14 Tips for Parents Using OTC Medicines for Your Child

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  • Always read and follow the medicine label.
  • Check the dosing directions to make sure the medicine is right for your child’s age.
  • Always give the recommended dose and use the measuring device that comes with the medicine. Never use a household/kitchen spoon as a substitute for the measuring device.
  • Dose by your child’s weight when possible, following instructions on the label or from your healthcare provider.
  • Don’t use a medicine beyond (or past) the expiration date.
  • Don’t use oral cough and cold medicines with children younger than 4.
  • Only give the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
  • Don’t give a medicine intended for adults to your child.
  • Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to make your child sleepy.
  • Be careful not to double dose by giving your child two medicines that contain any of the same active ingredients.
  • Safely store all medicines up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
  • Never give aspirin-containing products to your child and adolescent for cold or flu symptoms.
  • If your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you, stop giving the OTC medicine and contact a healthcare provider immediately.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider if you have any questions.

For more information about safe medicine use with children, visit KnowYourOTCs.org.


Many rely on OTC cough and cold medicines to help children feel better when they are sick, and it is important that parents and caregivers know how to give these medicines to children safely. Treat with Care arms parents and caregivers with the information they need to safely give OTC cough and cold medicines to their little ones.


Funding and support for this material have been provided by the CHPA Educational Foundation.