinical guidelines is 2-3% among infants. With age, tolerance develops in 80% of sick children, by the age of 6 years, the incidence decreases by less than 1%.
Any protein component of milk can cause sensitization, but most often: beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin and gamma globulin, alpha-casein and beta-casein.

Food allergy is a symptom complex of diseases and is not a nosological diagnosis.
Therefore, the clinical and etiological significance of food allergy is taken into account, it is included in the full clinical diagnosis after the designation of the nosological form.

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Allergic urticaria
  • Allergic gastroenteritis and colitis

Laboratory diagnostics:

  • IgE (sIgE) - immunoglobulin E, specific immunoglobulin

The main function of IgE is to provide an individual immune response of the body to the introduction of an irritant (antigen) with a certain biological activity

  • Food panel

In case of food allergy in young children, manifestations in the form of constant itching (typical for any age period), skin syndrome are more common. Atopic dermatitis in young children is infancy, during this period the exudative form of the disease predominates. The clinical picture is represented by erythematous spots, papules, vesicles on the forehead, cheeks, scalp, accompanied by intense itching, swelling, weeping. Pronounced red dermographism. Most often, rashes are localized on the extensor and flexor surfaces of the limbs.

The duration of rashes depends on the timely start of treatment, as well as the complete exclusion of allergens (food). In children of the first year of life, the most common allergen is cow's milk protein.
Breastfed infants develop a clinically significant allergy to CMP due to the passage of dietary proteins into breast milk. I often see surprise in the eyes of young mothers and the rejection of the recommendation to exclude cow's milk protein. Counter questions: what exactly to use in the diet for mom? Dear mothers, a balanced diet for a nursing mother should be varied, complete and as natural as possible. The use of cereals (rice, buckwheat, corn, oatmeal, etc.), soups, meat products (turkey, chicken, pork), quail or chicken eggs, green fruits, etc. Therefore, the absence of whole cow's milk will not affect your menu variety in any way.

Should I stop breastfeeding?

Indeed, mothers often ask such questions. My answer is no! Breastfeeding is the key to the full development of the child. Only in the case when breastfeeding is impossible (complete hypogalactia of the mother, impossibility of breastfeeding due to congenital diseases (example: congenital malformation of cleft lip and palate), the presence of chronic infectious diseases in the mother are life-threatening for the child.

In the case where it is not possible to store the GW. The recommendations use hydrolyzed mixtures, or amino acids!
Hypoallergenic mixtures do not belong to clinical nutrition, they are prescribed only for children prone to developing allergies (taking into account history and heredity).
Soy Blend is also not a health food and can cause a cross reaction!

Switching to goat's milk is not the smart way. Since in this case, goat milk can act as a cross-allergen, causing cross-allergic reactions in patients with an allergy to CMP, and is an independent allergen, causing severe reactions in patients who are tolerant to cow's milk. And also the main allergens of milk practically do not lose their biological activity after boiling, pasteurization, ultra-high temperature treatment.

Blood streaks in the stool: is it worth going to the infectious disease hospital for inpatient care?

Gastrointestinal manifestations are manifestations of the digestive organs. Food allergies are not only when there are rashes on the body. An allergen that passes through the gastrointestinal tract can cause dyspeptic manifestations (regurgitation, intestinal colic, abdominal pain, vomiting, blood streaks in the stool). Such children very often end up in an infectious diseases hospital.

Learn more