8 Medicines That Should Not Be Given To Infants And Toddlers

4 min read

Written by Pradeep


Medications for infants
With progress of science and extraordinary achievements, most of the deadly diseases have been tamed. Vaccinations, pills, syrups – medicines are available in varied forms, shapes and sizes. You are having a headache, you simply pop a pill and have a nap – lo! you are as fit as before! This becomes a challenge when your little one needs medical attention. Many of us give medicines to children without consulting the pediatrician, maybe because it worked for someone else, or you know about it through others, or via media. But do you know the medicines you consider safe for your child may not actually be safe? Infact, you should not administer many medicines and OTC drugs for infant and kids under 2 years of age.

8 Medicines That Should Not Be Given To Infants And Toddlers

Below is a list of medicines which may do more harm than good to children under 2 years of age:

    1. Aspirin: Commonly sold under the names of aspirin, acetyl salicylic acid, Anacin etc. Aspirin is considered to be the first choice to alleviate fever, pain, swelling or cold. Most parents consider it to be a safe drug for children. But that is not the case at all:
      • When aspirin is given to very young children it may cause Reye Syndrome (a fatal condition damaging brain and liver). Although this disorder is rare but positively linked with viral and aspirin
      • The contradictions for Aspirin clearly indicate that it should not be given to children exhibiting flu like symptoms or chicken pox. It is one of the most common causes of poisoning in children
      • It should not be administered to children below 12 years of age and care should be taken that some medicines may contain aspirin, so watch out for scientific name of aspirin, salicylic acid
    2. Shared prescriptions: The medicines prescribed for other children, even siblings or your sister’s daughter who is of same age as your toddler is a big no-no!
      • The doctor has personally examined the other child, knows his/her previous medical history, any allergies or existing condition and moreover prescribed a medicine for a specific course depending on the severity of the condition in question. These factors vary from individual to individual and therefore, you can never assume that the same will work for your child
      • It’s important to note that medicines especially antibiotics should be strictly given as per the designated course otherwise this can cause the bacteria to become more resilient and deteriorate the condition of your child

Infant medications

    1. Over the counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines: Children become uncontrollably irritable when they suffer from congested nose or phlegm cough. Instead of visiting the pediatrician, the easy and supposedly convenient way out is the OTC medicines.
      • The Food and Drug Administration advises against the use of OTC in infants below 2 years
      • Side effects such as breathing problems, seizures, heart palpitation, convulsions and drowsiness are noted when such medicines are given to young children
      • Moreover most doctors are of the opinion that these medicines do not work for the intended purpose in children
    2. Antihistamines: They are usually picked for fighting allergies, cough and cold.
      • They quickly cause changes in the brain and therefore side effects such as confusion, inattentiveness and drowsiness are evident in young children
      • In children, antihistamines can cause constipation or difficulties in urinating since these affect intestinal and bladder muscles, weakening them temporarily
      • Other side effects such as blurred vision, dry mouth and stomach upset are also found in infants
      • Large doses of medicines containing antihistamines may cause irregular breathing and heart beat, which required immediate medical attention
    3. Adult medicines: Do not assume that the medicines that work for you will do so for your little one too.
      • Such medicines are mostly never tested on infants and therefore their effect on young children cannot be ascertained
      • In case of emergency, the dose should be less than that for adults
      • If the medicine does not specify that is is for kids, then it may not be suitable for kids. To avoid the worse, consult the pediatrician
    4. Chewable tablets: It’s difficult to make infants comply to your instructions, particularly when they are ill. Chewable tablets are commonly prescribed as calcium, antacid tablets or sometimes as antibiotics
      • Sometimes, these may choke the infant or remain stuck in the food pipe
      • Consult the pediatrician, if you can crush the tablet and mix it with water and sugar for easier consumption by the tot
    5. Expired medicines: Strictly follow the rule, that expired medicines, no matter how expensive should be chucked or properly disposed.
      • The expiry date denotes that the drug becomes ineffective or changes its properties after the specified time period. Therefore consuming expired drugs can be fatal
      • Also, if the medicine has not been stored as per the storage conditions, usually such as in cool dry place, or below 30°C it should not be used
      • It’s best to dispose the expired medicines appropriately to avoid accidental consumption

All medications are not safe

  1. Oral cortisone: Usually prescribed for severe allergies, asthma, reducing swelling, relieving eye and skin conditions.
    • It affects the immune system and lowers it
    • Prolonged use may affect child’s growth and may cause stunted height
    • Since this suppresses immune system it may dispose to very serious infections
    • This medication can lower the body’s resistance to put up with physical stress and therefore it must always be mentioned to the doctor if it has been consumed by your kid in last 12 months
    • If cortisone is administered with Non-steroidal ant-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin then it may cause stomach bleeding, imagine, the consequences in young children!

In addition to these, another most commonly used medicine is paracetamol. Although it is considered safe for babies above three months old, care should be taken that the overdose can harm the liver. It’s important to note that infants are more sensitive to drugs. Opt for more and more natural remedies, such as humidifier and warm drinks to alleviate congested nose. The mantra of using medicines safely with young kids is to “use as directed” or “as prescribed by the doctor”.


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