Anyone who has ever attempted to administer drugs on a baby would confess that it’s a stressful exercise for everyone concerned, including the baby.
Experts warn that children are more sensitive to medications than adults are; and that when administering drugs, care must be taken to ensure that the dosage is adhered to.
“If given in the wrong dose or at the wrong time, even some of the most benign over-the-counter medicines can be ineffective or harmful,” says a Consultant Pharmacist, Dr. David Omudhome.
Omudhome counsels that when you want to administer drugs on a baby, it is important to know the possible side effects such a drug might produce, while it is also important to know how soon a particular drug will begin to have effect once administered.
He adds that it is necessary to know the dosage and how long it should be given, while the interaction of the drugs with any other drugs the child may be taking is also very important.
Again, experts warn, certain foods may not be eaten when a child is on some drugs, while the temperature under which drugs must be kept also matters.
According to General Practitioner, Dr. Kola Ogunboye, some medicines should be kept under certain conditions, such as in the refrigerator, away from the heat or shielded from light.
“Some drugs may not be put in the baby’s food, as some parents are wont to do in a desperate bid to make the child take the drug,” Ogunboye says.
Sometimes, too, for whatever reasons, the parent may skip giving the child the drug, thus unable to compete the dosage for the day. When that happens, Ogunboye says, it is better to see the physician who will review the situation and advise as necessary.
Omudhome notes that some medicines are to be taken after eating or, conversely, on an empty stomach. “Others are absorbed into the body more effectively if they’re accompanied by particular foods. All these are facts that parents need to know when administering drugs on babies,” he says.
Now, how do you give your baby drugs?
Omudhome urges the person who is administering the drug to read the label very carefully. “This is very necessary because it will determine how well the entire exercise will go,” he warns.
Ogunboye says it is also very important to follow the directions on the package to the letter in order to ensure that your child is getting the right dose for his age and weight. “If you don’t understand the instructions, take the drug to a pharmacist or doctor,” he counsels.
The physician urges parents to examine the numbers in the directions very carefully so that dosages are neither doubled nor halved accidentally.
Again, the World Health Organisation advises that drugs should be given based on the child’s weight. “As such, to successfully give your child the right dose of drugs, have your care giver weigh your child and then, let them explain the dosage to be given based on that,”Omudhome says.
Ogunboye says you must also shake liquid medicines before administering to your child. “That way, the ingredients of drugs that usually settle down will be evenly distributed, so that the baby will get the right dosage,” he says.
There is also the need to know the difference between a teaspoon (tsp. or t) and tablespoon (Tbsp. or T), the experts say; adding that for children, drug measurements are basically done with teaspoons and never with tablespoons.
Again, the experts caution against giving a child more medicine than the doctor prescribes or as stated in the instructions.
“Even if a child has a severe cold, ear infection, sore throat, or fever, more medicine isn’t better. Dosages are based on the amount of medicine that’s safe, not on the severity of the illness. Learn to observe that,” Ogunboye states.
Omudhome says certain medicines come with side effects, while individual reactions to drug vary. “Call your child’s doctor if you notice any unexpected side effects after administering any drug,” he counsels.
If you do make a mistake and give your child a bit too much medicine, it’s not likely to do him any lasting harm — but check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure, experts further counsel.
They add that if, for any reason, your child can’t or won’t take the right amount of medicine, perhaps because he is vomiting and can’t keep anything down, inform the doctor without delay.
“The doctor may choose another method, including injection or intravenously, for example. The doctor will determine this as appropriate,” Ogunboye assures.
Finally, don’t give your child another child’s prescription, or an old prescription that you once got in the hospital, even if for the same child.
“This is necessary in order to prevent a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome — a very rare condition that can cause serious liver and brain damage,” Ogunboye warns.