How do you measure liquid medicines? Some cough syrups come with a measuring (or dosing) cup. The amount of medicine you should take is very specific, as is the number of times in a day that you should take it. Why use something as abstract as a dining teaspoon, tablespoon, or difficult-to-read levels on a dosing cup? Here is why oral syringes are a safe way to measure liquid medicines.
Why Oral Syringes are Safer
Oral syringes can be safer than other ways of measuring medicine. When you use a dining spoon, do you know if your dose is a full teaspoon or tablespoon when the medicine sits level in the spoon? If the dosing cup is in milliliters (mL) and the dosage instructions are in teaspoons, do you know how to convert the measurement?
In a recent study*, 2,110 parents of children up to eight years old were given sets of medication labels and tools. They were told to read the labels and measure out three amounts of medicine three times. The labels called for 2.5, 5, and 7.5 mL of the “medication.” The parents could pour the amounts as they chose. The study showed that 84.4% of parents made at least one pouring mistake. 68% of those pouring mistakes were overdoses. Of those overdoses, 21% were more than twice the amount that should have been poured.
How to Use Oral Syringes
Here are some safety reminders when using oral syringes, especially when giving liquid medicine to babies:
- If you’re giving over-the-counter medicine, make sure you understand the dosage, using your baby’s weight as a guide. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
- Check the measurements on the side of the syringe.
- If the oral syringe has a removable cap, take it off and throw it away.
- To fill, push the plunger all the way down, then put the tip of the syringe into the medicine bottle. You can also use a small cup with some of the medicine poured into it to fill the syringe. Slowly pull back on the plunger until the syringe fills to the appropriate mark.
- Make sure there are no large air bubbles in the syringe. If there are, empty the syringe and try again.
- If you used a cup to fill the syringe and there is medicine remaining, pour it back into the bottle.
When you give your baby the medicine:
- Hold your baby the same way you do when you nurse or feed him.
- Put the syringe into your baby’s mouth and gently squirt a small amount of the medicine between his tongue and the side of his mouth. Don’t squirt the medicine at the back of his throat because that’s likely to make your baby gag.
- Wait until he swallows the first one amount entirely before delivering more medicine. Make sure he has swallowed the entire dose before laying him down.