Can I Give My Child Painkillers?

Cough Medicine and KidsBoth paracetamol (known as acetaminophen or Tylenol in the US*) and ibuprofen are safe and effective painkillers for children. However, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dose. If you’re not sure, get advice from your pharmacist, GP (pediatrician*) or health visitor.

Medicines aren’t always needed for childhood illnesses. Most illnesses get better by themselves, and make your child stronger and able to resist similar illnesses in the future.

Always keep medicines stored in a safe place at home.

Paracetamol for Children

Paracetamol (acetaminophen*) can be given to children aged over two months to relieve pain and reduce fever (high temperature). Make sure you’ve got the right strength for your child. Overdosing is dangerous. Check with your pharmacist when you buy it and read the label carefully.

Ibuprofen for Children

Ibuprofen can be given to relieve pain and reduce fever in children aged three months and over who weigh more than 5kg (11lbs). Check the correct dose for your child’s age. Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma, unless advised by your GP (pediatrician*).

Don’t use Aspirin

Never give aspirin to children under 16 unless it’s specifically prescribed by a doctor. It has been linked with a rare but dangerous illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Giving your Child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen

Liquid paracetamol (acetaminophen*) and ibuprofen are available for babies and younger children. Older children may be able to swallow paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets with plenty of water.

Soluble paracetamol tablets that dissolve in water are also available. You can get ibuprofen powder that dissolves in water, but this is only suitable for children over 12.

It is important to:

  • Make sure you know how much medicine to give your child and how often to give it
  • Always follow the instructions on the label to make sure you give your child the correct dose for their age and weight
  • Never give the medicine more often than your GP (pediatrician*) or pharmacist recommends, and don’t take any more than the stated dose

Remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of children and out of their sight, if possible.

For more information, including when to get medical advice, see:

Read the answers to more questions about children’s medicines.

Further information:

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US audience.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-10-2015 to 08-16-2015

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
If Your Child’s Instagram Selfies Aren’t Private, This Site Might Sell Them To Total Strangers

Back to School Dental Check-Ups

back to school child dental xraysIt’s that time of year again! The summer weeks are quickly winding down and school days will soon be upon us. Right now, you’re probably in the midst of helping your child get all of those back-to-school necessities in order. In addition to gathering up school supplies and scheduling physical exams, have you remembered to schedule their back-to-school dental checkup?

Routine dental appointments are imperative to helping your child maintain a healthy smile, both now and in the years to come. Scheduling an appointment for your child right before he or she goes back to school is typically the most ideal time for parents and children alike. This way, you can avoid having to take your child out of school for the appointment, and can check one more item off of your list of things to accomplish before they are back in the classroom again.

It is suggested that your child begins seeing the dentist by the time their first baby teeth start to grow in, and then schedule a regular checkup every 6 months following. This preventative care is key to ensuring your child’s teeth are developing properly and are in healthy condition. Preventative care is also much easier and much less expensive than what it takes to correct any issues that could arise without regular dental care. Some of these issues can include cavities and decay, which can cause pain and a lot of damage if not treated right away. Poor tooth development can also lead to problems down the road, and might mean the need for extensive orthodontic treatment.

During a regular dental checkup, the dental hygienist will clean, polish, and floss your child’s teeth to remove any food particles, bacteria, and plaque build-up. The hygienist will also take x-rays of your child’s teeth to get a closer look at the teeth’s development and to help spot any decay that might not be visible to the naked eye. The dentist will then examine your child’s teeth and study the x-rays to make sure there isn’t anything abnormal. Fluoride is applied at the end of the appointment, which helps protect the teeth from bacteria. Dental sealants, a plastic coating that is brushed on to the chewing surfaces of the molars, can also be applied to your child’s teeth. Sealants are highly recommended as another protective measure against harmful bacteria.

If any issues do come up in your child’s appointment, your dentist will explain the problem and discuss the proper steps to take in regards to your child’s treatment. If there is a cavity, treatment will likely include the need for a filling, or possibly a dental crown if the decay has taken over a larger portion of the tooth. If your dentist notices that your child’s teeth and jaw aren’t quite developing as they should, a visit to the orthodontist might be suggested for further evaluation. Your dentist might also have some orthodontic training and can provide the necessary treatment options for your child.

A back-to-school checkup is essential for your child to have a healthy start to the school year. Don’t forget the importance of at-home dental care, too. Help your child maintain those pearly whites by brushing and flossing each and every day until it’s time for their next checkup. Their health and their smile will be better off because of the care that is given to their teeth today.

What Age Should I Get My Child a Dog…and What Should We Get?

