Medication and Kids

Learn the dos and don'ts of administering over-the-counter medications to children.

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are common over-the-counter pain relievers, but do you know which to use for your and your children's ailments? While they all offer benefits, the medications also come with potential risks.

Naproxen and ibuprofen have been shown to help alleviate menstrual cramps. If you do have cramps, avoid taking aspirin because it can cause bleeding. Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears advises parents to never give aspirin or naproxen to children.

Giving Kids Medicine• Don't give medications in a beverage or food, unless the doctor or pharmacist says it's OK. Your child may not receive the proper dose if he or she does not finish all the food or beverage, and ingesting the medicine in this form may alter its effect.
• Never use a standard kitchen spoon to measure medicine, because it may be inaccurate. Use a syringe or an official medicine cup with measurements on it.
• Before you leave the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to show you what the exact dose should be.
• If your children do not like the taste of a medicine, as the pharmacist about other flavor options or inquire about chewable tablets.
• Write down the doctor's instructions so the pharmacist is aware.
• Read the directions on the medications, and ask the pharmacist if you have any questions.

Medicine Storage• Store medicine in a cool, dry area, such as the kitchen, bedroom or your office.• Don't store medicine in the bathroom, because the humidity and change of temperature from the shower can decrease the effectiveness of the medication.
• Keep medicines in a high place, out of reach of children. Make sure grandparents and other relatives do the same, so visiting children can't get to them.

Vapor Rub for Kids?
“There are right ways and wrong ways to use this,” Dr. Sears says. “There’s a study that found, at least in animals, it can actually constrict the airways and maybe increase mucus production, even though you feel more open. It was a really small study. They’re looking at it a little further.

“But for now, follow the instructions,” he continues. “Don’t use it under age 2 and keep it away from the nose. That’s where most of the problems have been. If it’s under the nose, it can really get into the airways and irritate. It’s a chest rub.”

Vitamin Safety
Are vitamins safe for children?

"Before age 1, most kids get what they need from formula or breast milk, but after that, especially if they're picky eaters, a multivitamin is a great safety net to fill in the gaps," Dr. Sears says. "I would get the multivitamin that has no artificial coloring or artificial flavors and is naturally sweetened. And don't call it candy, otherwise they might overdose."

Are homeopathic remedies safe for children?