Medication can help ease a child’s aches and pains, but you should know a few things before you pop open a bottle. Whether your child needs prescription or non-prescription medicine, any medicine can be very dangerous to a child if not taken properly. Parents need to read and understand all instructions before giving any medication to a child.
Here are a few guidelines to safely give your child medication at home.
- Measure the dose exactly with the measuring cup or syringe that comes with the medication. If the original syringe or cup is not available, you can buy a medication syringe over the counter. If you are measuring a teaspoon dose, it is important to use a measuring teaspoon. Regular tableware teaspoons are not accurate and should not be used. Also, pay close attention to how often the medication can be given and if there is a limit of dosages that should be given in one day. Never play doctor and double the dose just because your child seems sicker than last time.
- Some medications are only available in one concentration. However, you may encounter a medication where more than one concentration is available. It is important to always check the label and not assume all medications are created equal. The concentration will read mg per ml (or mg/ml).
- Sometimes it is tough to decide when to give medication if your child is experiencing cold symptoms. Keep in mind that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications are not recommended for young children. The risks of using these medicines outweigh any benefits, and the side effects can be serious in young children. These medications are safe to use after your child turns 6, if you follow the package instructions. Also, pay close attention to the ingredients in the medications you are giving your child. Some OTC cold medications contain acetaminophen(Tylenol®), which could result in your child receiving double doses of acetaminophen if taken alongside regular Tylenol.
- Keep a record of the medications you give your child along with times given, and share this information with any caregiver.
- Try to keep track of your child’s weight from the last visit to the pediatrician. The most accurate dose of medication is based on your child’s weight. If you’re unsure of what dose to give your child or if a medication is safe for your child, call your child’s pediatrician or a pharmacist.