Lock up your medicines


There is no such thing as a perfect parent and I am certainly not claiming any prizes for parenting but this week really gave my parenting skills a kick up the backside.

All my kids have had some ailment or another this week.  My baby girl had a dose of croup and I had her at home for a couple of days, my little man seemed to have some urinary issues including some pain when going to the toilet and my oldest had a toothache.


The calpol and nurofen were flowing.  They are usually kept in the highest shelf in an upper press in the kitchen.  There are times I can’t reach them, let alone any of the kids but with the number of doses going I accidentally left a bottle of calpol six plus in reach this week just after I gave my 7-year-old a dose.

I was about to head out on a bike ride.  My little man told me he needed some medicine but I was all out of calpol infant so told him I would buy some later.  While getting jackets and shoes on to go out my little man went off to get his shoes.  He came back pleased as punch with himself.

“I got my own calpol mammy” as he showed me a bottle of calpol six plus. WHAT!!  I went into totally freak out mode.  I grabbed the bottle and asked if he had taken some.  Yes, he said.  I looked at the bottle.  There was some left.  I was in a panic.  Do I just call an ambulance? Make him get sick? I looked at the bottle and it said “In case of overdose seek medical advice”. I didn’t even know how he got passed the child lock.  So not only did I leave it lying around but it was presumably not closed tight shut.

I got myself calm and rang my husband.  We agreed we needed to try to assess how much he had taken and then call for medical advice and be in a position to be able to tell them how much he took.

So I spooned out 5mls doses of what was left in the bottle.  25mls left out of 60mls.  I also knew I had given my daughter three 5ml doses in the previous 24 hours so that was another 15mls. 40mls in total.  I also knew that the bottle was not full when I started my daughters doses – we had used at least two doses over Christmas when everyone was a little under the weather.  That left a maximum of 10mls that he could have taken.  I still wasn’t even 100% sure he had taken any – he is not great at answering questions and was hysterical himself when I told him how dangerous it was to mess with medicines.

I asked him again how much had he taken – he said two spoons.  It tallied as that is how much he takes of calpol infant but of course this is double dose stuff.

I was a little relaxed but it was an overdose nonetheless.  I called the VHI nurse line who reassured me he should be fine but not to give any more calpol for at least 24 hours and to call the National Poisons Unit in Beaumont Hospital.

They were very helpful.  Told me it wasn’t a toxic dose and not to give him any further doses for 24 hours.

PHEW!!!!  What could have been so much worse turned out fine.  For his age he is allowed 1000mg of paracetamol per 24 hours and he got 500mg in one dose.  Not the way to do it but thankfully not a medical issue.  I felt so stupid but it happened so easily – like so many toddler incidents.  Blink for a minute and you miss it.  No point beating myself but big lessons learnt:

1. By my son not to mess with the medicines – only mammy gives them.

2. By mammy – close the medicines tight and put them back up in their storage place immediately after use.



    • Thanks Sadbh! Yes was a fraught few minutes! We got lucky. Thankfully he was just trying to be independent administering his own dose – not realising there is such thing as six plus!
      Can never let the guard down!!

  1. You just can’t take your eyes off them for a second! What a fright! I’m a divil for putting stuff “up high” but they are also divils for climbing and if they wanted to reach it, they could. Also the press under the kitchen sink is our Dangerous Press. The child locks are not the hardest thing in the world to work – I reckon the doggy could do it at this stage. Note to self: Get proper first aid kit. And leave it in the attic. On another note – my SIL’s 3 year old was able to find the matches AND the removed striker strip which was in another room, both of them also Up High. He took them into the sitting room and had a great old time striking matches. The only reason she found out was because he proudly told her he “didn’t burn” himself!! She’s still not over that one!
    Gwen – Wonderful Wagon recently posted…Outfit of the DayMy Profile

  2. What a frightening experience. There is such a fine line between no worries and tragedy. I remember when I was working in a childrens A and E we got in two little boys who had helped themselves to panadol. They both ended up in ICU very sick. Sadly one didn’t make it. I was so shocked at the time, such a tragedy.
    Your post is a timely reminder, as I think we’ve all been there, no matter how vigilant we are.

  3. Thanks Tric. I really did get lucky. He was genuinely administering himself what I usually give him – two spoons of medicine not realising it was double strength.

    Your stories are tragic – for the first seconds I was imagining the same until I pulled myself together to assess the situation.

    Thankfully there were no ill effects and he is bouncing around not a bother!

    I hope the post does help to remind! I don’t mind making myself look like a fool if it does 🙂
    Lucy – Learner Mama recently posted…Lock up your medicinesMy Profile

  4. Poor lucy! You must have been beside yourself. We’d a similiar one a few years ago but waaaaay more our fault – when we both climbed back into bed after tending to woken 1 year old only to mention how we’d both given him a dose of calpol! After sleep-dosing our child we’d a similar call to d-doc 24hr service and referral to poisins unit. All was fine but talk about negligent parents x


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