Pharmacist's Tips: Stay on Track with Your Child's Medications Over Summer Break

Saad and Ray Dinno

With the start of summer here, we know as parents that this can be an exciting yet stressful time of year. The days get longer, family and work schedules change, and we must adjust to a new “normal” for the following two to three months until the school bell rings again.

With this in mind, we offer some suggestions for parents to ensure that their kids stay on top of their medication during summer vacation.

First, let’s start with your child’s plans. Are they spending their summer at day camp? If so, use this added structure as an opportunity to create a new schedule for taking medication. For instance, if your kids need to take their medication in the morning, make this part of the breakfast routine, so that your child takes their medication around the same time each day.

Store the medication in the same place, and if necessary, set an alarm on your cell phone or smart watch as a friendly reminder. If your child needs medication while at camp, set up a meeting with the camp medical staff to inquire about daily activities, meal time and other questions you may have.

Clearly label any medication for the medical staff with how much to take and when to take it, and provide a contact list that includes your phone number along with your child’s pediatrician and pharmacist. Your pharmacist can split a prescription up into multiple bottles with labels so that medications do not get lost between home and camp.

If your child’s summer will be less regimented, it may be more challenging to create the same sort of schedule. Luckily, there is an easy solution. Compliance packaging is one way to ensure your child takes their medication. The packaging seals medication into individual pill cups and is labeled with your child’s name, the type and dose of the medication, and the time of day to take it.

Compliance packaging provides a precise and easy schedule to follow, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of when or whether your child took their medication. We recommend this system to many of our customers, especially those who may live a busier lifestyle or have a loved one on multiple medications. Check with your pharmacist to see if compliance packaging is available.

Even with a schedule in place, parents still may face the additional challenge of getting their child to actually take the medication, especially if the pill is too large or particularly unpalatable. Custom compounded medication is one way to solve this situation. Compounding pharmacists can work with your child’s pediatrician to create alternative forms of commercially available medications to suit the child’s particular needs. For example, pills or tablets can be converted into liquid form, and flavored to your child’s liking. If this is a challenge that you frequently encounter, talk to your child’s pediatrician to see if this is possible.

Another strategy to consider is to give your child a small amount of ice cream (if they have no dietary restrictions) before a dose which can, briefly, slightly numb the taste buds.

Whatever method you use to ensure your child stays on track with medication is fine. The key is to not fall off the prescribed dosing schedule, which can create significant medical complications.

At the very least, start with a written schedule, and check it regularly.

Most importantly, remember to relax and enjoy the days of summer. Autumn winds will be here before you know it.

Saad and Ray Dinno, brothers, are registered pharmacists and co-owners of Acton Pharmacy, Keyes Drug in Newton, and West Concord Pharmacy.