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Giving toddlers medicine: 5 things every parent should know

At some point, your toddler will likely need a liquid medication—such as a fever-reducer from the pharmacy or an antibiotic prescribed by the doctor. Here's what you should know about giving medicine to your child safely—and without too much fuss.

1. Use as directed

Always read the label before giving your child a medication. Some drugs aren't safe for infants and toddlers under 2 years old. These include over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.

If the medicine was prescribed by the doctor, give the full amount. Don't stop early, even if your child is feeling better.

2. Measure carefully

Use the dropper that came with the drug to measure your child's dose. Kitchen spoons can be inaccurate. And giving the wrong amount could be harmful. Don't have the measuring device that came with the medication? Your pharmacist can give you a safe replacement.

3. Check your technique

If your child is reluctant, the right approach can make giving liquid medicine easier. Place the syringe past your child's teeth and drip the liquid onto the back of their tongue. Don't squirt it down the throat or give medicine while your child is lying down. Both could cause choking.

You can invite a resistant toddler to hold the syringe while you push the plunger. But don't try to convince them by calling the medicine candy.

4. Store it safely

After giving a dose, put the cap back on the medicine and store it in a safe place. Don't leave medicine where your child can reach it—even if you're using it throughout the day.

5. Be conservative

It's fine to give age-appropriate over-the-counter medicine to treat symptoms when your toddler is fussy. But there's no need to give anything if your child seems comfortable. And avoid offering multiple medicines at the same time unless your child's doctor recommends it.

If you have questions about a medicine, ask your child's doctor or talk to a pharmacist. That goes for both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Reviewed 10/12/2021

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