A sick child—could anything be worse for a parent? As your child sniffs, sneezes, and runs a fever, you often feel helpless. But there are things you can do to help your child get on the path to recovery.
The first step is to ask questions at the doctor's office, especially regarding prescribed medications. It is your right and your responsibility to be an informed parent. You may want to bring a notepad so that you can write down all the information.
A child should never be left alone to take medication. An adult should always be involved. Here are some tips to help you give medication to a child safely:
Make sure to keep all medications in child-proof caps, and store them in a locked cabinet out of your child's reach.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Look at labels to make sure that any over-the-counter (OTC) medication doesn't contain aspirin. OTC cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under 6 years old. Always check with your doctor before giving your child any OTC medication to make sure it is safe to do so.
Sometimes your child will need to take medication while at school. Each school has a policy on how it deals with delivering medication to students. Make sure you call the school and speak with the school nurse or principal to find out the school's medication policy. Here are a few standard guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Remember, you and your child's doctor are working toward the same goal—your child's health and well-being.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
The National Association of School Nurses
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
How to give your child medicine. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/drugs-procedures-devices/over-the-counter/medicine-and-your-child-how-to-give-your-child-medicine.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Medication safety tips. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/medication-safety/Pages/Medication-Safety-Tips.aspx. Updated June 30, 2015. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Medications: using them safely. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/medicine/medication_safety.html. Updated January 2015. Accessed July 20, 2015.
Murray RD, Gereige RS, Lamont JH. Policy statement—guidance for the administration of medication in school. Pediatrics. 2009;124(4):1244-1251.
Last reviewed July 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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