5 Mistakes to Avoid When Giving Cough Medicine to Children

By arya

Seeing your child sick and shaking from a coughing fit can be scary. Sometimes, it can even cause you to panic.

Although cuddles, rest, and his comfort food might help, they may not be enough to ensure his recovery. This is where medications can be useful.

When administering medicine, there are times that many parents make mistakes, either due to the emotions they feel or the sheer difficulty of making children take medicine. To avoid the unpleasant consequences of the improper dispensing of medicine, you must first understand the five mistakes you need to avoid for the faster recovery of your little one.

Mistake #1: Not Giving Age-Appropriate Cough Remedy

Even the best cough syrup for kids may not achieve the expected results if not given according to the appropriate age of intake.

Several studies revealed that cough and cold medicine might have adverse effects on very young kids, including convulsions and an increased heart rate. This is the very reason why many medicine manufacturers attach labels that indicate the appropriate age of patients on whom their product should be used for.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the use of cough and cold medicines for children no younger than four years of age. Also, the organization strongly advises parents to seek the approval of a pediatrician first before giving kids these remedies.

You must also remember to only give doctor-prescribed cough medicine to babies below two months old and make sure that they are in their infant formulations. Often, these are the variants that come with a medicine dropper or syringe.

Mistake #2: Forcing Down Medicine

Most of the time, children won’t take medicine without a fight. When this happens, it can be tempting for parents to use force in order to make their kids take cough medicine.

After all, you only want what’s best for your child. Right?

Wrong. Forcing medicine on your child – no matter how pure your intentions maybe – is not recommended. This is because squeezing your child’s cheeks, forcing his head back, or holding his nose when giving him medicine might cause him to choke on it. Aside from that, the stress from struggling might even trigger a coughing fit.

If he can already sit up, make sure he is in a sitting position when administering the medicine. If not, you should elevate his head slightly and point the dropper to the inside of his cheek. Never aim it directly at your child’s throat as it can cause him to gag and choke.

If your baby is resisting, you should try gently blowing on his face. This will trigger a swallowing reflex and help him down the medicine easier.

For older babies, you can offer a pacifier for him to suck on right after you give him the medicine. The sucking action will ensure that he swallows the medicine without any hiccup (no pun intended).

Mistake #3: Measuring Medicine with a Spoon

While it can make giving medications to children so much easier, measuring cough medicine using a spoon may lead to incorrect doses. In fact, a study shows that parents give their kids the wrong dose 47 percent of the time due to confusion on how to measure and give liquid medicine.

According to Harvard Medical School, this is primarily because of two reasons: measuring the medicine wrong, or misunderstanding what the instructions really mean. While understandable, this mistake is utterly dangerous for your child’s health.

To avoid making the same mistakes 85 percent of 2,110 parents did in a study in the Pediatrics journal, here are two ways you can get the right dose of liquid medicine as recommended by Harvard:

Use the right measuring tool

One of the most precise ways of measuring cough syrup is to set aside the spoons you use for eating and pick up the right tools for measuring medicine. While measuring spoons and cups might do the trick, the more accurate tool to use is a medicine syringe.

As the name implies, this tool is essentially made for the very purpose of measuring and administering medicine. And, unlike measuring spoons or cups, syringes can easily fit into your child’s mouth, no matter what his age may be. Plus, you’ll get every single drop of the remedy in, which means no medicine is wasted, and the dosage is accurate.

Read and understand the instructions correctly

Although this might sound obvious, many parents still mess up the dosage of cough medicine because they get confused with the different units of measurements used in the labels. Some of them are:

  • Milliliters (mL)
  • Cubic centimeter (cc)
  • Teaspoon (tsp)
  • Tablespoon (tbsp)

If you know how to read it properly, you’ll be able to measure the precise amount of medicine for your child.

If there’s still doubt, you can always ask for help from your child’s pediatrician or your local pharmacist. Not doing so leads to the next mistake on this list.

Mistake #4: Making Assumptions

Getting the dosage of medicine right is crucial to its effectiveness. This is why you must never assume that you got it right if you still have even the slightest doubt about it. Remember: overdosage has dangerous effects on your child’s health.

Aside from the dosage, you must also be 100 percent sure about when and how to give the medicine as well as the possible side effects it may have. More importantly, you must know whether your child is allergic to certain components of the drug.

You’ll find a lot of this information at the product’s label or in the pamphlet that comes with it inside the box. Of course, it is still safest to ask your child’s doctor about it.

Mistake #5: Overmedicating to Speed Up Recovery or to Fix a Mistake in Dosage

Anyone – not just parents – who has tried giving medicine to a fussy child knows that it can be an exhausting task. In some cases, it can be quite wasteful, specifically if the medicine has been thrown up by the child.

During these times, some people think that they need to give the child more to fix the error in dosage from the upchuck. But this shouldn’t be the case.

Even if he wasn’t able to swallow all of the medication you were giving him, there is still a chance that enough of it has already entered his system. This means that giving him more might cause an overdose. The same applies to medicine vomited after an hour of intake.

In some cases, parents also tend to become worried when they don’t see any change in their child’s condition that they decide to up the dosage. Unless you’re a licensed medical practitioner yourself, you should never attempt this with your child.

Remember that many OTC drugs and antibiotics take at least three or four days before they have any apparent effect. Similarly, increasing the dosage won’t make any difference, not to mention it can cause severe side effects.

Quick Roundup

When a child shows chesty cough symptoms, parents might feel a bit flushed, which can cause them to panic. However, you must keep a level head when this happens, as freaking out will only cause you to make mistakes.

With the help of this article, be sure to give your child his cough medicine properly and avoid untoward consequences later.