Kids and medicine: Measure up a safe dose

March 1, 2017

When your little one is sick, you naturally want to help him or her feel better—which may mean iStock-518023438.jpgdispensing a dose of medicine (along with some hugs).

Before you give a child medicine, however, it's important to remember this: Kids aren't miniature adults. What works for you, may not be right for a child.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Ask first. Talk with a doctor or a pharmacist before giving a child medicine for the first time. And if he or she is taking any other medications or has ever had a reaction to medicine, be sure to let the doctor or pharmacist know. Ditto if you have any questions or concerns.

Check and recheck. Read the label each time you give a child medicine. Use the dosage chart to confirm the dose and how often to give the medicine.

If possible, dose according to the child's weight. Otherwise, go by the child's age. Some medicines don't give dosing information for children younger than 2 years. In that case, contact your child's doctor for instructions.

Don't give a child more than the recommended dose. It won't help the child feel better faster, and it could be dangerous. Call the child's doctor if the regular dose doesn't seem to be helping.

Use the right meds and tools. Never give adult medicine to kids. Always use the medicine dropper or dose cup that came with the medicine—or ask the doctor or pharmacist for a measuring device that lists both teaspoons and milliliters. Don't use a teaspoon from the kitchen drawer—it won't be the proper measurement, and you could end up giving too much or too little medicine.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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