It’s a familiar image: the spoonful of medicine doled out to kids in movies, ads, and even children’s story books. But it’s not the right way to give kids medicine.
We may call those spoons in the silverware drawer teaspoons, but chances are slim that yours just happen to hold 5 mL. That’s the amount that “teaspoon” describes when it comes to medicine. Giving kids the right dose of medicine can be challenging in any case. Don’t make it harder on yourself by using the wrong tools.
Measuring the correct dose
Medicines for small children are usually in liquid form. Medicine bottles often come with dosing devices. Make sure to use the measuring device that came with the medicine. Mistakes are often made by using a different medicine’s measuring device that may not use the same unit of measurement. Be very careful when measuring your child’s medication to make sure you have the correct dose for your child’s weight.
Common examples of measuring devices for kids’ medications:
- Measuring cups: these are often over the top of the bottle and its cap. Don’t just fill the cap. Check the measuring lines and make sure you are giving the right dose for your child. Once you’ve used the cap to dispense the medicine, be sure to wash it before putting it away. Be sure to keep the cap with the bottle, too. Mixing and matching caps and bottles can lead to inaccurate dosing.
- Dosing spoons are usually chosen for older kids. They also have measuring lines on them, so you should be sure to use those lines to measure the dose precisely. Once you’ve used the spoon, be sure to wash it. If you prefer a syringe or dropper, ask your pharmacist.
- Dosing droppers or oral syringes are the most accurate. They work by drawing up the medicine. You can take the medicine directly from the medicine bottle, but you might prefer to pour into a cup first. Pull up a little more than the measuring line and then release a little to bring the dose exactly to the measuring line. Put the medicine between the child’s tongue and cheek to make it easy for your baby to swallow. Then be sure to wash the dropper. Since it goes directly into the medicine, this is especially important for an oral syringe.
Tips to help children take their medication
Children’s medications often come in a variety of child friendly flavors like orange, grape or bubble gum. Children can be very sensitive to flavors and may love or have strong dislike for their medication. Remind them of the importance of taking their medication to feel better. Compliment them when they take the medication.
If they have an aversion to their medication you may want to think of a reward to make the experience more favorable. It could be a favorite snack or an activity, such as sitting down to read their favorite book.
Safe Medication Storage
Wash medicine cups, spoons, and droppers in warm, soapy water. Rinse with white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and then rinse very thoroughly with warm water again. Return the dosing tool to the medicine bottle so you’ll have the right one when you need it again. Store the medication according to the pharmacist’s directions, away from children’s reach.
If you have any questions about giving your child medications, ask your pediatrician.