How to take Diphenhydramine. Do not give diphenhydramine to a child younger than 2 years old. Always ask a doctor before giving a cough or cold medicine to a child. Death can occur from the misuse of cough and cold medicines in very young children. You should not use diphenhydramine to make a child sleepy. For motion sickness, take diphenhydramine 30 minutes before you will be in a situation that causes you motion sickness (such as a long car ride, airplane or boat travel, amusement park rides, etc). Continue taking diphenhydramine with meals and at bedtime for the rest of the time you will be in a motion-sickness situation. As a sleep aid, take diphenhydramine within 30 minutes before bedtime.