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Giving Your Children Medicine

When it comes to medicines, children are not just little adults. Here are some important tips to remember when giving your child medicine.

Only give your child medicine that was suggested by a doctor or pharmacist.

  • Never give children medicines meant for adults.
  • Don’t share prescription medicines with other children, including family members.
  • Don’t give cough and cold medicine that you bought at a grocery or drug store to babies or children who are 2 years old or younger.

Keep your medicine in the bottle that the medicine came in.

  • When you get your medicine from the pharmacy, ask for bottles that are safe for children.
  • Keep all medicines, including herbs, vitamins and supplements, out of reach ofchildren, or in a locked cabinet.

Use the right amount of medicine.

  • Only use the measuring spoons or cups that are meant for measuring medicine. Don’t use spoons or cups from your kitchen.
  • If you are not sure how much medicine to give your child, ask your child’s doctor or pharmacist.
  • Be careful if you give your child more than 1 non prescription cough or cold medicine. They may have the same “active ingredient” and could hurt your child.

Keep a list of the medicines your child is taking.

  • Use a medication list like "My Medicine List” to keep track of the medicines your child is taking.
  • Share your child’s medicine list with grandparents, babysitters, and his or her school.

Read the labels on the medicine to understand:

  • If the medicine should be given to children,
  • The names of the medicine’s active ingredients,
  • How much medicine your child should take, and
  • How many times a day your child should take the medicine

Call the Poison Center if you need help.

  • If you think that your child may have taken too much medicine or the wrong medicine, call the U.S. Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222.

Pharmacists are an important part of your health care team. To find out more about what your pharmacist wants you to know, visit