Antibiotics are for bacterial infections only. Many children’s ailments—like cold, flu, and hand, foot, and mouth disease—are viruses, which means they won’t be treated by antibiotics.

Always talk to your pediatrician. They will diagnose the issue and tell you the recommended course of action.
If the pediatrician prescribes an antibiotic, remember these tips:

1. Follow instructions precisely. Pay attention to proper dose and timing. You may want to set a timer to remind you when it’s time for the next dose. It’s also a good idea to write down the time you give your child the antibiotic so everyone in the family can keep track.

2. Watch for allergic or adverse reactions. It is possible to be allergic to antibiotics. If any unexpected symptoms occur, like a rash or vomiting, call your pediatrician.

3. Give it time. An antibiotic won’t make your child feel better at the first dose. Give it a day or two to kick in. If your child is not better after 2-3 days, or symptoms are getting worse, should call or follow-up with their doctor.

4. Give the antibiotic for the entire prescribed time. Don’t stop the antibiotic early when your child starts getting better. The length of time is important to make sure the ailment is fully addressed.

5. Throw away any remaining antibiotic. If you reach the end of the prescribed duration and you still have antibiotic leftover, throw it out. Do not continue to give it to your child, and do not save it for future use or for another family member.
Remember, antibiotics won’t be prescribed for all illnesses. If you pediatrician prescribes one, be vigilant about proper time of day, dose, and length of time. Ask your pediatrician if you are unclear about anything.