Suburban Vampires
Multiple Choice


WAIT WAIT ONE MORE, just because I cannot believe I missed the middle finger bit yesterday:


Seriously, I'm SLIPPING, you guys. 

Ezra's face is just fine today, and he is currently coated in three (3!) different bug-repellant sprays of various natural and toxic varieties. This is how I tackle problems: I just throw the entire medicine cabinet at them. 

We did visit the doctor yesterday -- technically we were already scheduled to be there anyway for make-up vaccines* but of course I managed to squeeze in a little conversation about OH HEY LOOK AT MY DISFIGURED CHILD. He's fine, though I recommend everybody go ahead and buy stock in Zyrtec and Benadryl this summer. 

And speaking of medicine cabinets and doctors' offices, indulge me while I engage in a few rants about the scintillating topic of children's medicines:

1) First up, thanks so much, TYLENOL, for the recent refund check we received from your recent recall. We chucked about $50 worth of your products -- including the hard-to-find dye-free versions because your Red #40-laden regular versions make my preschooler go apeshit, which is always a great combination with already-generally-sick-and-jerky-acting. It was especially awesome to toss out the almost-empty bottles that I'd been generously dosing everybody from all winter.

2) But actually that really doesn't have anything to do with anything else in this entry.

3) Just about every bottle of medicine we own (other than the infant versions, which are pretty much limited to acetaminophen and ibuprofen) does not list a dosage for a child Ezra's age. No weight guidelines, no nothing, just "do not use" or "consult a doctor." I know this is technically in response to a number of parents incorrectly dosing their children and causing a lot of inadvertent harm. And harm is bad! I am not a fan of harm! But can anyone honestly say that removing ANY recommended dosage from the labels is actually a BETTER idea? 

4) Because you know when kids get sick or swollen or asshole-y? After hours. When there's no one answering the phone at the doctor's office, and it's 2:15 in the morning and you're blearily staring at a bottle of never-used-but-about-to-expire Benadryl, wondering if you really do need to call some after-hours hotline or clinic or ER to find out how much you can give a 23-pound 19-month-old. For his mosquito bite.

5) And you know what? People don't call. I mean, I'm sure some do, but plenty don't. They Google. Or they totally guess. Which: Jeez, nothing bad will ever come of that, Children's Medicines Industry, oh noooo.

6) That said, the Internet told us a half teaspoon was a safe dosage for his age and weight, but Jason still insisted that Ezra sleep with us just so he could sit there all night watching him breathe because we are all so going to die of either mosquito bites or Benadryl overdoses, because my husband is kind of a total freak when it comes to his babies, IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED.

7) But then, at the office, the doctor was all, "Bitch, please. No wonder he looks like Eric Stoltz from Mask. Give him the whole freaking teaspoon, it's fine." 

8) *throws hands up in air, gives up*

*Hey! Did you know there's a well-baby visit at 15 months? And then another one at 18 months? And if you only remember the one at 18 months everybody glares at you because your baby needs about four frillion shots and like, is so going to get fucking polio now or something? It is true. I know this because I am a parenting expert on the Internet**. Also, because I forgot about the 15-month check-up and totally got glared at. 

**Which is to say: Do not use, consult a doctor. 


Hi, I'm Natalie.

Every doctor's visit, I ask when I should schedule the next visit. Then I put it into Outlook. Because if I didn't have Outlook, my life would become a DISORGANIZED SPIRALLING POOL OF DEATH. Ahem.





I'm going to get rotten tomatoes thrown at me here because I dose according to weight, not age. Because here's the thing - my two year old has asthma. And whenever he gets a head cold, because he's two and nose-blowing is something that he just can't get the hang of, mucus drains down into his lungs for a few days. Which then triggers his asthma, meaning I then have to dose him with both Ventolin and steroids to get him breathing normally and being happy again.

All of which can be avoided by giving him weight-appropriate doses of nasal decongestant as soon as he starts sniffling.

