Pain relievers for children: Watch the dose!

When your child is in pain or has a fever, you may want to give them over-the-counter pain medication. But to be sure you’re giving them the right dose, it’s important to follow a few rules. 

Choose the right product for your child’s age

Analgesics for relieving fever and pain are available in concentrated drops, liquid suspensions (syrups), or tablets. 

Between the ages of 4 months and 23 months, infant drops are recommended. Since this formula is highly concentrated, the correct dose requires only a very small, easy-to-swallow amount. 

To accurately measure the dose, use the dosing device provided with the product (or a medicine syringe available from your pharmacist) and take the time to precisely measure the correct quantity.

Important: For children under the age of 4 months, talk to your doctor before giving them any over-the-counter medication. 

Children between the ages of 2 and 11 can be given liquid suspensions or chewable tablets: 

  • Liquid suspensions are less concentrated than drops, as older children are able to swallow larger amounts. 
  • Use the dosing device provided with the product to measure the exact dose. Do not use kitchen spoons (teaspoon or tablespoon) as they are not accurate enough. 
  • Children’s tablets are designed to taste good and be easy to swallow. They melt quickly in the mouth and can be chewed.

Children 12 and over can usually be given adult formulas, however most of these products are not designed to be chewed. If your child has trouble swallowing a whole tablet, there’s no reason they can’t continue taking children’s formulas. 

Choose the dose based on your child’s weight

The packaging on children’s medication includes a chart to help you determine the dose your child needs based on their age or weight. 

It is best to use the child’s weight rather than their age to determine the dose. The weight allows you to ensure the dose is appropriate for the child’s needs, especially if they are considerably lighter or heavier than average for their age. 

  • Double-check the dose each time you give medication to your child, as your memory can play tricks on you, especially if you’re not sleeping well because your child is sick, or if you’re alternating between drops for your younger child and liquid suspension for your older one. 
  • Keep the manufacturer’s dosage chart handy, for example on the wall of your child’s bedroom or on your smartphone.

Always talk to your pharmacist first before giving any over-the-counter medication to a child. 

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