Medicines given incorrectly by parents and carers is the most common reason for accidental poisonings in Australian children under 12 months.
Accurately measuring and administering medicines to children helps avoid accidental overdosing or under dosing.
Some top tips for being medicinewise with children:
Read the label
Read labels and packaging each time you are buying a medicine and before giving a medicine to a child. Children’s medicines come in different forms and strengths for different ages. Make sure you know the strength of the medicine when measuring a child’s dose, so you don’t over or under dose them.
Know the active ingredient
The active ingredient is the chemical that makes the medicine work. Common active ingredients like paracetamol can be found in a range of medicines either on their own or in a combination formula. So, don’t risk double-dosing, always check the active ingredient.
Dose according to age and weight
Over-the-counter children’s medicine labels often contain age and average weight dosage recommendations. Read these tables carefully. Do not give more than the recommended dose for the child’s AGE.
Accurate measurements for liquid medicines matter. Use the dosing device provided in the package, such as a dropper, oral syringe or medicine cup. If the medicine doesn’t come with a dosing device, ask your pharmacist to recommend one.
Keep a record
Keeping a record can help you to avoid exceeding the maximum daily dose and reduce the risk of double dosing, particularly when more than one person cares for the child.
Don’t wait until the last minute or the middle of the night when your child is sick to know how much to dose your child. It’s important to weigh children regularly, know how to interpret medicine dosage information on labels about age and weight, know how to use your measuring device and have the proper measuring device handy.
If you are unsure how to interpret dosing information on product labelling, check the correct dosage to give your child with your doctor or pharmacist. If you have any questions about medicines and children, call the pharmacists at the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE.
This blog post is sponsored by NPS MedicineWise.
Medicine mishaps can cause big problems in little bodies, so if you’re a parent or carer it’s important to understand how to safely use medicines with children. Read up on the key tips to avoid accidental overdosing this Be Medicinewise Week.
If you have any concerns about overdosing or accidental poisonings, immediately ring the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26, or take the child to the nearest hospital emergency department.