5 common mistakes parents make treating sick kids at home

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DENVER -- As parents we always want to do what’s best for our kids, but pediatricians say there are some very common mistakes that parents make when they are taking care of sick children at home.

Dr. Tai Lockspeiser, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the No. 1 mistake she sees is when parents panic about a fever.

A child’s temperature has to be 100.4 to be considered a real fever, and even then parents don’t need to run for the medicine cabinet unless a child is uncomfortable, Lockspeiser said.

“Normal fevers 101, 102 even 103 or 104 aren’t going to harm the child at all.  It’s a good thing.  It’s the body’s way of fighting an infection,” Dr. Lockspeiser said.

Mistake No. 2 is using over the counter cold and cough medicines.  Research shows they don’t work in children under 12 and they can be hazardous.

Doctors suggest using a humidifier for congestion, and giving a spoonful of honey to kids over one year old for a cough.

Mistake No. 3 is pushing your doctor for antibiotics.  Those drugs only work on bacterial infections, not for a cold, the flu or any other virus.

“They can have problems too in terms of causing diarrhea, allergic reactions and resistance in the bacteria,” Dr. Lockspeiser said.

Mistake No. 4 is using a kitchen spoon to measure medications.  Teaspoons in everyday silverware vary in size and if you use one, you could end up giving your child the wrong dose.

Doctors say use a measuring spoon, or the device that came with the medicine.

Mistake No. 5 is using the wrong thermometer.

Doctors say for children less than a year old parents should use a digital thermometer in the rectum.  Older kids can use a digital thermometer in the mouth.