Medicine Handbook for Moms

What you need to know about dosing, labels, side effects and more when giving your child medication.
Be in-the-know about safety issues when giving your child medication. ShoppingLifestyle brings you this essential guide on safety pointers, plus what every parent needs to know about dosing, labels, side effects and more.

Always follow dosage directions. Never change the recommended dosage or cut an adult dose in half for your child. If you're in doubt, always check with your doctor. For certain medicine, such as antibiotics, your child will need to finish all of the medicine -- even if she begins to get better before that. If the antibiotic is stopped early, the infection can return.

Read and follow all directions on the label. For example, if the instruction says "take with food or milk", you should ensure your child eat a snack or meal right before or after taking the medication. If the medicine is to be "taken before meals", your child should take the medicine 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal -- food may affect the ingredients in the medicine, or may delay or reduce its absorption. And if the label says "shake before using", the medicine needs to be shaked to ensure that the active ingredients are evenly mixed so your child can get consistent doses.

Make sure you keep your doctor up-to-date with your child's weight and height. Remember, medicine is prescribed to your child based on his body weight rather than age. Too little medication can be ineffective and too much medication could be harmful to your child.

Always inform your doctor if your child has allergies or is currently taking other medications.

Don't give one child another child's prescription medicine. Even if they have the same symptoms, they may require different drugs with different doses and directions.

Don't give any over-the-counter drug to a child under 2 without your doctor's approval.

Never give aspirin to a child below 12, especially during viral illnesses. Using aspirin during an illness caused by a virus (such as the flu or chickenpox) can cause Reye's syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disease which affects the brain and liver. Also avoid aspirin-containing medications that lists ingredients such as salicylate or acetylsalicylate.

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