Parenting a sick child can be stressful and at the same time confusing. Your child’s simple cough or colds is enough to trigger your maternal instinct, making you head off to the drug-store for some medication. The problem is, there are so many overwhelming over-the-counter (OTC) drugs you can choose from that in the end, you don’t exactly know what’s best for you sick child. Here are some valuable tips you should not miss in giving medication to your child.

1) Always ask your pediatrician when giving any medication to children below 2 years old; and don’t make a mistake of giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicines to children below 4 years old. These medications don’t realistically cure illnesses. They just temporarily relieve symptoms with unquestionably life-threatening side effects. Cough and cold symptoms are better managed by increasing fluid intake and using humidifiers.

2) For your child’s fever, it is safe to use Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Avoid Aspirin or any product with salicylates as ingredients because they are highly associated with Reye Syndrome – a critical condition that can be fatal.

3) Do not give your child two or more OTC drugs with the same ingredients. Be especially aware that most cough and cold preparations already contain Acetaminophen for fever. Hence, if your child has colds and fever at the same time, one medication will do as long as the ingredients are stated in the medication label.

4) Be conscious about the measuring device you are using when giving medication to your child. If the medication comes with its own cup or spoon, use it. Otherwise, use an actual measuring spoon or dosing cup. Avoid using common kitchen spoons because they can vary in size.

5) Always turn the lights on when giving medication to your child at night, to avoid dosage mistakes. In the same way, never allow kids to take medication by themselves.

6) No medicine is free side effects. Be cautious of new symptoms that may appear after giving medications. Watch out also for hypersensitivity reactions like rashes, hives, breathing difficulty, swallowing problems and wheezing. If these are present, go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately.

7) There are some medications that need to be taken with meals. Do not fail to read the directions at the back of the medication label regarding the best time to give the medicine to your child.

8) Read carefully the directions regarding the dose that should be given to your child based on age, and be sure you understand measurement abbreviations like “tsp” for teaspoon, “tbsp” for tablespoon, “oz.” for ounces, and “ml” for milliliter.

9) When buying a medicine, be sure to check that it hasn’t expired yet, and the bottle’s tamper proof seals are not broken.

10) Child proof the medicines, including vitamins, to avoid accidental overdose by using child-resistant caps and making sure they are out of reach of children and pets.

Over-the-counter medications are usually a mom’s first aid in dealing with her sick child. Just remember that although these medications are readily accessible, and most do not require doctor’s prescription, it still poses danger to children when not given appropriately. Safety measures should always be taken seriously by any adult giving medications to young children.