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Babies & medicine: Handle with care. What to know

reviewed 12/6/2019

Safety musts when giving medicine to babies

Your baby may need medicine one day.

You need to give it with care. For one thing: Just because a product is sold over the counter doesn't mean it's safe for infants. And you'll absolutely want to make sure you're giving your baby a safe and correct dose.

Here are important safety tips for parents and caregivers:

Get an expert opinion

Always ask your doctor before giving any over-the-counter medicine to your baby. Some may not be safe for babies and small children.

NEVER give cough and cold medicines to children younger than 2 years. There is a risk of life-threatening side effects for this age group.

Give the right dose

You might think that giving your child a bigger dose than recommended will make the medicine work faster or better. That's not true. In fact, giving a bigger dose could be dangerous.

Learn dosing abbreviations

Tablespoon = tbsp

Teaspoon = tsp

Milligram = mg

Milliliter = mL

Ounce = oz

Use the correct dosing device

Use the appropriate dosing tool—such as an oral syringe—to give the recommended amount of medicine. Some medicines are packaged with these devices. But measuring devices are also available for purchase over the counter. An ordinary kitchen spoon is not a good measuring device.

Store medicines safely

Keep all medicines out of your baby's reach. Even if you think your baby's too young to get into a medicine, it's good to get in the habit of securing medications safely out of reach.

Breastfeeding? Ask for advice

If you're the one taking medicine, ask your doctor if it's safe to breastfeed. Nursing moms should ask about any prescription or over-the-counter products, including supplements. Some medicines can be passed on to your baby through breast milk.

When baby's sick

Learn what may warrant a call to your baby's doctor.

Should I call the doctor?

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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