Medication Safety: Advice for New Parents – and Grandparents!

If your family has recently welcomed the addition of a precious newborn, make sure you know how to administer medications safely should the need arise. Grandparent alert: Don’t rely on your memory of bringing up your own brood! Advice may have changed.

Your health care provider can be a great resource. A good time to check in is during preventive “well-child” health visits with your child’s pediatrican, says Donna L. Snyder, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatrician with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics. These visits can continue at periods throughout childhood and adolescence.

But if you’re between appointments and think your child or grandchild is sick, or just have questions, contact your health care provider to confirm what to do next, Snyder says. And consider the following advice on medication safety—for prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Get Expert Advice Before Giving Medication to Your Baby

Certain medications may not be appropriate for your baby, so you should ask your health care provider before giving your child any medication, says Snyder. If he or she has recommended a medicine for your infant, ask questions to be sure you use the right dose.

Store Medications Safely

Store any medications that you or your baby may take out of reach of your child, says Snyder. She notes that babies can start to crawl as early as 5 to 6 months. “But even if babies are under the age when you’d expect them to be able to get to your medication, get into the habit of putting medication out of their reach,” she advises.

Also read all storage instructions. “For instance, some antibiotics need to be kept in the refrigerator,” Snyder says. “So you want to make sure you’re storing it according to the instructions.” If you have questions about how to safely store a medicine, contact your pharmacist or other health care provider.

Give Medications Properly

Use the appropriate dosing device—such as an oral syringe, not a regular kitchen spoon—to give the recommended amount of medicine. Some products are packaged with these devices, but devices are also available for purchase over the counter. “If your baby is prescribed a specific amount of medicine, make sure you measure and give the specific amount using a dosing device,” Snyder adds. And talk to your baby’s pharmacist or other health care provider if you have questions.

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