How to give medicine to children

Getting sick is never fun – but as adults, we can handle it, mostly, but when our children get sick, the feeling of helplessness often borders on despair, especially when they are toddlers or very young. Of course, we have medicine we can give them, but that can be trying and quite scary at times, particularly for the kids. Here are some tips to assist you when giving your kids medicine.

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist

Before giving medication to your young ones make sure to speak to a doctor or pharmacist. Newborns, in particular, can be very susceptible to the wrong medication or wrong dosage so you want to make sure you are giving them the right medicine and measurement.

Read the packaging

Even though you have spoken to a professional, make sure you give the right dosage. Read all packaging and make sure to measure accurately. This is particularly important when administering medication to children under 12 months; multiple accidental poisonings have occurred in Australia in this manner. Be very careful and make sure that if you leave your infant in the hands of a carer that they

know exactly how much and how often to give the prescribed medication.

Dosage – age and weight

It’s important to remember that all kids are different and medication should be administered according to their age and weight. A small six months old and large six months old will require different dosages. This is most important when using over the counter medication, and makes reading the labels as mentioned above doubly important.

Keep records

One way to make sure you are not overdosing your child is to keep a record. We all live busy lives and often forget when last we gave our youngsters medication. Once again this applies even more so when you have a carer who looks after your young one/s.

Make sure that every time you give your child medicine that you note the name of the medication, the dosage, the active ingredient and the time and date. Make sure the carer does the same.

While writing it down is simple enough there are a number of apps which can also help you remember. Try the MedicineWise smartphone app for starters.

Forewarned is forearmed

The best advice we can offer is to be prepared. Don’t wait for your little ones to get sick and then start scrambling around for information and measuring devices. Remember it’s often in the middle of the night when that sad sound of a sick child crying wakes you from your deep slumber, and you want to be ready.

Know your child’s weight, it’s no fun trying to weigh a sick kid in the middle of the night or any time for that matter. Know where your medication is kept, make sure it has not expired and know where your measuring utensils are. Have your family doctor’s number on hand or an all-night pharmacy’s number that you can call if you need advice or emergency medication.

Oral medications and vomiting

 In Australia the majority of children’s medicine used for fever and pain are sold in liquid form, by contrast in France and England a more common preparation of children’s analgesia is in suppository form. This ensures the medicine is absorbed rapidly without the risk of a child spitting it out or vomiting it up.  Paracetamol suppositories are available over the counter without prescription. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how to use suppositories for children.

Inhaled medication   

 Puffers or inhalers are occasionally prescribed by your doctor for children with asthma or other respiratory conditions.  It is important to always use a spacer device (including mask for children under 5) to aid in the delivery of the medication to your child’s lungs. It can often be quite frightening for children struggling to breath to have a mask or spacer device forced over their mouth in times of panic.  Try to let your children play with the spacer and mask when they are well, familiarise them with the devices and even make it into a game when they are not scared.  This will make it much easier to use the medicine with a spacer and or mask when they are unwell.

 Prevention is better than cure

While most medicines certainly work, they can also be dangerous if they fall into the hands of your young kids.

Keep all medication well out of reach of your children.

Don’t let them see you take your medication.

Throw away all expired medication, not just into your home bin, but far from kids’ prying eyes and hands. You can even take them to a special safe disposal place, like your local pharmacy.

Make sure you have an emergency number on hand should the need arise. This applies in particular if you think you may have overdosed your kid.

The Poisons Information Centre’s number is 13 11 26

Finally, rather be safe than sorry. If you think you might have erred in giving your child the wrong medication, or too much, check with a medical professional, even if your child is not yet showing any symptoms. Lastly, if you need advice, rather speak to a professional, no matter what time it is. Do not rely on the internet for your medical advice.