If you’re not sure what to do, call PlunketLine 0800 933 922 for children aged 0-5 years. It’s a free phone line service for all New Zealand families. Registered nurses will listen to you, give you information and advice, and help you decide what to do for your child.
A doctor or midwife may prescribe medicine for your child when they’re sick or hurt, and you can buy some medicines over the counter at the pharmacy. It’s important to read the label to check how much medicine to give, and how often to give it. Give the right dose - the amount that the doctor, midwife or pharmacist recommends.
It’s not safe to give your child a medicine that was prescribed for another child or an adult, even if they have a similar problem. Talk to the pharmacist when you buy medicine at the pharmacy, to make sure that the medicine is right for your child’s age, weight and problem.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for an infection. Your child needs to take the antibiotics for as long as the doctor says, even if they seem better. This is important to make sure the infection has gone.
Don’t give aspirin to children because of the risk of a serious condition called Reyes Syndrome. Phone Healthline, a pharmacist or see your doctor if you’re not sure what medicine to give your child.
Paracetamol is useful for pain. It can take pain away, but it doesn’t take away the cause of the pain. If you use liquid paracetamol when your child is sick, read the instructions on the bottle to work out the right dose. If pain or fever lasts for more than a few hours, is severe or you’re worried, see the doctor to find out what’s causing the pain.
Things to remember about paracetamol
Too much paracetamol is a poison, and poisons more New Zealand children than any other substance. It can seriously hurt or kill a child. Liquid paracetamol is a bright colour and tastes sweet, so children may think it’s a treat. Children may open the bottle themselves and swallow it accidentally.
If you think your child has taken an overdose of medicine you need to see a doctor urgently or phone the Poisons Information Centre 0800 POISON (0800 764 766).