My last few articles focused on how to introduce your new baby to a dog you already have, and how to ensure they grow up well together. But in this post, I wanted to focus a bit on a question I have been asked numerous times….. “What is a good age to get my child a dog?”

sad puppies shelterOver the many years I have been working with dogs and their people, I have heard so many different responses to this same question: “I promised my son a dog when he was old enough to take care of it” and “I told my daughter if she does well on her report card, we would get her a dog” and I have also seen the after-effects of this; the child reached the age the parent thought was necessary for them to get the dog, now the dog is used as a threat… “It’s your dog…. You wanted him and promised to take care of him. If you don’t clean up after him, we’re getting rid of him.” I have even had multiple customers call, asking me to take the dog to my house as a way to ‘show the child we mean business.”

So, let me explain a few things to help you make an informed decision on when it is right for your family to have a dog, and what dog might best suit your family. First, notice I said ‘for your family to have a dog.’ It is not realistic to think any child can be completely responsible for the care and well-being of a dog. While a child can help with many responsibilities, always remember… you will be the primary care taker. Ultimately, the right age for your family to get a dog is when it is something you want and you are ready for the commitment.

If you have made the decision that you want (and are ready for) a dog, the next step is research. Learn what you can about the different dog breeds. It is not enough to Google something like “Best Dogs For Kids.” It is not a bad place to start… and may list some breeds that are generally not good with kids, like a Chow Chow or a Lhasa Apso, but it is way too general. Just like every child is different, so is every dog. You want to do this prior to walking into a shelter or finding a breeder because these places have a way of tugging at your heart-strings, and the majority of the time, you will end up getting a dog on impulse. Whether it is because you couldn’t bear to leave the dog there, or because it is just so adorable… Remember, all puppies are adorable, but just like your kids, they grow up. So having a basic knowledge of dog breeds will help in your decision. Also, you don’t want to choose one for an individual family member (yourself included) but decide on what is going to be best for the entire family.

I had a friend that had decided to get a puppy, only she insisted it had to be very tiny… what they call a ‘teacup’ Yorkshire Terrier. She had a two year old and a four year old. I told her I did not think this was a great breed for her specific family. When she insisted she had always wanted one, I told her, “If you had always wanted a two seat convertible, and you were pregnant, would this be an ideal car for you?” Sometimes you can get away with saying things to a friend to get your point across that you just couldn’t say to a customer!

So how do you choose?

I have compiled a list of some important questions that may aid you in your decision making process.

