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In his song Lullaby, Tim Minchin sings:

Your nappy is dry and your tummy is full
Of enough antihistamine to chill out a bull
Yet still all this gringing

According to Wikipedia, antihistamines are used against allergies.

So, why is there antihistamine in his baby's tummy and why is it supposed to make her sleepy?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This song most likely refers to an off-label (and usually inappropriate) use for certain antihistamines like Benadryl. They are sometimes used by parents to sedate their children, functioning through the exact physiological mechanisms @Chris describes. Parents use it inappropriately as a means of behavioral control for active or upset children to make them more docile or sleepy, such as for airplane rides, etc. It's not recommended by most pediatricians, because even though adverse (bad) side effects are usually rare, it is an actual medication with another primary mechanism of action having effects on many body functions, not a medication designed as a sedative.

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my mom totally used this method on me and my siblings lol –  caseyr547 May 3 at 5:39

This is not only happening in babies... In short (I will look for some references later and edit the post) the antihistamines are effective in the whole body and block the histamines there. The antihistamines which cross the blood-brain barrier do the same in the brain and hinder the small amounts of histamines which stimulate the nerve cells there from doing so. This results in the typical sleepyness.

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