Are Antibiotics Safe for Infants? - Conclusion

By Katharine Paljug @kpaljug
January 15, 2018

Ear infections, for example, are common to young babies, and most of them are bacterial. However, researchers have found that antibiotics improved the recovery of children with only specific symptoms, such as having an infection in both ears or fluid leaking out of the ears. Many other ear infections are able to heal without antibiotics. In many cases, researchers in a separate study concluded, the side effects that antibiotics cause are not worth the minimal benefit they provide.

However, there are times when taking antibiotics is the safest course of treatment for babies and young children. Upper respiratory illness or ear infections, for example, can cause dangerous secondary infections such as pneumonia or meningitis if they do not resolve. If there is a risk of this happening, your child’s doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics.

If your pediatrician does recommend antibiotics, be sure to finish the whole course of treatment to ensure that the infection heals completely. Research has found that probiotics help restore the healthy bacteria in your body, preventing uncomfortable side effects like diarrhea, so you can give older babies probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt or kefir.

How do you give a baby antibiotics?

It is important to fully finish any course of antibiotics that a doctor prescribes, but giving an infant or baby medicine can be difficult. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make it easier.

  • Ask your pharmacist to add a flavor to make the antibiotic taste better.
  • Use an oral syringe, and point it at the side of the baby’s mouth, rather than the back, to prevent coughing or gagging.
  • Give a baby something to look up at. When babies are looking up, many of them will open their mouths slightly.
  • Swaddle infants to restrain their arms and prevent them from knocking the medicine away.
  • Tell babies what is happening and why. Children understand language long before they can speak, so explaining what is happening may help them stay calm.
  • Remain calm yourself. Your child responds to your mood, and many babies will become upset if they sense a parent is frustrated or anxious.


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February 27, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN