Be sure to measure correctly and watch for side effects.

The next time your little one comes down with a cough or fever, pediatricians and pharmacists recommend measuring medication with a syringe rather than a household spoon or a measuring spoon used for cooking. Syringes help ensure that children get exactly the right amount of medication, which is critically important, experts say. Giving a child too little medicine will not alleviate their symptoms, but too much can cause serious—even life-threatening—issues. More than 7,000 children visit the emergency room each year due to medication-related problems.

The following tips for safe dosing come from healthychildren.org, a website affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Give the correct dose, measuring it out exactly. Use a medication syringe or dropper, preferably the one that came with product. One teaspoon is equal to 5 ml (cc). Kitchen teaspoons are not accurate enough to measure medicine. Follow recommended dosing times. If you forget a dose, give it as soon as possible and give the next dose at the correct time interval following the late dose. Be careful with over-the-counter medications, and give those that treat symptoms (such as a persistent cough) only if your child needs it and never to children younger than 2. Ask your doctor. Fever reducers can be given for temperatures above 102 degrees. Remember that fever is the body’s way of fighting infection. Do not casually use fever-reducing medication.

Once you’ve administered a medicine, watch for potential side effects, the doctors at the Nemours’ KidsHealth.org recommend. Alert your doctor or pharmacist to side effects such as a rash, hives, vomiting or diarrhea. Antibiotics are among the prescription drugs most likely to cause a reaction. Symptoms such as wheezing, trouble breathing or difficulty swallowing require emergency help.