Children will often need to take over-the-counter or prescribed medication to help them feel better, manage pain, or treat an ongoing health condition. It is important to remember that children’s bodies react differently to medication than adults, and you should always speak with your pharmacist or GP about which medicine is right for your child.

Medicines information fact sheets

These fact sheets answer common questions about medicines and how they should be used in children.

Helping your child take medication

It may take a number of tries for your child to get the hang of taking their medication. It is important not to get frustrated and continue offering encouragement. It can also help to keep attempts to a few at a time then take a break and try again later if your child is becoming distressed.
Use a doll or teddy bear to show your child how to take their medicine. Describe what they will have to do so that their medicine works and can help them feel better (e.g. lying down on their side for a few minutes after they get their ear drops, or tilting their head back to get their eye drops).
Read the directions on the medication packaging and make sure you follow them carefully. Some medications are less effective or can make your child feel worse if they are not taken as directed (e.g. only using medications before their expiry date, or only taking certain medication after your child has eaten a substantial meal).
Giving your child some control of the situation, by letting them choose their favourite drink to take with their medication, which toy they would like to hold while you give them their medication, or how they would like to take their medication (e.g. with a syringe or cup for liquid medicine), can make them feel less anxious.
Make sure you tell your child what a good job they are doing each time they try or succeed at taking their medication and comfort them with cuddles.

Storing medication safely

It is important to store all medication, including over-the-counter products and alternative medicines in a secure place, out of reach of children.

  • Store medication out of reach, and out of sight of children (at least 1.5m high) in a lockable cupboard.
  • Ask your pharmacist to supply your medication in a child-proof bottle or container.
  • Never leave medication such as the contraceptive pill out on the bedside table.
  • Take out-of-date medication to your local pharmacist to dispose of safely or place in an outside bin so it cannot be retrieved and swallowed by children.
  • If you keep medication in your handbag be sure to keep it out of reach of children – don’t leave it in the back seat of your car with your child. Store medication kept in your handbag or car  in a child-proof container.
  • Put medication away as soon as it has been taken or purchased – many poisonings occur when medication has been left out on the benchtop, or while travelling home from the shops.
  • Make sure your child is well supervised when visiting other people’s houses, or other unfamiliar locations where medication might not be stored safely.
  • Keep medication that requires refrigeration in a tight-close or lockable container at the back of the fridge where it can’t be reached or seen by children.