Tips for Medication Safety with Kids

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It is definitely cold and flu season. So many of my friends and family members have been sick already, we are just trudging along, trying to avoid sickness. The boys are both loving berries right now…blueberries and blackberries specifically…and they love to take their vitamins and drink orange juice, so that's a start. We're trying to keep our hands washed, which is difficult when it's so cold and our hands are dry, but we're trying!

But what happens when our kids DO get sick? We turn to medicine to help ease the symptoms of the common cold or to cure strep throat. I know there are many differing opinions on giving kids medicine. I have some friends who avoid antibiotics and other medications at all costs. I believe you have to weigh the pros and cons of each medicine and, along with your doctor, make the best choice for each child. But when you make that decision, here are some tips to keep in mind to be safe when giving your child medication:

  • Read the label.  This is obvious, but important for so many reasons.  You must know the amount to give (for weight, NOT for age) and time in between doses.
  • Read the ENTIRE label.  A friend of mine recently said that she saw some cold medicine that was "for ages 4 and up" but when she looked at the back, it said "consult a doctor" for age 4 and then gave appropriate dosing for ages 6 and up.  Misleading labels are everywhere and we as parents have to go the extra mile to read the entire label and spend the extra time to keep our kids safe.
  • Check for allergens before you buy the medicine.  The Captain is allergic to penicillin and while our doctor is good at checking when prescribing antibiotics, I still double check before buying the medicine, especially if it is a new medicine.
  • Follow the rules.  If the label says "not for kids under 4" do NOT give them the medicine without strict instructions from a healthcare professional.  There is a reason for that warning label and though it is rare, accidents do happen.
  • Keep a log.  When we were houseparents at a children's home, we were required to write down every medication we gave to the kids, whether it was OTC or prescribed.  Of course we didn't like this chore, but it was necessary when you had eight boys in the house.  We could also go back and check to see the time we gave it and this also made us check the label for appropriate dosing.  I'll admit that I don't keep a good log and there are times I second guess myself.  Just jot down the time and amount given and you'll thank yourself when it's 2 AM and you're brain is foggy.
  • Make sure the entire dose is taken.  This is a hard one.  Even when the medicine is "flavored," it oftentimes doesn't taste good, especially when you're sick, but it's essential.  And if some spills on the floor, don't try to guess and make up for it because you could overdose.  Call a pharmacist to know what exactly to do.  If you need some tips, check out this post for getting your sick kids to cooperate.
  • Homeopathic is not always safe.  I have friends that have completely stopped using any and all medicines that aren't homeopathic.  This is completely fine and a personal choice.  The boys and I have been taking homeopathic cold and cough medicine and it really does work.  I like it because it doesn't make me absolutely crazy because I'm highly sensitive to medicines and their side effects.  Homeopathic medicines also are some of the only medications you can give to younger children safely…BUT…and I cringe when I hear people say that they feel safe having homeopathic medicines around the house because they can't hurt kids.  Homeopathics are safe when given appropriately, but we must not become lax and think that if our kid drinks a half of a bottle of homeopathic cough medicine or gobbles up a container of homeopathic teething tablets that they are "fine."  And sometimes, they are not tested or regulated like other OTC medicines, so just please, please be careful when administering homeopathics and other medicines.
  • Properly dispose of all unused medication.  If medication is expired or not needed, check out the link for how to properly dispose of it!  This helps keep not only the kids in your family safe, but other kids and adults, as well.
  • Stay up to date with any and all medication recalls with RecallsPlus.  Instantly be notified of medication recalls!

Do you have any other safety tips for kids and medicines?

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Comments

  1. This is so helpful. Thank you!!

  2. What great tips. I need to empty out my medicine cabinet soon!

  3. I am so glad to see you included keeping a log. As busy parents, it’s so easy for us to lose track of time and doses administered.

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