So do your worst, children's medicine industry!


i hate the whole "consult a doctor if kid is under 2" medicine crap. which is why i love google, combined with a phone call to my sister in law who is an ER doctor to confirm benadryl doses (hypothetically if i was going to give my kids some if were flying...)
for allergic reactions, i'd just pour the damn bottle down his throat.


We get dosing info at each visit but do you tink I put those helpful sheets where I can find them when needed, of course not, that means I have to be organized and that's not happening. I just try to remember and hope for the best.


Ask your pharmacist. Seriously. This is exactly the kind of question they're trained to answer and pharmacies keep longer hours than doctors' offices.


I totally skipped the 15 month visit for kid #2, too! And I got the glare, too! Bah. We were in so often anyway (pink eye, daycare cough, strange rash, etc..) I think we should get credit for the 15 month checkup.

Our Dr gave us a dosage sheet (by weight and age) and I taped it up to the inside of the medicine cabinet. It's saved me 3 times so far!

You got a check from Tylenol? Cool. Hoping to get mine, soon. (I bet they have to send a lot of those.) We go the dye-free route because my two think it's funny to spit it back out. HI-larious!


The Rocky Dennis reference made me spit coffee on my keyboard. Thanks for that!


It's endearing how protective Jason is, though. Considering some fathers are dbags and all.


Just because we recently discovered that zyrtec was making our 5 yo act like a maniac, zyrtec can possibly make your child act like a maniac. It took a few months for his behavior to go from "normal 5 yo slighly manic" to "apeshit manic" so we were on the verge of seeking professional help before realizing the connection. Just as an fyi, not fear mongering or anything like that.

Also, we dose according to weight as well. We were told to do so by our doctor. is my go-to internet dosing info portal.


I totally missed the 15 month check on my 2nd child. Called to schedule an 18 month check and got the same treatment from the scheduling desk. Fortunately, the doctor is way cooler.

Aunt Becky

Whoops! I totally forgot the 15-month AND 18-monthers. Color me BAD MOM.


I clicked through from my feed reader to see if you'd linked the text "in case you haven't noticed" to the post about the sticker on Noah and Jason's reaction. I still think of that post sometimes, especially now that I have a baby boy (and a very sweet overprotective daddy) at home.

Glad to hear Ezra is all better. That was quite the allergic reaction!


I hate that whole no dosage recommendation on the bottle thing. And if you DO happen to need advice at 11:00 at night and call the ER - they won't tell you anything useful. They just say "Well, we really can't give out medical advice over the phone (you incompetent, procrastinating, irresponsible mother) so if you are concerned you probably should bring him in."

Ya. Drive 40 minutes, wait two hours just to be processed in, pay a $50.00 co-pay and go home at 3:00 am

Just tell me the freaking dosage ALREADY!


I called around 15 months to schedule my kid's 18 month appointment because our office is superbly backed up and annoying. The receptionist was all, "when is his 15-month appt? I don't see it on the books?" And I sheepishly said, "What 15-month appointment?"



The scary truth (according to my doctor sister who's done a fair amount of medical research and to my instructor on FDA regulations in law school): often, they don't include child doses because they don't test on children. They don't test on children because they don't want to deal with the potential liability. Nobody wants to be responsible for kids suffering harm from drugs they develop, even if the consequence is that kids suffer harm from 1) nature (disease, mosquitos, whatever) and/or 2) guesswork with dosage.

Also, for the record, with some medicines, dosing by weight does not work. Children process drugs differently than adults, and sometimes they need more or less than a weight-proportionate dose (or none at all). And even adults don't dose by weight - after all, the maximum safe tylenol dose is the same for a 250 lb man and a 110 lb woman.


next time call a 24 hour pharmacy to ask about dosage. or if you have sister-in-law who is a pharmacist, as i do, call her and wake her up because you trust her more than some silly stranger. she won't get mad, she's lovely.

ps, i forgot my son's 5 year appointment. until he was 6 and a half. yay me! in my defense i asked a bunch of people if they were supposed to have a 5 year and they all kinda shrugged. everyone knows shrugging means 'nah, don't worry about it' so duh, i didn't worry about it.

the receptionist was a real treat when i finally did take him in. i'm pretty sure i saw her fingers hovering over the numbers for Child Protective Services on the telephone....


