giving medicine to your child
Health and safety

Things you need to know before giving medicine to your child

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.

Safety tips

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 Never use out of date medicines. Take out of date medicines back to your pharmacy for safe disposal.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.

Mum’s tip

“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

Tracking medication

This handy record from WonderBaba will help you to track when and how much medication your child has been given.

giving medicine to your child

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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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.