Down The Hatch - What You Need To Know About Giving Your Child Medicine
When it comes to medication, it’s important to remember that your child is not a ‘little adult’. They can be more sensitive and respond differently to medication than an adult. Talk to your community pharmacist, they are an easily accessible and helpful resource when you need to know how to administer the correct dose of medication; what medicines you can combine; how to store medicine safely; and how to get a reluctant child to take the medication they’ve been prescribed.
Always keep these guidelines in mind:
- Never give more of any medicine than it says on the package for your child’s age and weight and make sure you accurately measure the correct amount. Be sure to use the spoon, cup, or syringe provided with the medication rather than any kitchen spoon.
- Know your child’s weight and if they are overweight or underweight for their age, confirm the dose with your pharmacist.
- Speak to your pharmacist about any other medication you are giving your child to avoid giving interacting or similar medicines that can cause adverse effects.
- Do not give children Aspirin as it has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a serious condition that causes swelling in the brain and liver damage.
- Keep a record of any medications given to your child to avoid dosage errors, especially if they are at daycare or being cared for by different people. Ask your pharmacist about dose administration aids that can ensure the correct amount is taken at the correct time.
- For children with asthma, make sure your child knows how to use their inhaler and spacer correctly. Your community pharmacist can check your child’s asthma technique and advise them on the best times to take their medication and how to avoid potential side effects.
- Don’t give your child expired medication or another child’s prescription. You can return unused or expired medication to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
- Store medication out of reach of children and check whether the medication needs to be stored in the fridge or a cool dry area (not the bathroom) and away from food and drink.
- Read the labels on the medication carefully. If it says to shake the bottle before giving it to your child, it’s important that you do this to ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed and your child doesn’t get too much or too little. If it says ‘three times a day’ then you should give the medication during your child’s waking hours. If the label says ‘every six hours’ then clarify with your pharmacist whether that means you should wake your child to ensure they get the medication around the clock. With antibiotics, the label will often say to ‘complete the course’ and it’s essential to do this even if your child is feeling better. Also remember to follow directions about whether the medication should be given on an empty stomach or with food.
- Check with your pharmacist before crushing any pills or dissolving them in water. Some pills have a protective coating and they are designed to slowly release the medication.
- You should never refer to medication as ‘lollies’ or juice. It’s important that you child understands that medication will make them feel better, but should be treated with care. Be positive and give your child lots of cuddles afterwards.