When your child is sick it’s handy to have Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications on hand. Unfortunately, it’s very common to make mistakes giving the correct pediatric dose. Below are 5 tips to help when you find your child needs some help from an OTC drug.

1) Make sure to use the correct medication.

Find the OTC medication that targets just the symptoms the child is experiencing. Many OTC drugs treat multiple symptoms and it is best to avoid medicine that targets symptoms your child is not having.

2) Be aware of the active ingredients.

This is especially important when you give your child more than one medication. You don’t want to have the same active ingredient in multiple products that you give your kid. Look for the drug component listed first on the medicine’s label; this is the “active ingredient. Combining multiple OTCs with the same active ingredient can lead to over-medicating and have serious health consequences, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

3) Don’t go from memory, read the label’s instructions.

Manufacturers change their formulas, the FDA updates guidelines, and your child ages and grows. All these things can be factors in the correct dosing. Always read the label before each use and make sure you know your child’s weight so you can administer the correct dose.

4) Use an accurate measuring device – not a dinner spoon.

When measuring liquid medications use the included dropper or measuring cup when possible. Regular kitchen spoons are not to be used because they are not uniform or accurate and you may give your child too much or not enough medicine. If you are not sure what the correct dose is please call your Advanced Health Pharmacist (even if you bought your OTC someplace else.)

5) Check with your doctor before using adult OTCs for your child.

Not all OTC products are ok for your child. Many can only be given to kids at least 12 years old. A quick call to your child’s doctor or your Advanced Health Pharmacist can help you choose the right medication for their symptoms. Also, they will make sure the active ingredient in the medicine will not cause a problem with your child’s diet or any other meds or supplements they may be taking.