  • What are their ages? This is an important question because if you have a small or young child, a tiny dog might not be the best choice for you, as it wasn’t for my friend. Why not? Because little kids’ hands are often unsteady, or move very quickly… two things that can frighten a small dog, or make them feel like their safety is threatened. This is when they tend to go into the ‘fight or flight’ mode we talked about in other articles. And a very large breed dog can easily knock over a toddler or young child. So for these reasons, a medium sized dog might be your best option. One that is big enough to feel secure with small hands, but small enough to not topple over a little child.
  • Are there any allergies? For those of you that do not know what it is that makes people allergic to dogs, there are three things that most commonly make people react: The fur, the dander, and the saliva. Many people mistakenly think that a dog with a short coat will shed less than a dog with a long coat, but it is actually the opposite. Dogs with a short coat usually have fur, while most dogs with long coats have hair. Dog hair, just like our hair, grows, which is why they need to be groomed every 4 – 6 weeks (depending on how short you like to keep the coat.)
  • Are you a cleaning fanatic? Dogs with short coats, especially ones that may have feathering by the ears, paws, and tail need to be brushed so they do not become matted and tangled. The shedding is worse in the summer and the spring (what people call the shedding season). Dogs with long coats need to be brushed daily and be groomed to keep the hair short. And find out which dogs are droolers! If you are a neat-freak, a mastiff is not for you!
  • What are the finances like? Another important question. Big dogs come with higher expenses…. vaccinations and medicines, they eat more, have much bigger poops, etc.  Also, some boarding facilities charge more for larger dogs, so if your family vacations a lot, you might want to consider this a factor as well. A non-shedding dog needs to be groomed regularly. (Some people buy the clippers and learn to do it themselves to save money.) You also want to consider the genetic dispositions of a breed if finances are tight. i.e. many people get bulldog pups because they are cute, fat and wrinkled… but most do not know that in general, it is a very unhealthy breed, and requires quite a bit of money to properly take care of. They suffer from hip, skin, breathing and eye problems, have allergies, and have a short life-span.
  • Is your family a very active one or more sedate? Again, an important thing to consider. Many places are pet friendly nowadays, and allow you to take the dog with you. If you all enjoy camping, hiking and swimming, a dog like a bulldog who has difficulty breathing and a very low stamina is not the ideal pet for you. A Retriever or a Beagle might be a better choice. Same holds true in the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are a laid back family that prefers reading or TV, then a dog like a Weimeraner, who is in constant motion, will be more of a source of frustration for you than an enjoyable pet, and a dog like a Border Collie will not be content just lying around all day doing nothing… they are happiest with a job or task to focus on.
  • Dog Taking Happy Handsome Black Boy Child for WalkAre your kids outgoing or shy? A shy quiet child may not do well with a bossy herding dog, like the Australian Shepherd or a dog that needs a firm upper hand such as a German Shepherd or a terrier. Or even a Golden Retriever puppy that calms down quite a bit when they are older, but are definitely a handful and a ball of energy when they are babies! They may do better with something like a Havanese, who is content to hang out with humans of any age and rarely challenges authority. But the flip side of that is that if you have a very loud and boisterous family, that may frighten or intimidate a small dog like the Havanese. You might be better off going with a dog more secure with itself, like a West Highland White Terrier (Westie) or a Bearded Collie.
  • How helpful, in general, are the kids when it comes to chores? If every chore your child is asked to do turns into an argument, do not think the dog is going to be any different. They will enjoy all of the fun things with the dog, but it will become a battle when it is time to do the ‘not-so-fun’ boring everyday things, like feeding, brushing, walking and cleaning up after him. It is this reason I stress please do not use getting a dog as a reward for good behavior.  I have heard all of the promises kids make beforehand to get a dog, but rarely are they followed through with, especially when they have something else much more interesting on their minds than letting the dog out and waiting until he is done to let him back in.
  • How obedient do you want your dog to be, and what steps are you willing to take to ensure this happens? Remember, just like kids, dog are not born with good or bad manners, they have to learn them. But unlike children, what is instinctual and acceptable in a dog’s world is very different from what is acceptable in ours. Another potential issue is, if you decide on getting a rescue dog that is a little older, it has been raised in another person’s house… and what was acceptable to his original owner may be very different in your house. For example, getting up on the furniture may have been perfectly OK where he came from, but not in your house. So you have to remember that some training will be necessary. And although the kids can help with many of the dog’s needs, like feeding him, remember, it is very important that you always supervise their interactions.
    • You can’t just tell a child to ‘feed the dog’ without first teaching the dog to sit and stay and wait until their food is placed on the floor. An over-excited dog or pup is likely to jump up on the child, and may accidently hurt them.
    • Do not allow your small child to walk the dog on the leash outside until you have taught the dog not to pull. Otherwise, a nervous or excited dog can run into the street, pulling your child with them.
    • Finally, a small child will not know how to be very careful with a wire dog brush around sensitive areas like the eyes and ears, so they must be taught how to do it properly.

I will end this by giving you a link that may help you on your journey in finding the right dog for you and your family. It’s a questionnaire that you can fill out and it will give you several options of dogs that might be a good match for you and your family.

Still not sure…call a professional and ask their opinion – the IACP always has folks willing to help.

Happy dog hunting!

How Can I Keep My Baby Safe During Hot Weather?

Mom and baby in poolBabies and young children can become ill during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by:

Try these summer safety tips for keeping your child happy and healthy in the heat.

Sun Safety

Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun.

  • Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour and provides some protection from the sun.
  • Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer and between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to your baby’s skin. Make sure the product also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children as these products are less likely to contain additives that might irritate the skin. Apply the suncream regularly, particularly if your child is in and out of the sea or paddling pool.
  • Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun.

Avoid Dehydration

Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

  • If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you don’t need to give them water as well as breast milk. However, they may want to breastfeed more than usual.
  • If you’re bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you can give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day. If your baby wakes at night, they’ll probably want milk. If they’ve had their usual milk feeds, try cooled boiled water as well.

You can be creative when trying to keep your child hydrated. If they’re over six months old and they get bored with water, try giving them a combination of very diluted fruit juice, ice cubes and homemade fruit juice lollies throughout the day. For older children, plenty of fruit and salad will also help keep their fluid levels up.

Keeping Cool

Follow the tips below to help keep your children cool and safe during hot weather.

  • Playing in a paddling pool is a good way of keeping babies and children cool. Keep the pool in the shade during very hot weather and supervise the children carefully at all times.
  • Run them a cool bath before bedtime.
  • Keep your child’s bedroom cool during the day by closing blinds or curtains. You can also use a fan to circulate the air in the room.
  • Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. If your baby kicks or pushes off the covers during the night, consider putting them in just a nappy with a single well-secured sheet that won’t work loose and cover their face or get entangled during the night.
  • A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of your baby’s room. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).

Further information:

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 08-03-2015 to 08-09-2015

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Who establishes your child’s digital identity?
The avg parents will post almost 1000 pix before their child is five