The right way to give your child medicine

You’d prefer your little ones never get sick, so you’d never have to give them medication. But sickness and medications are a reality of parenting. How can you make sure you’re giving them medication the safest way possible?

When your kids are sick, you logically want to get them the medication they need quickly to help them feel better faster. But being careful is important.

The biggest key for safe medication use? Don’t just grab the kitchen spoon when dispensing liquid medicine to your kids.

Every year, more than 70,000 kids end up in the emergency room because of medication overdose. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and other caregivers only use metric dosing devices to dispense medications.

That means no kitchen spoons and no measuring spoons—only devices that were created to dispense medications.

Oral medications should be dispensed in milliliters, not in teaspoons. You should receive instructions with each medication that identify a dose in mLs, such as 5 mLs every four hours. You’ll want to carefully measure that dosage out using a syringe, dropper, dosing cup or dosage spoon that includes increments of milliliters.

This will help limit the risk of accidental medication overdose, and help ensure your child gets just the dose needed to feel better.

Read on for a few more tips about kids and medications.

• Skip the cough and cold medications. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration found that these medications can cause severe complications and even death in small children.

Because of this, manufacturers removed cough and cold medications that contained decongestants or antihistamines and were intended for children younger than age 2 from the shelves. Still, it’s important to be cautious when using these medications even in children older than age 2.

Because cough and cold medication formulas often include more than one medication, accidental overdose becomes more likely. The AAP recommends instead treating individual symptoms, using over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever or aches, nasal spray for a stuffy nose, and a vaporizer to help loosen congestion.

If your child doesn’t like the taste, bypass the taste buds. Have a little one who just can’t stand the taste of a medication?

Use a syringe to dispense the medication instead of a spoon. With the syringe, squirt the medication down the sides of your little one’s cheeks. Because the medication stays off the tongue, the taste shouldn’t be a factor.

• Find the right type of medication for your child. At a certain age, your child may tire of liquid medications. Many common medications, including antibiotics, come in multiple forms.

If your child doesn’t like liquids, ask your doctor for a chewable medication. Or, if your child has progressed to regular pills, go with that formula. You want to find the type of medication that your child is most likely to take easily.

Dealing with a sick little one and need a pediatrician? Find one here.