Safe Medication Use for Children

Safe Medication Use for Children

Fact or Myth:

“Household teaspoons and tablespoons can be used to measure liquid medicines for children”

That’s a myth!

Spoons are for soup, milliliters are for medicine!

Getting the right dose of liquid medications is essential for safe and effective treatment. Household tablespoons, teaspoons, and measuring spoons for baking should not be used to measure medicine. Always use the syringe or measuring cup included with the medication. If the medicine did not come with a measuring device, or the device becomes broken or lost, ask your pharmacist for a new one.

To learn more about medication safety for children, read on!

Please Note: The information provided below is not intended to replace a consultation with your pharmacist or physician. If you have questions about your medication(s) or are experiencing a health concern, please talk to your pharmacist.

Tips for Caregivers

Extra caution is required when giving medications to children to ensure effective treatment and prevent harm. Safe storage, use, and disposal of medications by adults is also important for protecting children in the household.

Right Medicine, Right Dose, Right Time

For both prescription and over-the-counter medications, always follow the exact dosing instructions included on the package or given by a health care provider. If you’re ever unsure, ask your pharmacist for help.

Know Your Child’s Current Weight

A child’s weight is crucial for calculating the safe and effective dose they need of many medications. Make sure you know your child’s current weight, or ask a health care provider to weigh them; many pharmacies have a scale available for this purpose.

Make sure you tell the prescriber and pharmacist your child’s most recent weight whenever they need prescription medications.

Combine with Caution

Medications, nutritional supplements, foods, and beverages don’t always mix well.

Sometimes medications can interact with each other or with the vitamins, minerals, and other substances we consume. Your pharmacist can help identify and manage these interactions.

Many over-the-counter products contain the same medicinal ingredients, despite being labelled for different purposes. For instance, acetaminophen is found in many children’s products for pain, cough, cold, and flu symptoms. Combining multiple products that contain the same medicinal ingredient can cause your child to take more than is safe—even if you use the proper doses listed on the packages.

Ask your pharmacist before giving your child more than one over-the-counter medicine. Also speak to your pharmacist before combining over-the-counter and prescription medications for your child.

Inform Your Pharmacist About Allergies, Intolerances, and Reactions

Tell the pharmacist if your child experiences a reaction to a medication, like a rash, hives, or diarrhea. The pharmacist can help you decide what to do next and document the reaction for the next time your child needs a medication.

If your child develops wheezing or has trouble breathing or swallowing after taking a medicine, call 911 or go to the ER right away.

Responsible Medication Handling

Due to the dangers of children accidentally ingesting medications, it is essential that all medications are stored, used, and disposed of with caution in the household. Caregivers have an important role in medication safety education and role-modelling.

Safe Medication Storage

Store medications up, away, and out of sight from children. Return medications to their designated spot after each use, even if it’s inconvenient. When visiting friends and family, ensure that their medications are also stored appropriately.

Modelling Safe Medication Use

It’s important that children understand the seriousness of medicines and when it is appropriate to use them; they should only take medicine when it is given to them by a trusted adult. Children are curious and mimic the actions of adults, so be careful of how you use medications and what you tell them about medicines.

Safe Disposal of Unused and Expired Medications

To protect children and pets in your household, it’s essential to return unused and expired medications to a pharmacy for disposal. To learn more, visit our safe medication disposal webpage.

Resources to Learn More

Interested in learning more? Explore the resources included here!

Safe Kids Worldwide

Keeping Kids Safe Around Medicine

5 Things to Know About Kids and Medicine

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Up and Away Campaign

How to Use Liquid Medicines for Children