6 Important Things to Remember When Giving Medicine to Your Baby
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  • Giving kids too much or too little medicine can lead to serious side effects. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2016 showed that four out of five parents unintentionally give their child the wrong dosage of medication with some giving twice as much!

    Here are tips from Dr. Clair McCarthy, a pediatrician and editor for Harvard Health Publishing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, KidsHealth, and BabyCenter how to safely give your child medicine.

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    1. Get all the info and details right
    When your child’s doctor prescribes medication, make sure you have all the information you need before you leave. Things you should clarify when your child is given a prescription include: 

    • What the medicine is for exactly (or why your child has to take it)
    • How many days/weeks your child has to take the medicine
    • How many times a day he has to take it (would your child have to be woken up at night, for example, if the medicine is “every six hours”)
    • What the proper dosage is (ask for dosing in mL as much as possible, clarify any decimal points, etc.) 
    • If the medicine has any possible side effects
    • What you should do if you miss giving your child a dose
    • If your child has to eat before taking the medicine
    • If the medicine needs to be kept in the fridge

    Even for medicines you can buy over-the-counter, you should still consult your child’s doctor for advice. There are seemingly safe medication that should not be given to children such as aspirin and cough and cold medicines (unless prescribed by a doctor). Inform the doctor of your child’s allergies as well, if any.  

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    2. Don’t use a spoon from your kitchen drawer for your baby
    “Spoons come in many different sizes and are not precise enough to measure a child's medication. For infants and toddlers, a small error — especially if repeated for multiple doses — can quickly become toxic,” says Dr. Ian Paul, a pediatrician and a lead author of children's medicine dosage guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

    3. Use the right tools and don't estimate
    The proper tools include are a medicine dropper, dosage cup, dosage spoon, and oral syringe. These often come with the medication you’re buying, but it’s always good practice to check if one is included before leaving the pharmacy. 

    Check as well that the tool has measurements for the dose the doctor has prescribed. If the dosage cup has measurements for 5 mL and 10 mL but the prescription calls for 7.5 mL, don’t guess! Buy an oral syringe or dosage cup that has your needed measurements. 

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    4. Double check every time
    At the drugstore, read the label of the medicine you’ve just bought.  Is it the same as the one the doctor prescribed and right for your child’s age? (Infant drops can be more concentrated, for example, and should not be given to older children.) 

    When it’s time to give your child his medicine, see if the bottle needs to be shaken and double check the dose you’re supposed to give him. When you’ve poured it out, check the dosage again. 

    5. Prescription for antibiotics should be strictly followed
    Always follow the doctor’s prescription. When it comes to antibiotics, don’t stop halfway through the number of days instructed. According to Mayo Clinic, “full treatment is necessary to kill the disease-causing bacteria. Failure to take an antibiotic as prescribed can result in the need to resume treatment later and may promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant properties among harmful bacteria.” 

    6. Observe and don’t hesitate to consult again
    Is your child getting better? “If it seems like you've been giving your child medicine for a long time but aren't getting anywhere, check the directions,” said BabyCenter. “If his symptoms aren't getting any better, continuing beyond the recommended time limit won't do him any good. At that point, it's probably time to talk to his doctor.”

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