September 13, 2016

Put down that regular spoon. Proper cups and droppers are key to making sure kids get the right doses of their medicine for pain and fever.


The over-the-counter section of the pharmacy can be overwhelming, we know. Especially as a parent you want to make your child feel better fast – not stand in front of a wall of medicine choosing which to buy.

When it comes to fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, people often get confused about dosing. These medicines are safe for most children when given correctly, but too often mistakes are made. A new study suggests that many parents are making dosing errors when giving their children medicine.

Print out this guide on proper-dosing and put it with your medications for easy access next time you need it.



It’s important to remember that in healthy kids, fevers usually don’t mean anything serious is going on. A fever is not harmful and is often a sign of the body fighting infection.

Here are a few tips of when you should call the doctor:

  • For infants less than 6 months of age with a fever of 100.4◦F (38◦C).
  • A fever that lasts longer than a few days in any age.
  • Your child appears sick or has a rash.
  • Your child has a chronic medical condition.

Fevers can make your child feel uncomfortable, but you can do several things to make him or her feel better:

  • Give a sponge bath in lukewarm water.
  • Ask your child’s doctor about giving a fever-reducing medicine.
  • Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • NEVER use rubbing alcohol or aspirin to treat a fever in a child.

When giving your child medicine, always remember to:

  • Check with your child’s doctor before giving any new medicines.
  • Read all instructions!
  • Check the label for active ingredients. Don’t give your child two medicines with the same active ingredient.
  • The right dose: This is important because medicines need to be given in the right amount to be effective. Too much medicine can be harmful.
  • The right tools: Do not use a regular spoon! Instead, use the dosing cup or dropper that comes with the medicine or ask your pharmacist for a tool that can measure the right dose for your child.

For more information about fevers, check out our health library.

Vanderbilt’s Children’s After-Hours Clinics offer the convenience of a walk-in clinic with care provided by a board-certified pediatrician from Children’s Hospital. No appointment is necessary, but we recommend calling your pediatrician first. Learn more about services and find locations for Children’s Hospital After Hours Clinic locations.