Children’s liquid medicines should be measured out in cups or syringes labelled in millilitres (mL) rather than spoonfuls, to prevent overdoses. This was revealed by pediatricians as they warned that tens of thousands of children end up in the hospital after unintentional overdoses each year, and the cause is often badly labelled containers or unclear directions. Parents tend to use common kitchen spoons to measure out their children’s drugs, which leads to errors in the dose.
Paediatrics says parents should use metric dosing when giving their kids liquid medicine. They warn that relying on household tablespoons and teaspoons could result in a dangerous overdose.
When dispensing medication to your child, it’s easy to grab a kitchen spoon, but don’t do it. Instead, reach for a medicine cup or syringe with metric measurements on it.
Spoons come in many different sizes and are not precise enough to measure a child’s medication. For infants and toddlers, a small error, especially if repeated for multiple doses—can quickly become toxic. Millimeters can be confused as teaspoons, and teaspoons can be misread as tablespoons, which are about three times larger. There’s too much confusion with different standards of measurement and differently sized spoons, and the ones you use to eat aren’t made to measure anything accurately. If a parent uses the wrong size spoon repeatedly, this could easily lead to toxic doses.
Most liquid medications will come with their own measuring devices, like a dosing syringe or spoon or cup. These are fine to use but it’s important to only use the one that comes in the package, keeping it with the product at all times and discarding it when the medication is used up. Errors have occurred when dose cups intended for one product was used with another with a different strength, so measuring a dose would be done differently.
To be safe, metric is the way to go. Significantly fewer dosage errors occur when parents use mL-based dosing rather than when they use teaspoons or tablespoons. So grab a metric medicine measuring cup or syringe and forget about pouring your kids’ medicine into anything else.