Few things are worse than watching your child suffer with illness or pain. Medicine can help, but only if it’s given correctly. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have some practical advice for using medications safely.
Follow directions exactly. Giving medicine in larger doses or more often than prescribed can be harmful.
Know your abbreviations. Pay close attention to recommended dosage amounts. “TBSP” is a tablespoon; “T” or “TSP” is a teaspoon.
Weigh in. Read the label to make sure the dosage is appropriate for your child based on his weight rather than his age.
Stay on schedule. Don’t skip a dose to let your child sleep or because he’s fussy. Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist what to do if you miss a dose.
Finish it all. Make sure your child takes all his prescription medication, even if he starts feeling better or doesn’t like it.
Turn on the light. Giving your child medicine in a darkened room increases the risk of giving him the wrong dose or even the wrong medicine.
Watch him take it. This is no time for toddler independence. Give your child the exact dosage and stay with him until he swallows it. Don’t leave medications within his reach.
Don’t call it candy. Many children’s medications are flavored to make them pleasant tasting. Don’t confuse him into thinking it’s okay to eat it like candy.
Use the children’s formula. Never give your child medications labeled only for adults.
Check the ingredients. If your child is taking more than one medication, read the labels to make sure they don’t contain the same or similar active ingredients such as a decongestant. Too much could be dangerous.
Use the right measuring cup or spoon. Use only the measuring device that comes with the medicine or one made specifically for measuring drugs. Skip the household spoons; they’re not the same size and could result in the wrong dosage.