I have a dumb question/comment...Why do YOU have to remember. My ped forces me to make the appointment at the check up I am at for the next one...then they call me about two or three days before to give me a other Dr offices not do this? MY personal dr does it for me too...


OK, so you totally just saved my butt on my baby's 9 month checkup. I knew I'd scheduled it, but lost the card. So I called! It's like next week.

Oh, and I have so totally guessed on medicines. Even though I've posted those charts on the back of every bathroom door. Who had time to walk all the way in there when I keep the medicine in the baby bag?!

Carrie C

I heart the 24 hour Walgreens pharmacy for that very reason - I've consulted them SO many times for correct dosages for "under 2 - consult a Dr" meds in the middle of the night!


Awesome! I forgot the 15 month too! And my insurance company kept calling me to say my kid missed a vaccine, oh no, the humanity! She got it at 18 months instead..whew..vaccine crisis averted. Crazy doctors. and insurance. and pharmacompanies.


Ah crap. I totally skipped the fifteen month appointment on purpose because we were about to move (two months later) and now I have the eighteen month scheduled with a brand new doctor. Great. I was really hoping to read something somewhere about how the fifteen month appointment is like a waste of time because nothing happens.


Hello, I'm anal-retentive mommy, and I couldn't agree more about the medicine label thing... So you know what I did? At the well baby visit, just after they were weighed, I would ask the nurse, "Can you get the current doses for all the standard stuff - Benedryl, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Dimetapp for my daughter's weight and write it down for me? That'll save me from having to call you later."

Then anal-retentive mommy takes this piece of paper home and in the kid's Google Calendar (what do you mean your kid doesn't have a Gcal? How do you cope!!??) under the listing for the well baby appt (which I know is usually near the birthday) I would put in
Tylenol - 1/2 tsp
Ibuprofen - 1/4 tsp
etc. I'd also list their height and weight and any other pertinent info under the description field in the appointment, too.

And the magic is that the Gcal is searchable - so in the middle of the night I can go to the search function and search Claire's calendar for "tylenol" and find the most recent dose.

This was AMAZING when they were babies, and it changed every 10 seconds. Not so necessary now that they're big enough for the proper dose to be listed on the bottle. But I still use that "description" field for a whole host of things that aren't technically descriptions of the appointment.

Hope this helps!

I also put it on their Gcal when I give them a dose, so I don't forget later and OD them.

Pregnancy took away my memory. I use Gcal now, instead.


Yeah, I forgot the 15 month check up, too. I think they don't tell you about it on purpose so that they can weed out the slacker parents. We are doing makeups, too.


Natalie - Ezra was 15 months in January, which was right when we switched pediatricians, so it's entirely possible (likely, even) that I'd made an appointment with the old practice and forgot about it. (One of my many complaints about them was that they didn't always do the reminder call before the appt, which I agree is essential when it comes to appts. you've made months in advance and may not have transferred to the calendar.) But then we stopped going there and in my mind I thought 18 months was the next visit after 12 months.

I do so love our current pediatrician, though I now see that they should SERIOUSLY be doing a OTC dosage handout for you at each visit.

(Honestly we really don't use the kids' medicines that much -- very last resort, though I'm obsessive about having them on hand, hence the bajillion Tylenol products we owned -- so I doubt I'd be very good about keeping track of the current handout. Thus, I repeat: JUST PUT IT ON THE BOTTLE FOR ME ALREADY GAH.)


Dr. Sears website has dosages for all medicines we've ever needed online, even if the bottle says consult a dr. it has the med amt based on weight of child for everything.


