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Administering Children's Medication

How to Administer Children's Medications Safely

Many of today's nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are safe and effective treatments. And they are serious medicines – no less so for children than adults. With that in mind, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working with manufacturers of OTC drugs, developed this important advice for parents.

1. Never guess on the amount of medicine given. Kids aren't just small adults: Half an adult dose may be more than your child needs – or not enough to help.

2. Always check for the proper dose. Read the label – every time.

3. Know the abbreviations for tablespoon (Tbsp, T) and teaspoon (Tsp, t). Don't confuse them.

4. Avoid making conversions. If the label says two teaspoons and you're using a dosing cup with ounces only, get another measuring device.

5. Never play doctor. Twice the dose is not appropriate just because your child seems twice as sick as last time.

6. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before giving two medicines at the same time.

7. Always follow the age-limit recommendations. If the label says don't give to children under two, don't do it. Call your doctor.

8. Always use the child-resistant cap, and re-lock the cap after each use.

9. Heed the "keep out of reach" warning. We've come a long way since cod liver oil and nose holding to get the medicine down. Today's medicines are often flavored – all the more reason to store all drugs out of reach.

10. As with any medicine, always check the package and the medicine itself for signs of tampering. Don't use any medicine from a package that shows cuts, tears, slices or other imperfections. If you notice anything suspicious, tell the pharmacist or store manager.

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