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Answers about Medication for Your Child, by Robyn Lilly, CPNP-PC

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blog-medication-dosagesWhat's the deal with giving kids medication?


It is the middle of the night and your little one awakens you fussy and feverish. The doctor's office is closed. You just want to get a few more hours of shut eye before the sun rises. You reach into your trusty medicine cabinet to find something to help your itty bitty feel better and get some sleep. Sounds easy enough, right? Just reach into the cabinet and find some Tylenol or Ibuprofen to do the trick. But wait it really isn't that easy. First, you are often dosing this medication in a half sleepy state and then you have your child crying at your feet. Second, you have to figure out what dose to give your little much did he/she weigh at their last check up? After you figure out the correct amount to give, then you have to locate some device to give the medicine to your little one. So many steps to consider.


So you are trying to figure out the correct dose to give to your little one and you read the side of the bottle. You see weight ranges and then the either teaspoons, tablespoons, milliliters (mL), droppers, etc. Enough to make your sleepy head spin, right? You are not alone in your confusion. In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article (from December 2010), the issue of dosing directions and medication device consistency was studied. The researchers looked at several common over the counter medications and their dosing instructions and medication devices included in the package. Around 200 over the counter medications were studied. And in about 98% of the medications, there were inconsistencies between the medication's dosing directions and markings on the medication device (syringe, dropper, or medication cup). This is important to be aware of as a parent dosing out these medications. It is important to read the labels carefully for the correct dose and to find a medication device that matches the dose instructions. If the directions are given in milliliters (mL), it is important to find an oral syringe with those markings. Many times over the counter medications only come with a medication cup marked in teaspoons (tsp) or tablespoons (TBSP). And the dose for smaller kiddos is often in smaller teaspoon increments. And the teaspoon/tablespoon measurements aren't the ones located in your kitchen drawers. I have found one of the best ways is to always have an oral syringe around with the markings of milliliters and teaspoons on it to measure out the medications. It makes the medicine easier to give and more precise. Another great resource for dosing acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin) can be found on our website: And as always if you ever have a medication dosing question, please feel free to discuss those questions and concerns with your provider.


Knowledge is power. So the next time your child awakens you in the middle of the night needing medicine, you'll be better equipped to deliver the correct dose of medicine to your precious little ones.