Things to remember when giving medicine to children

Children are more complicated than adults when it comes to medicine and not just because they are smaller. Children’s bodies react differently to the medications used to treat them. What’s more, many drugs cause reactions in the developing bodies of children that do not affect adults in the same way – and some of these reactions can be dangerous.

It’s important not to give children too much or too little medicine and it is also important to adjust the dosage depending on the child’s weight. Always follow the directions on pack and if you have any questions, contact your doctor.

The first thing to remember when giving your children medication is to only give medicine when it’s really necessary. Your doctor or other healthcare professional is your best guide for this. Often, providing home treatment, while letting a minor illness “run its course” is the best thing for a child. You can help by making sure they get plenty of rest and fluids and taking steps to make them more comfortable.


Important tips for giving medicine to kids Most medicines are only safe and effective if taken at certain intervals and in specific dosages. If your doctor prescribes medicine or recommends over-the-counter medicine for your child, there are some important things to remember.


Keep all medicines out of sight and reach of children. Also, ask for child-safe packaging from the pharmacist for prescription medication, and only remove a medicine from its packaging when you are ready to take it, don’t leave tablets lying around where children can easily pick them up.


Dosage. The correct dosage for over-the-counter medication depends on the child’s body weight, so be sure your doctor and pharmacist know how much your child weighs.


Directions. Make sure you know – and understand – the directions for how much medicine to give a child, how often to give it, and the length of the course. If a child is taking more than one kind of medicine, check the labels on each one to make sure the child isn’t getting the same active ingredient from more than one product. If there are multiple caregivers, make sure everyone knows when and how much medicine a child has been given to avoid doubling up on doses or missing a dose.


Reactions/side effects. Find out the possible side effects for the medicine before you start giving it to your child. This information can usually be found on a package or a package leaflet, or ask your pharmacist to explain what to watch out for.


Interactions. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know what other medicine your child is taking, including any herbal or complementary medicines.


Finish the course – if so directed. Antibiotics, for example, need to be completely finished, even if your child acts better before they finish the prescription. This is because any remaining bacteria can begin to multiply again, and the illness can return, if the full course of antibiotics is not taken. If your doctor or pharmacist says to take it all –take it all.


Only their own. Never give a child anyone else’s medicine. Even with the same illness, different people need and respond to different medication. Only your doctor knows what is best.


Measure correctly. If the recommended dose on a package is in a different unit (e.g. tablespoons, teaspoons, milliliters) than the spoon or syringe you have, don’t try to convert it. Don’t use any tool other than a measuring device that comes with the medicine or one that is recommended by a doctor or pharmacist. Also, don’t use the measuring device from one medicine to measure a different medicine. Your pharmacist can often provide precisely-marked spoons and syringes just for giving medicines.


Don’t use out-of-date medicines. Before giving a child any medicine, check the expiration date and do not administer it if it has expired. All expired medicines should be disposed of in a responsible manner. Always read and follow the instructions on the label carefully.

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