Often more is better. Making chocolate chip cookies? Might as well pour in the whole bag of chips. Buttering your turkey? Go ahead, use the entire stick.
But when it comes to treating our kids for their winter colds and ailments, a little extra medicine is not better. In fact, more can actually be damaging to children’s health.
I know personally how tempting it is when giving your child liquid medicine to fill that dropper up just a little bit more. When your child is crying in pain from an earache or scaring you with that 103 degree temp on the thermometer, we feel powerless. Just a bit more medicine will help them and make it better, right?
No, no, no.
More is not better
To be the best parent illness treaters at home, it is essential that we simply, correctly read the labels of the over the counter (OTC) medicine our pediatricians have recommended for our kids. Full stop. A little extra is not better, and in fact could be detrimental to our children’s health.
Too much acetaminophen overloads the liver’s ability to process the drug safely. Giving a child too much acetaminophen can lead to life-threatening liver problems.
Note to old parents like me:
Remember that single-ingredient liquid acetaminophen for infants and children now is only sold in one strength!
Although we used to be able to purchase in different forms for infants, toddlers, big kids, etc., now this OTC medicine comes in one bottle with age-appropriate dosing directions and devices with each package.
Your baby and your tween can be treated from the same bottle, but the doses will be very different. Read directions carefully, no guess-timating.
Communication to avoid double-dosing
Spousal communication is more important than ever when treating a sick child with OTC meds. Because both my husband Chris and I are actively caring for our three kids (zone defense!) and often juggling multiple children with illness, we have developed a system for our home nursing.
We keep all the OTC medicines in one place (up and away) with a notepad on which we write the child, date, time and dosage delivered. Nerdy? Totally. But when both parents are getting up in the night with a sick child and one has the 1am shift and another does 3am duty, it is so helpful to know that medicine was already administered just two hours ago.
OTCsafety.org has provided helpful tips for us parents during this winter and cold season. I present them to you both visually in this cool infographic and in a text list, too.
General OTC Safety Tips for Parents
- Always read and follow the label.
- Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device. Never use longer than the label instructs or at higher doses, unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so.
- Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
- Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
- Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
- Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
- Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four.
- Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
- Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
- Keep all medicines — and vitamins, too — up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
- Teach your child about using medicines safely. Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.
My sincerest wish to you all this early winter, holidays-approaching season is that you and your kids do not need these tips at all! Fingers crossed.
Disclosure: I am proud to serve as an #OTCSafety blogger on behalf of OTCSafety.org. I am compensated for my original contributions and help spreading the word about families’ safe use of over-the-counter products.
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