While tranquilizers may ease a mother's frayed nerves, strong drugs were also used on children, even infants, in early Victorian England. During the Industrial Revolution, working parents could not afford to lose any sleep, so drugging their children into sleeping through the night was an acceptable way to avoid missing work. Although the Irish typically opposed using opiates to quiet their children, they usually had no problem using alcohol instead.

In the late 1700s to early 1800s, the British were quite fond of parenting by morphine, especially since it was relatively cheap, about what cough syrup costs today. Morphine-based solutions intended to be used on children were sold under brand names like "Mother's Helper", "Infant's Quietness", "Atkinson's Preservative", "Dalby's Carminative", "Soothing Syrup", and "Godfrey's Cordial", among countless others.

Godfrey's Cordial, a simple mixture of morphine and treacle, was particulary sinister, since it had a tendency to separate after time, with the morphine sinking to the bottom. Pharmacies sold Godfrey's Cordial out of large jugs to any adult or child who wanted some, so anyone who bought the last few doses from the jug were probably getting straight morphine. Kids got so addicted to it that infants would recognize the distinctive bottle of Godfrey's Cordial and doggedly chew the cork off. Older children who were sent to the chemist to buy a week's supply would often drink it all before they made it home.