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Meds Essential

What to know about Meds
Whether it was a prescription of an over-the-counter gripe water or understanding the label on your medication, there’s so much to worry about: How many doses can I give my baby? Is she supposed to eat first? Can I sneak it into her juice? Before you call the doctor, here are a few tips you may find helpful.

Is it okay to give my 3-year-old a smaller dose of the recommended amount for a 5-year-old?
No. Dosing is usually based on weight, not age and some medications recommended for a 5 year old may not be recommended for a 3 year old. Although the guidelines on some labels include age ranges, they’re averages. So if your child is much heavier


or lighter than average, the recommended dose may not be right for him. Check with your pharmacist or paediatrician to make sure you use the correct measurement or to see if the medication is even recommended for your child’s age.

Can I mix my child’s medication with juice to make it taste better?
Yes you may, but you need to be aware of a few things. Mixing with a semi-solid food is sometimes a better idea than juice. With juices, contents of the meds may settle at the bottom which can expose your disguise or your child may not get the full dose. Although not common in paediatrics, time-released medications may change the way it works. You should also try to avoid calcium-rich products as some research has shown that combining milk or other calcium-rich foods with certain medications can weaken the dose. If the paediatrician or pharmacist gives you the green light, use the smallest amount of food possible (ideally just one or two spoonfuls) so your child will eat the whole thing. You should serve it immediately as if the mixture sits, the drug may start to degrade.

Can I give my child medication if he has gastro?
We do not usually recommend medication. Instead, when your child has a stomach bug and is vomiting, simply give him small amounts of fluids or electrolyte solutions like Pedialyte (aim for 1 or 2 teaspoons every five minutes) until he feels better. Other common remedies include coconut water but it is not a complete source of all the necessary electrolytes. Small doses are key to help the child to tolerate the fluids. If the problem persists, contact your paediatrician.

What should I do if I accidentally give my child too much medicine?
Call your pediatrician immediately. If you can’t reach her, get your child to the nearest hospital.

What’s the difference between ibuprofen and acetaminophen? Is one better than the other?
Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in drugs such as Advil while acetaminophen is the active ingredient in panadol and cetamol. Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen reduce pain and fever. Ibuprofen has the advantage of lasting longer (six to eight hours, compared with four to six hours for acetaminophen). Beyond that, the one you choose really depends on your child’s ailment, age, and stomach sensitivity. Ibuprofen is very effective at targeting pain caused by inflammation, like tooth, ear and muscle aches. But keep in mind, ibuprofen can cause upset stomach and is not approved for children under 6 months.

What should I do if my child throws up right after I give her medication?
If she vomits within five minutes, it’s safe to repeat the dose since the medication didn’t have time to be absorbed into her bloodstream. However, if your child throws up a second time, don’t try to give her the medication again. If she vomits 30 minutes after, wait until it’s time for the next dose. If the vomiting persists, call your paediatrician.

Adapted from “Meds School for Parents”, Parent Magazine