Ask your ped if they have the sheet of dosages for tylenol and ibu. We got one from our ped and it lists dosages from 6 mos up through 11 or so years. It's all red and covered with Motrin and Tylenol branding.

Here is babycenter's helpful chart for tylenol:

And Dr. Sears' chart for ibu:

and Benadryl:


The no dosages on bottles has meant that my daughter has gone without when she really should probably have had some tylenol. I'm too paranoid to trust the internet.

And this was a nice reminder that I need to make MP's 2 year(!) appointment.

Bill McNutt

"But can anyone honestly say that removing ANY recommended dosage from the labels is actually a BETTER idea?"

Sure - it puts the entire onus on YOU and your doctor, and shields the pharma company from liability.


With my first kid, I distinctly remember being a bit disappointed that there was a 6 month gap between the 18 month check-up and the 24 month check-up. It comforted me to have professionals check on my kid every 3 months up to that point. HOWEVER, with my second kid, I almost forgot both the 15 month and the 18 month appointments. AND, my daughter had ear infections that we didn't know about at BOTH of those appointments. Classy. (in my defense, she didn't show signs of them)


Because I am on the school emergency card for a kid with pediatric migraines, I keep a list taped to the inside of the medicine cabinet, with the dosage of the different alternative things he can take if he develops a migraine on my watch. D. can have x of this, or y of that, or z of this other over-the-counter thing. I wish I had done that with pain and fever relievers when my own children were small. Maybe that would help. Of course, now I have to remember that D. is 2 years older and probably 10 lbs more, and I should update the dosage chart.


I say missing the 15 month well check is not your fault. I worked in many a doctor's office, part of my wonderful job was to call and remind parents/patients when well checks are due. I call unnecessary glaring.
Coloring in children's medicine is insane and should be stopped. My kid is sensitive too. I cannot find fluoride tabs that don't contain a red and a blue (grape flavor HAS to equal grape color?) No company in the states make then white and our water supply isn't fuorinated. Damn big pharma!


tech glitch:not anon, prev comment attempt did not post-my syst sucking-

1.Ez is the bomb
2.clarity+comprehsive labeling+info is vital esp w/medhealth ptb(powers that be) must b resp/accntble.the lack general access and assistance to non emergent/non billiable patient care is problematic/systemic, especially where you are "bleary-eyed" and need assistance in middle of night. docs and associiated/allied healthcare professionals need to be more responsive, receptive and accountable for their part especially when patient's are themselves are proactive and selfadvocating as much as they can.
(sorry for the tangential rant)

3.LOL-"bitch please no wonder he looks like...eric stolz...the mask...)

ok if this comment does not post this time, i give up. love ur blog amalah for future reference hope previous post attempt was not spammed.-end


Not related: add "Isn't that Special" to your left hand list of sites you write for!!

Sorry - just noticed!


I just skimmed the comments and saw that someone else made the same recommendation I'm about to: call a pharmacist. There are a lot of 24-hour pharmacies these days so you should be able to find one at any time of the night and they will always be able to give you the correct dosing, by weight.


i did the same damn thing about my 4th baby's 15 month check up. they didn't tell me when i left the 12 month, so i assumed that she'd go at 18. oops. and shut up about it being my 4th & i should know better. i forget this shit.


Yep, the Dr. Sears website is awesome (check out, e.g. -- this is what I used last night because Little Miss Kickboxer graced us with 103.6).

Also, that whole Tylenol crapshoot? I cried when I tossed the almost-full bottle of the dye-free infant version and then had to shell out another $9 at the drugstore for the generic. Which, luckily enough, helped bring LMK's fever down last night. But still ...

Feelin' your pain.


