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A Spoonful of Safety: Toddler Medication Tips (June 2008)

While medications are invaluable for treating a variety of childhood illnesses, proper storage, dosage, and dispensing are vital. The American Academy of Pediatrics ( offers guidelines for giving medicine to your toddler:

  • Stick to a schedule. Don’t skip a dose of your child’s medication. If you miss a dose, talk to your pediatrician or pharmacist to find out what to do.

  • Measure the medication carefully. Even a small amount of too much medication could be dangerous for your child.

  • Don’t stop too soon. Even if your child is feeling better, make sure to continue giving an antibiotic until the full course of medication is complete. Infections can return if medication is stopped too soon.

  • Don’t try and mask the taste. If you put the medication in milk or food, unless specifically okayed by a physician or pharmacist, you could affect how the medication works or is absorbed by the body.

More than Just Spoons

Don’t rely on a flatware teaspoon or tablespoon to give your child medication. Instead, ask your pediatrician or pharmacist about the best dosing instrument for your child’s needs.

Syringes and oral droppers work best for infants because medication can be squirted to the back of the throat, but your toddler may be ready for a dosing spoon or medicine cup. If your child can “drink” from a spoon, choose the dosing spoon. If he or she is able to drink from a cup, you can use a medicine cup for dispensing the medication.

Regardless of the dosing tool, ensure all medication is dispensed to the child. Ensuring he or she gets all the needed medicine is half the battle.

Talking to Your Friendly Pharmacist

Other than your child's physician, your pharmacist is a very knowledgeable resource about your child’s medication. He or she knows the vital information about hundreds of different medications, including best practices for giving the medicine and potential side effects. (If you have any questions concerning information given to you by your pharmacist, be sure to check with your physician.)

Before leaving the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist the following questions:

  • How should the medication be stored? Should it be refrigerated?

  • What are the exact directions?

  • Should my child avoid certain foods when taking the medication?

  • Will the medication make my child sensitive to the sun?

  • Is it okay to cut pills or mix them into food?

  • Will the medication conflict with any other medication my child is taking?



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