Lawsuit: Children given Benadryl at Lynnwood day care

Parents sued Little Hands Big Hearts Early Learning alleging their kids were given “purple candy” at nap time.


LYNNWOOD — Six parents filed a lawsuit against a Lynnwood-based day care last month, alleging staff gave their children Benadyrl to get them to fall asleep.

In September, the state Department of Children, Youth and Families shut down the day care, Little Hands Big Hearts Early Learning, according to the lawsuit filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

That month, two parents arrived at the day care to pick up their children. The kids were waking up from a nap. One of them told the parents that a different child, “spits out his purple medicine at nap time,” according to the lawsuit.

The parents asked their children about the medicine. The children confirmed they received purple candy at nap time, the complaint said. The mother reached out to other parents whose children attended the day care and found out their children also get dark purple medicine every day.

The parents reported the daycare to the Department of Social and Health Services. On Sept. 22, the department launched an investigation into owner Shanine Sunshine Lofton and Little Hands. The department shut down Little Hands that day, pending its investigation.

Lofton and her co-owner were listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office was also investigating Lofton and Little Hands, said sheriff’s office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe.

According to the lawsuit, the children tested positive for high levels of diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl, an allergy relief medication which caused drowsiness as a side effect. The children reportedly would be given Benadryl to make them sleepy.

Benadryl is an older allergy medication, introduced in 1940. Diphenhydramine is associated with significant and common side effects, including sedation, decreased cognitive function, dizziness and low blood pressure, according to a 2019 study from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The drug was found to result in death from accidents, intentional or unintentional overdoses and sudden cardiac death.

Benadryl is not recommended for toddlers to use the medication unless directed by a doctor.

Lofton and her co-owner also spanked at least one of the children, the lawsuit claims.

Lofton’s attorney, Jim Johanson, said it was “too early” in the case for him to respond. Lofton was unable to comment on the case, Johanson said.

The day care was listed as temporarily closed on Yelp, with a scheduled reopening Jan. 1.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @snocojon.

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