Some babies take their medication without a fuss, while others put up a struggle. Follow this advice to safely give your little one her medicine.
Giving your child medicine is a very nerve-wracking experience. You’re nervous that you’re going to give too much or too little, but you’re also trying to deal with a baby that refuses to open her little mouth to take the medicine! With some know-how and double-checking, you can give your baby medicine and avoid dangerous reactions.
If you’re giving your baby liquid medicine, make sure to measure out the right dose for your child’s age. The instructions will be on the bottle/packaging. Some liquid medicines include a special liquid medicine measurement, which helps you to give the accurate dose of medicine. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon, as they can vary in size. If you’re in doubt, ask your pharmacist to explain how to measure out medicine.
Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions that are supplied with the measure – always give your baby the exact dose that is stated on the medicine bottle. Check the date stamp on the medicine’s packaging. Never use out of date medicines. Take out of date medicines back to your pharmacy for safe disposal.
If you’re in doubt about how or how much medicine to give to your baby, then check with your pharmacist or GP. Never give the medicine more frequently than recommended by your GP or pharmacist.
Giving baby medicine
Read the instructions carefully before you give your baby medicine. Always wash your hands before you start. Shake the medicine bottle before opening. Fill the syringe with medicine, hold your baby upright and squirt the medicine down one side of her mouth. Try to aim at the area between your baby’s gums and the inside of her cheek – this will prevent her from gagging. Do it very gradually so you’re only squirting small amounts.
Make sure that your baby swallows the liquid before you give her more. Offer her some water or her usual milk to help wash the medicine down. If your baby is wriggling ask another adult to help you to hold your baby while you administer the medicine. Make sure to follow the directions about whether medication should be given with meals or with an empty stomach. Wash the syringe in warm, soapy water after using it.
“Put the syringe that comes with the medicine bottle into the middle of their mouth and let them suck on the syringe before slowly pushing the contents out. I use the syringe that comes with a bottle of medicine for giving other medicines too. It’s important to wait until they’re sucking as otherwise the medicine just goes against their breath and they cough and splutter it back out!” – Jen Hogan
This handy record from WonderBaba will help you to track when and how much medication your child has been given.
Expert advice – Pharmacist Sheena Mitchell
Unfortunately, many babies will need to be given medication at some stage for various reasons. Read the product packaging before use to ensure you are giving medication suitable for your child, at the correct dose, at the right time intervals and in the right way.
• Liquid medications should always be measured with clean hands using an oral syringe, medical measuring spoon or cup – ask another adult to check the dose if possible, as parental exhaustion can lead to errors. Clean equipment in hot soapy water between uses.
• Measured liquids can be given to small babies by squirting the correct dosage into the teat of an open bottle and then letting your baby suck the dose out. You can also syringe it slowly in small amounts to the area between their gums and cheek at the back of the mouth to encourage swallow. Offer a drink afterwards.
• Don’t add medicine to food or drink without checking in the leaflet or with your pharmacist whether it is safe to do so as some medicines work better on an empty or full tummy.
• If oral medication is not suitable suppositories are very useful – particularly if your child is nauseous or vomiting and you need to reduce a fever.
• If you suspect you have given too much medicine to your child contact the National Poisons Information centre on 01- 8092166 or your doctor, or the local emergency out of hours team.
• Follow the WonderBaba facebook page for free medication advice.
Sheena Mitchell is a pharmacist and mother. Check out her blog wonderbaba.ie
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