Tips for Giving Pediatric Medications to Kids

Giving pediatric medications to children who are sick is not a simple task. Parents should discuss any medication with their pediatrician before giving it to their child.

  • Ask about benefits or possible side effects.
  • Know your child's weight and age, since dosage is often dependent on these parameters.
  • Read and follow the instructions on the package.
  • Never measure the dosage of medicine with items such as kitchen teaspoons, which may not be accurate. Use a measured dosage spoon available at pharmacies.
  • Never give medicine to a baby who is lying down. This could cause choking.
  • Write down the time and amount of each dose given.

Often, children are less than cooperative when it comes to taking medicine. The following tips will make the task more manageable.

With Babies:

  • Use a medicine dropper and squirt liquid on the inside of the cheek.
  • Mix medicine with food to improve the taste.
  • Ask if the medicine is available in a concentrated form so you can give less.

With Older Children:

  • Plan medicine-dosing time between activities rather than interrupting play.
  • Explain to your child that he or she has an illness and needs to take the medicine to feel better.
  • Refer to a favorite TV or story character and say, "If Elmo had a sore throat, he'd take this medicine."
  • Play a game or read a special book when you give medication.
  • Never tell children that any medicine is candy.
  • Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist if the medicine is available in liquid or chewable form.
  • Also, ask if the tablets can be crushed or capsules sprinkled and mixed into food such as applesauce. (This is not recommended for some time-release medications.)
  • Chill liquid medicine, which may improve the flavor.
  • Encourage your child's involvement when possible. Perhaps your child could flick the nebulizer "on" switch, place the filled medicine spoon independently into his mouth, dump the medicine granules onto her applesauce or decide if medicine comes before or after dinner.

Ask your physician exactly how much flexibility is OK in giving medicine. For example, three puffs of an inhaler twice a day is often just as good as two puffs, three times a day.

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