"Sometimes with a cough, parents just want their kids to quit coughing, so they keep giving them stuff," Dr. Amanda Penny said.

A big number of those errors are when a child gets into medication that was left within their reach, or that doesn't have a childproof cap. Then there are the medication errors, even overdoses, that come from well-meaning parents.

"Sometimes with a cough, parents just want their kids to quit coughing, so they keep giving them stuff," said Dr. Amanda Penny with Children's Medical Group. "Or take Tylenol and Motrin. Some people like to alternate those medicines, but it can be confusing to parents."

Parents could be distracted when they give medicine to their child and not remember which one was given, and end up giving the child a double dose.

There is also the misconception that over-the-counter medicine is "safe", since you don't need a prescription. That can be dangerous thinking.

"Most over-the-counter medicine long ago, was a prescription," said pediatrician Dr. Will Sorey. "Along with needing a prescription, there were side effects. Cough and cold medicines are barely effective if they're effective at all. Yet, they still have side effects"

Both doctors tell parents to weigh the risk and benefits of using those medications. And keep in mind the age and weight of your child.

Dr. Sorey says there are very few medications that are proven effective and safe for kids under the age of two.

Bottom line?

"Treat all medication with respect," Dr. Sorey said.

For Parents:

·Know what you're giving your child. Not just the name brand, but what's in it. Some medicines may have acetaminophen in it, which is also the main ingredient in Tylenol.
·Follow the directions and give the right amount.
·Write down what and when you give your child.
·Don't allow kids to take medicine on their own
·Keep all medications out of children's reach, and make sure it has a childproof cap on it.

·Questions? Call your doctor
·Keep Poison Center Hotline handy: 1-800-222-1222

(Source: CDC, FDA)

Dawn R. Dugle is the Community Engagement Editor for The Clarion-Ledger. She is @MsWr1te on Twitter. Email news tips to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.