Keeping your toddler safe from medicines

Children can easily mistake pills for sweets. Here’s how to keep your toddler safe

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Childproofed your home? Don’t forget about medicines, be they the painkillers in a visitor’s handbag or pills in the cupboard. Here’s the vital safety tips you should know to help your toddler and child stay safe…

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Don’t coax your child into taking medicine by calling it a sweet

If you’ve got a poorly toddler who isn’t interested in taking her medicine, it can be tempting to fib a little to get it down. But don’t. “Never tell a toddler her medication is a sweet,” advises Pam Prentice, from the Child Accident Prevention Trust. “This will only confuse her and make her think it’s OK to eat pills as they’re a treat.”

Don’t take your pills in front of your toddler

Children learn by copying adults, so if your toddler spots you popping pills, chances are she’ll want a go, too. “Young children become interested in what adults – especially mummy and daddy – are doing from a very young age,” says Pam. “Always take your medicine in a separate room so she doesn’t see you and want to copy you by swallowing your medicine.”

Keep medicines safely out of reach of children

Keep bottles and pill packets right out of reach, just putting them away isn’t enough. “Check locations from your toddler’s point of view,” says Pam. “Get down on the floor and view handbags and bedside cabinets like your toddler would. You’ll soon see how easily little people can get to things, so make sure medicine is stored high up.”

Don’t rely on childproof packaging

You can’t assume just because your medicine has hard-to-open lids, it’s safe. “Childproof packaging is helpful in slowing your toddler down,” says Pam, “but if she does get hold of something, she might well be able to break through it, so always hide bottles out of reach, regardless of  the packaging it comes in.”

Teach your toddler to ask before eating anything

Instruct your toddler from an early age to always ask mummy or daddy before picking up something and eating it. If you catch her reaching for something, explain again saying it’s in case she eats something she shouldn’t. This will help her avoid eating poisonous berries, too.

Explain the dangers of taking medicines

“With older tots, from about 3 years, it’s worth talking through the reasons why she shouldn’t eat or drink medicines and pills,” says Pam. “Bear in mind, she could get confused over the information, so never rely on your explanation to keep her safe and always hide bottles and pack

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What to do if you think your toddler’s swallowed something

  • Check the floor around your toddler and the pill packet to see if she really has taken anything and what it is.
  • Get advice from your pharmacist, GP or NHS direct on 0845 4647.
  • Don’t give your child salt water or anything else to make her feel sick.
  • Find the bottle or pill packet and take it with you to the GP or hospital.

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