Eight Medicines You Shouldn't Give Your Baby

Babies and children are much more likely than adults to have adverse drug reactions, so be careful when giving your baby prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medication. In fact, until your baby reaches 6 months consult a doctor before giving her any medication at all.

Here are eight medicines you shouldn't give your baby:

Never give your baby aspirin or any medication containing aspirin. Aspirin can make a child susceptible to Reye's syndrome — a rare but potentially fatal illness. Aspirin is sometimes referred to as "salicylate" or "acetylsalicylic acid." Read labels carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you're not sure whether a product is aspirin-free.

Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines
In October 2007 a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted to recommend that these medicines not be given to children under 6 years old. Studies show that these medicines are not effective to children under 6 years old.

Anti-nausea medications
Don't give your baby an anti-nausea medication (prescription or OTC) unless her doctor specifically recommends it. Most bouts of vomiting are pretty short-lived, and babies and children usually handle them just fine without any medication.

Adult medications
Giving your baby a smaller dose of medicine meant for an adult is dangerous. If the label doesn't indicate an appropriate dose for a baby her size, don't give that medication to your baby.

Any medication prescribed for someone else or for another reason
Prescription drugs intended for other people (like a sibling) or to treat other illnesses may be ineffective or even dangerous when given to your baby. Give her only medicine prescribed for her and her specific condition.

Anything expired
Toss out medicines, prescription and OTC alike, as soon as they expire. Also get rid of discolored or crumbly medicines — basically anything that doesn't look the way it did when you first bought it. After the use-by date, medications may no longer be effective and can even be harmful. Don't flush old drugs down the toilet, as they can contaminate groundwater and end up in the drinking water supply.

Extra acetaminophen
Some medicines contain acetaminophen to help ease fever and pain, so be careful not to give your baby an additional separate dose of acetaminophen. If you're not sure what's in a particular medicine, don't give her acetaminophen or ibuprofen until you've first gotten the okay from your doctor or pharmacist.

Chewable tablets are a choking hazard for babies. If your baby's eating solids and you want to use a chewable tablet, crush it first, then put it in a spoonful of soft food, like yogurt or applesauce. (Of course, you need to make sure your baby eats the entire spoonful in order to get the complete dose.)