Most Parents are Still Giving Kids the Wrong Dose of Medicine—Tips to Ensure You are Giving the Right Dose Every Time

posted: 09/27/17
by: Amanda Mushro
Cute sick girl being looked after at home in the bedroom

With cold and flu season right around the corner, you may find yourself handing out a few doses of medicine to your kids when they get sick. While we just want our kids to feel better, a surprising new study says that many parents are making dosing errors when giving liquid medicine to their children and may be doing more harm than good.

The study, which was published in the journal of Pediatrics, said more than 83% of caregivers that participated in the study made an error when dispensing liquid medicine. Researchers said using a syringe instead of a cup or spoon could prevent many of those errors.

"When parents used dosing cups, they had four times the odds of making a dosing error, compared to when they used an oral syringe," said Dr. Shonna Yin, an associate professor at NYU Medical School and a co-author of the study.

This is surprising for parents to hear considering most over-the-counter medicine comes with the small dosing cups. According to researchers, the problem with the little measuring cups is that "even if you make what looks like a small error on a cup that translates into more volume than it would on a syringe."

Most of the mistakes -- 68 percent -- involved caregivers measuring out too much medicine. The authors of the study said some of the confusion in the dosage comes from the labels of the medicine. While some medicines are measured in teaspoons others are in milliliters. As all parents know, when your kids are sick, no one gets sleep at night. So some of the dosage errors could be to over-tired parents handing out medicine.

Here's a few things you can do to ensure you give your little ones the right dose every time.

  • Dose in the Day- To avoid dosing too much medicine late at night, fill up the plastic syringe during the day and store in a safe place. At night, when your child needs the medicine and you are half asleep, you can give them the correct dose you measured out that day.
  • Medicine Reminder Hack: If I want to remember something, I need to write it down, but instead of writing notes on paper, use the bathroom mirror. Use a dry erase marker to mark the bathroom mirror with dosing times and what medicine you gave to your kids. This hack comes in handy when no one is getting a good night's sleep.
  • Read Labels- Make sure you only giving your kids medicine that treats their symptoms. This way your kids aren't getting too much medicine or the wrong type of medicine.