There’s No Wiggle Room on Dosage

I’m a blogging ambassador for the CHPA Educational Foundation’s KnowYourOTCs program but guess what: all opinions are mine!

No matter the amount of kids you have; the parent-life is a harried life. Yes, we parents come to social media, and we joke about our kids, make fun of certain things they do, look for the newest parenting meme to laugh at and share because, OMG….SO relatable!! 

One of the long-time running parents jokes is, knocking your kids out with common over the counter medicine. I’m sure you’ve seen it a million time…heck, you’ve probably even said a few times. Something like:

Parent 1 – Ugh, these kids will not go to sleep! How is 9pm and they still won’t lay down and go to bed?!?
Parent 2 – Hey, slip them some sleepy-time medicine in their juice. They’ll be out like a light.

I’m never one to criticize any type of joke someone throws out there about their kid. I mean, I’d be a massive hypocrite if I did – I’ve literally created my whole persona around the idea of making fun of my kids. But this joke…this is a joke I’ve always made a conscious decision to never take part in. Why this joke? What’s so wrong about joking about drugging your kids to fall asleep, as compared to all the other crazy stuff I’ve talked about?

Well, besides the obvious – suggesting we do something to our kids that is unknown to them, like spiking their juice so they pass out, seems…well, gross and underhanded. I mean, someone said they did that to their wife/husband, we’d be screaming from the top of every mountain to get authorities involved. Why should our kids be any different?

Oops…sorry about that; my soap box popped out for a second. Now, where was I…aww yes…but the main reason I don’t joke about dosing my kids with over the counter (OTC) drugs, is because, it’s an actual problem in our society. And I would know…because it happened to me.

Before I get on with my personal story, I wanted to give you some quick insight on how big of a problem dosing of OTC medicine for kids really is. A new study, sponsored by the great people over at, examined the attitudes of parents when it came to administering OTC medicine to their children, and her are some of the results they found:

  •   Nearly one in four parents of young children don’t believe OTC medicines are strong enough to require precise dosing.
  • One in five parents of young children believe using a household spoon is okay for measuring OTC medicines. 
  • OTC medicines, like all medicines, are serious medications. It is important that parents and caregivers know how to administer these medicines to children safely, as taking more than directed can lead to an overdose.
If something said a tablespoon of paint…would you do this? NO!!

When I read these facts, I was not shocked, because like I said, it happened to me. Sure, this would be an easy lay up if I wanted to emphasize, for the elevendy-billionth time, how bad of a job at parenting my mom did, but…I think we’ve covered that enough.

While I’ve blocked out much of my past; I still remember this day clear as ever. Because I legit thought I was going to die that day. I was 8 years old, and in the 2nd grade. My mother and I had just relocated (one of the million times in 18 years) to the Los Angeles area, leaving the only home I ever knew at the time (San Diego) behind.

My mom was starting a brand new position with her company…in fact it was a position created just for her, which meant long hours and a lot of work at the initial start up, until processes were hammered out. And, seeing as we lived in LA…well, Ontario to be exact…yes people, there is an Ontario here in the US as well, and no it’s not as cool as the one our Canadian neighbors have…our lives were spread out all over the place. Where we lived, where my mom worked, and where I went to school, as well as before/after school care, were nowhere near one another. And being a single parent, stretched thin with her time, and not to mention a working woman in the early 80’s, my mom was the definition of harried life.

I remember not feeling well one day when my mom picked me up after work. I told her my head hurt, and I felt woozy, but couldn’t really describe much else. Basically…I was probably getting the flu. My mom, being a child of the 60s, and started raising one in the 70s, she was like many of the parents of that time, and prescribed to the “Meh, wing it” parenting philosophy. She was tired, probably over it, as far as the day was, didn’t think anything could go wrong with your basic OTC medicine. She grabbed the bottle of liquid Aspirin, handed it to me while I was sitting in the bathtub, and told me to take 2 large swigs…and I did. What happened next has stayed with me, and will for the rest of life.

Within a few minutes, I started to feel even more off. Thinking I might throw up, I called for my mom to return to the bathroom. She returned, still tired and now annoyed, but right as she was about to snap at me, her face changed, and looked in a way I will never forget. I asked what was wrong, and as I reached to grab the towel to dry off, I realized my hand could not close. I looked at my hand, and found that it looked very similar to that of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters…no no kids…the good one…before your generation ruined all our good movies  😕

Actual photo of me getting out of the tub in 1986

My mom immediately threw me in the car…well, she got me dressed first…and took me to the nearest hospital. All seemed fine at first. Oddly enough, I wasn’t even freaked out. I thought it was just weird how my fingers began to fuse together. It wasn’t until we were in the waiting room, that things got real.

Nobody seemed too concerned when we first arrived; not even the nurse who checked us in. So, I didn’t feel the urge to be nervous…that is, until I found out that the swelling did not stop at my hands. The rest of my body began to swell. As my neck swelled, my air way closed. That’s right…I couldn’t breathe. All I remember was “trying” to tell my mom I couldn’t breathe, and me finding out she clearly wasn’t ever going to be my partner in a game of charades. Moments later…it was lights out.

The next thing I remember was waking up in the ER, on a gurney, with several tubes connected to IVs, which were connected to me. I was no longer looking like the poor man’s Louie Anderson. I had returned to my normal state.

A few hours later I was set to go home. The doctor told us I had an allergic reaction to the Aspirin, and my body got hives from the allergy. The swelling however, was because of the…and this is exactly the words the doctor used, Abnormally LARGE dose of anti-inflammatory in my body. In fact, it was double what they would have recommend an adult male to take. Oh, and it was expired to boot.

So, all in one afternoon, I went from feeling like I would have a bummer weekend with the flu, to thinking, Wow, 8 years…that’s all I get?

Parents, with the upcoming cold and flu season fast approaching, do yourself a favor…visit the website, and read up on all the helpful tips for proper dosing for your kids. Tip like these:

  • Before giving a child medicine, always read and follow the directions provided on the Drug Facts label.
  • It is important to use the dosing or measuring device that comes with the medicine. Do not use common kitchen spoons to measure as they are not meant for measuring medicines. Be precise with the right device!
  • Never give two medicines at the same time that contain the same active ingredient (for example, some multi-symptom cold medicines may contain acetaminophen).
  • Always speak to your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if you have any questions.

And finally…if you’re one of those people that thinks tablespoon literally means a spoon from the table…please…stop having children. You’re making it difficult for the rest of us.


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