Oh. My. God. I am so tired of "Children under 6, DO NOT USE!!!!!!" on all our medications. Even INFANT medications FTLOG. We got an INFANT medication for children 0-2 and it said "Children under 2, consult a pediatrician." Well, THANKS! I completely agree with you: those of us who hate the phone, or who don't feel like calling 9-1-1 at 2:00 in the morning, are tooooootally going to wing it, and WINGING IT is worse than ABUSING IT. If someone deliberately overdoses their child after reading the dosing chart on the bottle, that is a problem that is NOT avoidable by ELIMINATING THE DOSING. In fact, it reminds me of my college roommate who would just drink a good swig out of a bottle of cold medicine when she was sick. (!!!!)

I seem to have lost track of what I was saying. Oh yes! That medication labeling is stupid! And that I forgot the 15-month check for my FIFTH child, and the office staff didn't even know what to say. Like, if I don't have it down by now, there is no sense even reprimanding me.


Hi. Not sure if you know that the Tylenol people are sending refunds for any of their recalled products. I got $16 back for my 2 bottles. There is a link out there somewhere with directions. If I find it again I will put it in here for you. Although it sounds like you've already thrown out your bottles.


My child didn't have a 15 month wellness check-up. I even asked at her 12 month, and they told me to just schedule an 18 month, where they gave her 4 shots. Hope Ezra is feeling better soon!


I returned the recalled Tylenol medicine to my local Target. No receipt required or questions asked -- they had a sheet of prices for the each recalled medicine and gave me a Target gift card for the balance.

Elizabeth Doolittle

OK - I'll give you some medicine guidelines that may help you in the future (I'm a nurse practitioner btw). Take your child's weight and divide it by 2.2 which will give you their weight in kilograms. For Ibuprofen, you multiply that by 10 to give you the dose in milligrams (stay with me - I'll give you a real like example in a minute). For Tylenol, you multiply that number by 15. This gives you a much more accurate dosage because what's on the bottle is a range and it's the right amount for the lowest weight in that range (which means you are under dosing if you have a kid in the higher end of the weight range). son weighs 35 lbs. I divide that by 2.2 and get 15.9 kg. For Ibuprofen I multiply that by 10 and get 159 milligrams. Children's Ibuprofen or Motrin (NOT THE INFANT) has 100 mg per teaspoon. That means I would give my son 1 1/2 tsp or 150 mg. For Tylenol, I multiply that number by 15 and get 238.5 mg. Children's Tylenol (NOT INFANT) has 160 mg per teaspoon. So...if I divide 238 by 160 then I get 1.49 which means I give my son 1 1/2 tsp of Tylenol (it almost always works out the same dosage wise as the ibuprofen).

For's actually hard to overdose. Once your kid is a year old then 1 tsp usually works. For 6 months to 1 year I would give 3/4 tsp.

Reading back on what I just wrote, I realize that it seems pretty obnoxious. I guess I am used to it, but if it doesn't make since then forget all of it (and don't sue me if you get it wrong!). Sorry.....

Nancy Clark

Don't listen to them. You are a good mother. Listen to your instincts. You and your husband are doing a good job with your boys.


Asian Tiger Mosquito. I just saw a special blurb on them in the Washington Post(couldn't find a link to that article online, although there are plenty of other sites with truly skin-crawly asian tiger mosquito-y details). We've apparently imported mosquitos to bite us during the day. Multiple times. And the bites could actually be more annoying to people than other kinds of bites.

Knowing these mosquitos exist will not in any way help you and Ezra deal with the bites, or stop them from happening; but it could be a reason for extra bites, or extra potency of the bites other than skeeter syndrome. ...and it's more fun to say you were bitten by an "asian tiger" than a "stupid old 'squito"
(NOTE: do not do any research on asian tiger mosquitos unless you are willing to see pictures of them at ten BAZILIION times bigger than life)


I don't give my children medicine. Well, not chemical medicine anyway - I do give them healing foods like garlic, lemons, etc. - that's our medicine. One of the benefits of this is that I never have to worry about recalled medicines harming my kids due to "out of control manufacturing processes" or "tiny particles" (of conveniently left out end of sentence) paint?? metal from machinery?? that my kids may have ingested. I also never have to worry about non-recalled, but potentially just as harmful meds either. Kids (and adults) recover much faster on garlic and lemons, anyway.


