Tips for Giving Antibiotics to Children

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. They may be used as a short- or long-term treatment, depending on whether the problem is acute (started all of a sudden) or chronic (an ongoing condition).

Man giving written instructions and prescription bottle to woman. Children playing at table in background.

Tips on taking antibiotics

To work, antibiotics must be taken correctly. Follow these tips for the best results.

  • Ask if your child can be given a prescription that needs to be taken only once or twice a day.

  • Ask if doses should be given with meals or spaced equally throughout the day.

  • Ask if your child should stop eating certain foods while on the antibiotic.

  • Be sure your child takes the medication as prescribed while attending day care or school or while staying in another household. Send a note with instructions to the teacher or other responsible adult.

  • Store the antibiotic correctly.

  • Measure liquid doses carefully.

  • Make sure your child takes the entire prescription.

Call your health care provider

Most children can take antibiotics without a problem. However, side effects can occur. Call your health care provider if your child shows any of the following:

  • Stomach upset, including vomiting or diarrhea

  • Rashes, hives, or puffy eyes

  • Yeast infections


In rare cases, an allergic reaction may cause breathing problems that require immediate medical care. If your child develops problems breathing, has swelling of the lips or tongue, or collapses, call 911.