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Tips to Help You Give Your Child Medicine

A child who's sick with the flu doesn't always need medication. For example, Asta says you don't need to treat a light fever if your child is comfortable. For severe aches and pains -- or a fever over 102 F that makes your child uncomfortable -- over-the-counter medication can help. Just make sure to use these drugs carefully.

  • Choose the right drug. Pediatricians recommend child formulas of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for children's fevers and aches. You can use acetaminophen in children 2 years and older. For kids under 2, ask a doctor for the correct dose before using. Ibuprofen can be used in children 6 months or older. Never use aspirin in a child; it increases the risk of a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome.
  • Don't mix medications. Alternating between acetaminophen and ibuprofen raises the risk of accidentally giving your child too much medicine. Unless advised by your pediatrician, stick with one drug, and follow the directions carefully.
  • Give the right dose. Only buy medications that are specially formulated for kids in your child's age group. Measure the dose carefully in a well-lit room and use the dosing device included with the medicine. Don’t use a kitchen spoon or other measuring device. Never give your child an adult medication.
  • Make a note on a piece of paper each time you give a dose. That way you, your spouse, and the babysitter can keep track of when your child last got medicine -- and won't accidentally give too much or an extra dose.
  • Avoid cold and flu remedies in young kids. They shouldn't be used in kids under age 4. In older kids, it’s unclear how well they work. If you decide to use cold medicine, read the label and pick the medicine that most closely matches the child’s symptoms.
  • Don't beg your doctor for antibiotics. Influenza is a virus. Antibiotics only work with bacterial infections. They won’t help fight the flu.

Tips to Help Comfort Your Sick Child

Ever notice how children like to put bandages on the tiniest scrape or cut? That's because bandages make children feel better, even if they don't need one. It's the placebo effect at work.