One of my kids got 4 ant bites on his FOOT and this is what happened to his FACE:

Glad to see that Ezra is doing better. Those Benadryl tablets that melt in the mouth are great and your doctor can tell you how much to give him despite what the packaging says.


Poor kiddo, just out of curiosity, though, wasn't Benadryl included in the recall? Just caught my attention because you mentioned that the bottle was near expiration so it doesn't sound like you just bought it. Sounds like he's doing better though so obviously the Benadryl was fine. Good luck with the allergy testing! I'm allergic to bee stings and you should see me run around like a crazy woman when one is close by. Fortunately I haven't had to use the epipen in many, many years!

From Belgium

Thank you for reminding me to schedule a 15 month check up. Oh and in case you think Belgium is better : childerens medicines practically all come in the form of suppositories here. You know what they give you for a cold : a suppository filled with eucalyptus, thyme, etc essences. It gives the words 'smelly diaper' a whole new dimension.


Poor baby boy. I'd be giving the finger too. Mosquito bastards.


Fortunately, my doctor's office schedules the next well baby visit as we are leaving or I would never know when I'm *supposed* to take her in.


Our pediatrician once gave us a chart of medicines and the proper dosages (by weight & age). It is, perhaps, the most important piece of paper I own.


Oh, and did I mention that I threw out all the bottles of recalled medicine before I knew you could get a refund? Can we say PISSED?


Something alot of people do not know is that UP TO 75% OF DRUGS INTENDED FOR USE BY CHILDREN ARE NOT TESTED FOR THEIR USE IN CHILDREN. Yes, you read that right.

There are many reasons why drug manufacturers cannot or do not test products in children and Congress has responded by creating incentives and requirements for the testing of medical products used in children. If you can imagine, product labeling is much more informative today than it was even 10 years ago.

You can get more information about pediatric drug testing through the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at:

stacy in europe

As in Belgium, the majority of children's medicines where I live in Europe come in suppository form.

Even though most US and UK friends I know have an extreme aversion to sticking a small waxy bullet up their kids' bum -- frankly, I truly appreciate them when my baby is cranky and hot with fever from teething at 2am, and I can slip a suppository in her butt with only the nightlight on... no dosage (guessing or otherwise) required!! Also: no dyes or chance to spit it out.




Oh that poor sweetie. Hope his eye heals soon!


I was totally confounded by this post. Then I looked in the diaper bag for all the baby medicines (all two, plus some homeopathics, but still) and they had dosages listed right on the bottle. Then I was even more confounded. Then I remembered I live in canada.

So there's some useful advice if you choose not to go with the garlic-and-lemons method as described above: buy your baby meds in sensible old Canada, where dosages are listed on the bottle by size and weight.


Well damn. I am the cruel mommy who made my daughter wait until she was two before giving her anything that didn't have dosages...I'm glad she didn't puff up from mosquito bites!

And I totally didn't book her annual appt. - 6 months ago! oops.


Bullet #7: "Bitch, please" made me spit coffee all over the keyboard..damn, you're funny.


Maybe consider homeopathy? I use it for EVERYTHING with my daughter who is Ezra's age, and so far, haven't had to use anything else (I have ibuprofen etc, but seriously haven't had to open the bottles because everything from fevers to colds, to vomiting, I have consulted my homeopath and have ALWAYS found a remedy that worked almost immediately). This includes vaccinations which I know sometimes can seem crazy, but check into it if you like. You never know. Actually, it may also help with some of Noah's anxiety or other quirks if you ever feel he needs it. For me and my husband, and our daughter it has helped with pretty much everything. From anxiety and depression to sore throats and bad gas! Also, couldn't agree with you more about the colorings - unreal!

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