Helping your Child get the Best from their Medicines

Pharmacy Department Colchester Hospital 01206 742161

Children’s Ward 01206 746208 or 746209

Children’s Elective Care Unit 01206 744237

Children’s Assessment Unit 01206 746200

Medicines advice for patients and parents

This digital leaflet is designed to provide you with general advice on helping your child get the best from their medicines and signpost you to further sources of information if you have more questions.

More Information

Store your medicines at the appropriate temperature indicated on the box. Keep them out of direct sunlight and in their original container, do not transfer them to another container. Make sure the cannot be seen or reached by children or vulnerable adults.

Your child’s medicines have been prescribed for only them to take, nobody else.

Make sure you understand exactly how and when your child should be given their medicines. If the label says ‘use as directed’ or ‘take as directed’ make sure those directions have been clearly explained to you before you give them to your child. The amount of medicine to give has been determined by the doctor who prescribed it, the pharmacy who dispensed it or the nurse providing the medicine to you from the drug cupboard in the area your child has been treated. The amount you have to give is based on your child’s age and weight – if you are not sure, you must check this before leaving hospital because giving too much or too little of the medicine can be bad for your child.

Do not stop giving your child medicines even if he or she feels better, unless your doctor agrees. Anything less than a full course of treatment can stop your child from getting completely better even though he or she feels well again.

Some of your child’s medicines will need to be continued by your GP. Ensure you contact your GP in plenty of time to avoid running out of medicines, especially if you think the medicine will run out over a weekend. Some medicines may take some time to arrive from a ‘specials’ supplier via your pharmacy- they should inform you if the medicine takes a long time to be ordered in and if there are any special storage requirements. Some medicines can only be supplied by a hospital, check this with the prescriber or at the pharmacy when you collect the supply.

The patient information leaflet may state ‘not recommended for use in children’ but do not worry. The medication may be well established for use in adults and adjusted for use in children. Your doctor and the pharmacy staff have lots of experience in providing different medicines for children with plenty of evidence for its safety and use. If you are worried or unsure, do speak to your child’s doctor or pharmacist.

Tell the pharmacist about any other medicines your child takes as this will help guide them on the best over-the- counter products such as pain relief, cough and cold remedies.


There is a whole host of information for medicines use in children at You can search for specific medicines or use the A to Z list.

You will find more information about your child’s medicine in the patient information leaflet provided with it. If you have received a medicine but no leaflet, please ask your pharmacist to get one for yo

Most people take medicines without suffering any unwanted side effects, but all medicines have the potential to cause problems. The benefit of taking it is expected to be greater than the risk of suffering any unwanted side effects. Your patient information leaflet will list all the known side effects linked to the treatment.

The risk of having a side effect will be described in your patient information leaflet.

  • Very common means that more than 1 in 10 people taking the medicine are likely to have the side effect.
  • Common means that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people are affected.
  • Uncommon means that between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000 people are affected, 
  • Rare means that between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 10,000 people are affected, 
  • Very rare means that fewer than 1 in 10,000 people are affected.


For your child to get the most benefit from the medicine you need to give the recommended dose, for the length’ of time advised. In general, a high dose is more likely to cause side effects. However, high doses may be needed to ensure maximum benefit.

With some medicines, you start on a low dose and gradually increase the dose. With others, you will stay on the same dose throughout your course of treatment. Sometimes, when you need to stop taking a medicine, your doctor will gradually reduce the dose to avoid unpleasant withdrawal effects.

Check the patient information leaflet and speak to your doctor or pharmacist if your child seems unwell after the dose has changed.

Some side effects of medicines may need to be controlled by adding another medicine, for example, anti-sickness.

If a side effect becomes unmanageable, speak to your doctor who may be able to prescribe a drug to help or prescribe an alternative.

Give your child the medicine as advised by the pharmacist or the person who prescribed it. If you bought the medicine yourself, follow the dosage instructions on the packaging.

Be careful about mixing medicines. Some medicines should not be taken together. Before your child takes a new medicine, it is important to tell the pharmacist or whoever prescribed it, about any other medicines he or she may already be taking.

Don’t forget to tell them about herbal remedies or any non- prescription medicines you may have bought in a pharmacy or supermarket.

Be aware that some things can increase the chance of the medicine causing side effects. Your patient information leaflet will tell you about any known risk factors and what you can do to reduce the chance of side effects. For example, you may be able to lower the risk of side effects by giving the medicine with food.

It depends on the medicine and the person. Some side effects can happen immediately (for example an allergic reaction).

Some side effects might not start for several days or weeks (for example skin rashes) or even longer (for example stomach problems with some pain relief medications).

In general, side effects are most likely to happen soon after a new medicine is started or after your dose has been increased. Quite often, mild side effects will go away as the body adjusts to the new medicine or dose.

Check your patient information leaflet for information on side effects and action to take. If in doubt, speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist or call Pharmacy Medicines Information on 01206 742161.

