When Your Child Gets Sick

New parents may become stressed or even scared when their child gets sick. But experienced parents will tell you that kids get sick at one time or another. When your child is sick you should first call your child’s pediatrician. It is important to rule out any life threatening illness. 

Assuming your child is not gravely ill and that the pediatrician cannot see your child right away, the pediatrician can help you find correct medication to make your child feel better as soon as possible. Your child’s pediatrician will guide you in finding the best medication for your child based on age, weight and medical condition.

It is important to stress that certain medications should not be given to babies or children. Do not give adult medication to children. Adult medication such as aspirin should not be given to children due to the serious side effects it causes to a child’s brain (Reye’s syndrome).

Additionally, the following tips will come in handy when your child is sick:

Be prepared: 

  • Keep a list on your fridge (or next to the phone) of important phone numbers such as your pediatrician, poison control center and nearest pharmacy.
  • Program key numbers into your home and cell phone for quick access during an emergency.
  • Know your child's weight. Most children's medicines are dosed by weight or age. The appropriate dose will change as your child grows.
  • List any medications that your child is taking currently and any allergies or medical conditions.

Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with: 

  • A thermometer (regular and digital).
  • Children's over the counter medication such as Tylenol® or Motrin® to lower fevers and decrease pain and discomfort in your child. This will help you avoid having to run out in the middle of the night to buy it!

Know how to give medication correctly:

  • Know your child's weight so that you can give the correct dose. Do not go over the recommended dosage!
  • Read the package instructions for each medicine very carefully. Not all medicines have the same dosage and time intervals. Follow the package instructions and give the full amount of medicine (but not over!) that is labeled for your child.
  • Always use the dropper or dosage cup that comes with the medicine. Never use spoons, droppers, or cups from other medicines. Do not use other items like kitchen teaspoons as they are not accurate for children’s medication.
  • Make sure you're giving the right formula for your child's weight and age. Infants' and children's medicines are specially formulated for a certain age and weight. Don't give infants' medicine to an older child or children's medicine to an infant. It will not be effective in older children and may cause harm in younger children.
  • Do not combine medications unless your pediatrician recommends it.
  • Do not give small doses of adult medication to children. Children are not mini-adults!
  • Don't give medicine to a baby or young child who is lying down as this could cause choking.
  • Most children medications come with specific dosage instructions on the bottle, package or insert. It is very important to follow those instructions as they are written. Giving more medication to your child, especially a young child, will not make your child get better any sooner and in fact may cause more health problems. If you are unsure of how much medication to give, contact your pediatrician.

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