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Medical Dosing

When a child is sick, parents typically have their hands full. In addition tending to your child’s every need and giving him/her some extra TLC, there’s also the anxiety of safely giving them certain medications, knowing that some medications and incorrect dosages can cause serious side effects. However, with a little knowledge and a lot of double-checking, you can give your kids medicine safely and prevent dangerous reactions.

Not all children’s illnesses have to be treated with medication. So it might be worth first considering whether treatment is really needed. Children, and particularly infants, differ from adults in their response to drugs. Special care is needed in ensuring the drug prescribed is appropriate and that the correct dosage is given. It is important to always check with the doctor if you’re unsure whether symptoms require treatment with medication.

For assistance calculating dosages of common medications for your child, please visit the links below:

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Dosage Chart

Ibuprofen (Advil)

Cetirizine (Zyrtec) Dosage Chart (or substitute Claritin (Loratadine) at same dosage)

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) Dosage Chart

If you have prescription medications that you no longer need or any medications that have expired, it’s important to dispose of them properly to avoid a safety hazard. See the FDA medication disposal guidelines for instructions.

What to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

Every household with children should maintain a well-stocked medicine cabinet to treat the myriad minor injuries and conditions that can occur.  Here is our recommended list of supplies and medications that every family should try to keep on hand at all times. Use as necessary and directed, but remember that patience and TLC are often all that are needed to treat the majority of childhood illnesses.

  • A working thermometer with fresh batteries. Use a digital rectal thermometer in children under 12 months of age

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) in the age-appropriate form. Do not give to an infant under 2 months of age

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin®/Advil®) in the age-appropriate form. Do not give to an infant under 6 months of age

  • An antihistamine such as Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) or Zyrtec® (certirizine) for allergic reactions, hives, itching, etc

  • Neosporin® or another triple antibiotic over-the-counter medicated cream

  • 0.5% or 1% hydrocortisone cream (anti-inflammatory for skin lesions such as bug bites, itchy rashes, and mild eczema)

  • Salt water/saline nose drops and a suction bulb or nose frida for infants (used to loosen nasal congestion to make it easier for infants with colds to breathe)

  • A cool mist vaporizer for coughs, croup, or congestion

  • An antifungal cream (Lotrimin®, Monistat®, etc.) to be used for athlete’s foot, ringworm or yeast diaper rashes in infants

  • Pedialyte® or another electrolyte replacement solution for vomiting and/or diarrhea. This is not actually a medicine, but something you give instead of regular food/drink for a child who has a gastrointestinal illness. (a mixture of 2/3 Gatorade® and 1/3 water is equivalent to Pedialyte®)

  • An ice pack and Ace style wrap for older children who may experience ankle sprains or other injuries

  • A medicine teaspoon/dropper with accurate measurements. You should not use a kitchen teaspoon to dispense medicines.

  • A variety of sizes of gauze pads and bandages to care for wounds

  • Betadine or Epsom salts for soaking and cleaning wounds

The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends OTC cough and cold medicine for children under the age of 6 years old.

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