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Managing Medication: Dosage Tips for Children

Just as you wouldn’t order an adult portion for your child at a restaurant, you shouldn’t give an adult dosage of medicines. Proper dosing is important, especially for younger children.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when giving medicine to your child:

Choose the right medicine. Many medicines are available in different strengths, with specific formulas designed for children and adults. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to be sure you’re giving your child the right product, and follow the directions exactly. 

Know your child’s weight. Dosage amounts are generally based on weight and age. Now is not the time for guessing games. Have your child step onto the bathroom scale for a current figure, or refer back to the weight recorded at their most recent doctor’s visit.

Follow directions exactly. Read the label carefully before giving your child any medicine, and pay attention to potential side effects or reactions (such as drowsiness or excitability).

Use the proper dosage device. Most children’s medicines come with a specific dosage device, such as a cup or dropper/syringe. These devices were designed especially for proper dosing and often have measurement markings right on the side. Kitchen spoons, on the other hand, vary greatly in size and do not offer an accurate measurement.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Some medicines need to be taken with lots of water, while others need to be taken separately from dairy products. Be sure to check with your doctor about acceptable food–medicine combinations, along with potential side effects or reactions.

Safety comes first. Always request childproof lids at the pharmacy, and store all medicines in a locked cabinet out of children’s reach.