Tips for Giving Antibiotics to Children

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They may be used as a short- or long-term treatment, depending on whether the problem is acute (started all of a sudden) or chronic (an ongoing condition).

Man giving written instructions and prescription bottle to woman. Children playing at table in background.
Give your child's day care instructions on how to give your child the medication.

Tips on Taking Antibiotics

To be effective, antibiotics must be taken correctly. Follow these tips for the best results.

  • Ask if your child can be given a prescription that needs to be taken only once or twice a day.

  • Ask if doses should be given with meals or spaced equally throughout the day.

  • Ask if your child should stop eating certain foods while on the antibiotic.

  • Be sure your child takes the medication as prescribed while attending day care or school or while staying in another household. Send a note with instructions to the teacher or other responsible adult.

  • Store the antibiotic correctly.

  • Measure liquid doses carefully.

  • Make sure your child takes the entire prescription.

Call Your Doctor

Most children can take antibiotics without a problem. However, side effects can occur. Call the doctor if your child shows any of the following:

  • Stomach upset, including vomiting or diarrhea.

  • Rashes, hives, or puffy eyes.

  • Yeast infections.

  • In rare cases, an allergic reaction may cause breathing problems that require immediate medical care. If your child develops problems breathing, has swelling of the lips or tongue, or collapses, call 911. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 1/9/2014
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