As a parent myself, I understand the frustration with trying to get kids to bed. My kids are a little older now, but I remember the days when they were infants and rumor had it you could help them fall asleep and stay asleep by giving them a little bit of cough and cold medicine. These over-the-counter meds are famous for the antihistamine diphenhydramine, a prime ingredient marketed for making people drowsy.
But it appears drugs based on this antihistamine don't affect children the same way they affect adults. New evidence shows that such drugs actually have no effect on sleep or even cold-related symptoms in children. A 2006 study found that diphenhydramine does not facilitate sleep in infants and that it may actually keep them awake. When researchers also looked at whether the drugs were even helping to alleviate cold symptoms, they found no improvements.
So what can a parent do? Try another drug? Double up on the dose? Not so fast. While I empathize with moms and dads who struggle to get their own good night's sleep, let alone have to deal with restless, crying kids in the middle of the night, I think the time has come to focus on what you can do naturally to lull them to sleep. If you think your child has an underlying condition that's preventing them from falling asleep, then by all means get your pediatrician to chime in with an examination.
But for the vast majority of parents who are over-worked and over-stressed (ahem: looking for the quick fix), I'd venture to guess a lot could be achieved if you just help them develop good sleep practices and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
And maybe, just maybe, a reading of Good Night Moon will help do the trick, too.