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When Your Child Needs Medication

image A sick child—could anything be worse for a parent? As your child sniffs, sneezes, and runs a fever, you often feel helpless. But there are things you can do to help your child get on the path to recovery.

Questions to Ask the Doctor

The first step is to ask questions at the doctor's office, especially regarding prescribed medications. It is your right and your responsibility to be an informed parent. You may want to bring a notepad so that you can write down all the information.

Helping Your Child Take Medication Safely

A child should never be left alone to take medication. An adult should always be involved. Here are some tips to help you give medication to a child safely:

Make sure to keep all medications in child-proof caps, and store them in a locked cabinet out of your child's reach.

Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Look at labels to make sure that any over-the-counter (OTC) medication doesn't contain aspirin.

The US Food and Drug Administration recommends not using OTC cough and cold products in children under 2 years old and supports not using them in children under 4 years old. Talk to your child's doctor or pharmacist before using any medications.

When Your Child Needs to Take Medication to School

Sometimes your child will need to take medication while at school. Each school has a policy on how it deals with delivering medication to students. Make sure you call the school and speak with the school nurse or principal to find out the school's medication policy. Here are a few standard guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Remember, you and your child's doctor are working toward the same goal—your child's health and well-being.


Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics

The National Association of School Nurses


About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

The College of Family Physicians of Canada


How to give your child medicine. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated October 2013. Accessed June 9, 2017.

Medication safety tips. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: Updated September 15, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2017.

Medications: using them safely. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated January 2015. Accessed June 9, 2017.

Murray RD, Gereige RS, Lamont JH. Policy statement—guidance for the administration of medication in school. Pediatrics. 2009;124(4):1244-1251.

Upper respiratory infection (URI) in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 3, 2017. Accessed June 9, 2017.

Last reviewed June 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 6/9/2017