For worrying or serious effects, you may be told to stop giving the medicine, or receive urgent treatment. If your child becomes breathless or you think the side effect is life- threatening, call 999. For less serious side effects, you may be advised to continue with your medicine, or change the dose.

Although most medicines will not affect your lifestyle, some can. For example: 

  • some medicines may affect your child’s vision or coordination or make him or her sleepy. This may affect their ability to ride a bicycle or perform skilled tasks safely 
  • your child may need to stop drinking or eating certain foods while taking some medicines. 

Your patient information leaflet will tell you about the effects a medicine might have on lifestyle issues and things your child should avoid.

All licensed medicines come with a patient information leaflet. This gives information about what the medicine is for, how the medicine should be taken and it will list reported side effects. This does not mean that your child will experience these side effects. Sometimes, medicines are used for conditions not listed on the patient information leaflet.

You should follow instructions the doctor has given you (as on the pharmacist’s sticky label). If you have any queries, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist. If a medicine does not have a leaflet it may be because it is from another country and in another language. If this is the case please speak to the pharmacist.

There are several resources you can use if you have any questions about your medicines or require more information.

The NHS website also provide helpful information on medicines, various conditions and medicines given to treat them at If you have any questions about your medicines, please contact the Medicines Information Helpline on 01206 742161, Monday to Friday, 9am-5 pm.

Before leaving hospital, you will be taught how to hold or support your child through the process of giving them their Medicines.

The amount of medicine to give should be clearly written on the sticky label on the container of medicine and if in liquid form, this should be measurable using an oral syringe or medicine spoon.

When and how often your child takes the medicine is very important, be sure to find out before leaving hospital. If your child needs multiple medicines every day at different times, ask a nurse or a member of hospital pharmacy staff to help you put together a daily schedule to follow when you get home. Some medicines may need to be given on an empty stomach, some with food so it is important to know when to give which medicine.

  • Use special measuring tools – either a syringe, medicine spoon or cup, whichever is easier or your child feels most comfortable with. The number of ml will be marked on the tool itself.
  • The nurse or hospital pharmacy staff will supply the correct tool(s) for you or it will already be contained inside the box Do not use ordinary eating spoons to measure medicines as the vary quite a lot in size and won’t give you an accurate measurement.
  • Do not use a measuring syringe from one bottle to measure medicine from another bottle as the markings may be different.

The medication should be slowly squirted into the inside of the cheek.

  • Hold your baby in a normal feeding position or put the baby in a high chair or car seat to give the medicine.
  • Slowly squirt the medicine through the mouth into the cheek. Do not squirt the medicine into the back of the throat as it may cause gagging or choking.
  • Gently hold the cheeks together and stroke under his or her chin to help with swallowing.
  • Some medicines can be mixed with milk feeds – use only a ½ to 1 ounce (15-30 ml) of formula or expressed breastmilk. Make sure your baby drinks all of the mixture.

Never put medicine into the whole milk feed.

  • To make it easier for your child to swallow a whole tablet or capsule, some tablets or the contents of some capsules can be mixed with soft food such as apple puree or chocolate pudding. Ask your pharmacist if this is possible as not all medicines can be given in this way • Pill splitters and crushers, which will help you give the correct dose, can be bought from pharmacies.
  • If giving a crushed tablet, it can be mixed with water or juice and should be given immediately after mixing, not left to stand then given.

  • Give it as soon as you remember.
  • If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose all together and return to your regular schedule. Never try to catch up by giving two doses of medicine at the same time.
  • Give the medicine for as long as your doctor tells you to. If unsure, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing or giving any medicine.
  • Wash all measuring tools with warm soapy water, rinse well and leave to air dry after use.
  • Store medicines as instructed by your pharmacist, out of reach from children and pets.
  • Keep an up-to-date list with you at all times of all your child’s medicines and how to give them.
  • Some medicines may need to be specially ordered and made specifically for your child which may give them a short expiry date. Let your pharmacy know in good time, at least one week before you run out completely.
  • If your child’s medicine suddenly becomes difficult to get hold of, your pharmacy should tell you and give you the opportunity to discuss an alternative with your GP or hospital doctor.

If you or a family member has recently been in Colchester Hospital, you can tell us about your experience by clicking on or by filling in a ‘Friends & Family’ questionnaire at the hospital.

If it will help, please use the following questions to make a note of your concerns before talking to your outpatient nurse or ward-based pharmacy staff.

If you would prefer to contact pharmacy direct please use the Medicines Information Helpline detailed below or write to us: Medicines Information, Pharmacy Department, Colchester Hospital, Turner Road, Colchester, CO4 5JL or send an email to Medicines. [email protected]

  • Name
  • Ward
  • Do I need to use any special devices to manage my child’s medication?
  • I am worried about the medication my child is taking. Their list of medicines is as follows…

If you require any advice regarding medicines received from our Trust please call the Medicines Information Helpline on 01206 742161, Monday to Friday, 9am-5 pm.

Please refer to the patient information leaflet inside the box or on the outside of the bottle before giving your child medicines; it will give you details about the prescribed medication, including side effects to look out for. Please have the medicines with you when you call.