In discussing our recent longhaul travels, I've been a little freaked out by how many people mention drugs. A guy in the row behind us: "Good job, whadja give her?" A flight attendant: "I always use Dimetapp." Another: "On the Stockholm flight, the parents'd just soak a cloth in vodka and let'em chew on it. Worked every time."
How'd our modern culture become so drug-dependent, I wondered? Am I doing something wrong by not stringing my kid along with OTC's until she's old enough for her first Ritalin prescription?
Then I found History House's wild account of widespread use of opium for children in 19th century England. [The page is actually titled "Caffeine and Opium-- for Babies," but, don't worry; no one's feeding kids caffeine. I mean, they're not crazy. Right?]
Some of the opium-based baby solutions cited in an 1843 report for British Parliament included:
Dalby's Carminative [for those gas-inducing bad humours]
Godfrey's Cordial got special mention for its distinctive, narrow-necked bottle, which kids quickly learned to identify. Said one chemist in the report, "I have seen little children in the shop put the neck of the bottle in their mouths and bite the cork, so fond are they of the preparation."
And parents were fond of it, too. So fond they'd dope their kids up so they could go to work, then dope'em up again at night, so the parents could sleep.