12/10/2010

How Much Should I Give Him?

A few weeks ago, my Rascal went in for a scheduled same day surgery. After it was done and we were taking him home, the surgeon wrote me a prescription for Tylenol and ibuprofen, even though I had both of them at home. He told me I should fill them anyway because they would come with a measuring syringe that was marked accurately for my child and would reduce the risk of giving him the wrong dose.

Overdosing our children is a common, and sometimes lethal mistake. Sometimes it is because we don't stop to read the bottle (a 2002 poll done by Harris International showed that only 19 percent of parents do read the bottle. REALLY????) and sometimes it is because the bottle instructions aren't really clear. The Children's Motrin bottle says that your 2-3 year old weighing 24- 35 lbs should receive 1 tsp and your 4- 5 year old weighing 36- 47 lbs should receive 1 1/2 tsp. But, what if you 4 year old weighs 33 lbs?? Do you give her 1 or 1 1/2 tsp? And sometimes it is measured in teaspoons (tsp)and sometimes in milliliters (ml) and sometimes in tablespoons (tbsp) but the measuring cup doesn't always coincide with the bottle. So now what? A kitchen measuring spoon?

One nurse said, "Paying attention is crucial, but even when you're sure you're paying attention, errors can be made. (I was a nurse for 10 years and made a few medication errors along the way...and each and every time, I was sure I paid close attention. It ...happens.)"

So, yes the drug companies should make it truly idiot-proof. But, until they all use the same measuring system and make those little cups easier to read, we parents are going to have to shoulder the responsibility. Here are some rules of thumb to keep your little angel safe.

1. If you suspect an overdose, call your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Keep the number to poison control easily available by your phone, because when you realize that your child has eaten toothpaste or drank a bottle of rubbing alcohol, you don't need to have to look it up in your moment of panic. Trust me.

2.Read the label carefully to see what ingredients are in any medicine you give your child. You don't want to give your child a dose of Tylenol and a cold medicine containing a dose of acetaminophen. You'll overdose your child.*

3. Don't leave any medicines where your child might be able to reach them.

4. Keep all medicine in child-proof bottles.

5. If you drop a pill, make sure you find it and pick it up.

6. Don't tell children that medicine is candy.

7. Don't take adult medicines in front of your child.

8. Be sure you are giving your child the correct dose of the correct medicine. Read directions carefully. Example: a. with medications for multiple ages of children in the home, a mix-up between infants and children's dosages can be deadly. b. If your child does not fit into the age/weight chart, use their weight, the dosing will be more accurate. c. if you can't find the measuring cup that came with the medication, do not use a kitchen spoon, they vary in size so the dosing will not be accurate.

9. Don't give children younger than age 4 any medicines intended for older children.

10. Try to only have one parent responsible for giving the medicine to your kids. If more than one person is responsible for giving medication to a child, make sure good communication happens to avoid confusion and duplicate doses. Create a list that tracks the dose amount and times that medicines are to be given, and check them off as you give them.


With all of the different medications available to us today with so many different doses, it is easy for our children's medications to be inaccurately dosed, even by professionals, so take a minute to read the label and think about what you are giving your child. It could be a matter of life or death.

*FYI- Tylenol, though awesome in appropriate doses in extremely dangerous to overdose on. It can cause liver failure and even death. The symptoms are those of a normal flu virus and the medicine usually tasted like candy. So, be sure to keep it out of the reach of children, even if in a child proof bottle.

For more information, read here or follow the hyperlinks in this article.

Happy Dosing.

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