In their role as primary caregivers, parents are responsible for the health of their children. Your infant, toddler or teen may be required to take an Over-The-Counter or prescription medicine for many reasons such as dealing with the common cold to the management of more chronic and complicated ailments.
Despite the fact that medications can make children feel better, they can also be harmful especially when they are not used properly. Knowing how and when to use medicines for children is an important part of maintaining their health.
Here are some tips for parents administering medication to children
- Make it a point to consult a doctor whenever you are unsure about your child’s symptoms.
- Dispense the specific medication to your children. Never give them medicines meant for adults.
- Always use the measuring device that comes with the medicine when dispensing liquid medications such as cough syrups.
- Don’t equate medicines to sweets. While this entices children into taking their medication, it could also tempt them into trying out the medication on their own.
- Store all medicines out of children’s reach. Make sure medication is not visible and accessible to your children as they could accidentally ingest it, creating situations that could result in panic or hospitalization.
- Know your child’s weight. It is important to be aware of this statistic as some prescription and Over-The-Counter medications prioritize weight over the age of the patient.
Set a good example for proper and safe medicine use
Parents set examples, knowingly or unknowingly. Children will therefore learn by watching you and this calls for medication to be treated with care and only when the need arises. Let your children know that medicine should always be given by an adult and that it is not something they should take themselves.
Considerations when selecting the right Over-The-Counter medication for your children
As a parent, it can sometimes be overwhelming to pick the right over-the-counter medicine for a sick child. In addition to the tips above, special considerations for Over-The-Counter use in children include:
- Select a medicine that treats only your child’s specific symptoms. For example, you may not need a multi-symptom cold medicine if your child only has a cough.
- Don’t use oral cough and cold medicines with children younger than 4.
- Never use medicines to make your child sleepy.
- Do not give your child multiple medications that contain the same ingredient. For example, some fever reducers (acetaminophen, for example) are also often in OTC cold and flu medicines.
- Check the dosing directions to make sure the medicine is appropriate for your child’s age or weight.
Read and follow the “Drug Facts” label carefully for information on the medicine’s dosage, warnings, whether it is appropriate for children, and other essential information for the safe use of the medicine.1