Babies and medicine: getting the right dose

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If you’ve ever given medicine to a baby or toddler, you know it’s not always a smooth process. But you can make it a little smoother—and keep your little one safer—by giving them the right dosage every time, according to Bevan Jensen, pediatric pharmacist at Intermountain Healthcare Primary Children’s Hospital.

Getting the right dosage of medicine is important to your child’s health. Medicine dosage is based on a child’s weight and age. In small children, even the smallest amount over the dosage recommendations can harm a child. On the other hand, if you’re not giving them enough, the medicine also can be ineffective. This goes for over the counter pain relievers and prescription medication alike.

The problem is, we’re not always getting the right doses for our kids because of the way we measure the medicine. Jensen showed us some of the common ways parents measure medicine and how they can be inaccurate.

Teaspoon: Worst  To get the right dose, never use a teaspoon. A teaspoon is equivalent to 5 milliliters or 5 ccs. But when you use a spoon from your kitchen drawer, it’s likely to measure significantly lower or higher than 5 ccs. If your prescription medication dosage is in teaspoons, ask your pharmacist to recalculate the dosage in milliliters or ccs – and use a more accurate tool to measure the dose.

Dosing Cup: Good  A dosing cup is a better option, but when your child takes the medicine, there’s going to be some medicine residue in the cup. This essentially means your child is not getting the most accurate dose. It can also be more difficult to get small children to take the medicine. 

Oral Syringe: Better  Use an oral syringe to more accurately measure liquid medicine. You can get these at many pharmacies, from your pediatrician, or purchase them at a drug store or online. These syringes can’t connect to needles and are safe to use with infants and toddlers. They include measurement lines in milliliters and ccs, so you can get the right dosage. You also can prevent kids from spitting it all out by distributing the medicine in the corner of their cheek. Dipping the syringe inside the medicine bottle can leave residue on the outside of the syringe, so you’ll want to wipe it off before giving the medicine to your child. 

Bottle Stopper: Best  Use a spill-proof stopper for the bottle top, tip the bottle upside down, and use a syringe to draw the right dose. These are free at the Primary Children’s Pharmacy with purchase. You can ask your pharmacist for one, or you can buy one at drugstores or online for about 35 cents a piece. Be sure to get the right size to match your bottle. While bottle stoppers fit most bottle openings, a cone-shaped, one-size-fits-all model is a sure fit and can be found in some drug stores or online. 

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