How to give toddler medicine

Contents

Getting Toddlers to Take Medicine: 8 Tricks to Try

When your toddler is sick, you want to do whatever you can to make her feel better — like giving her extra hugs and kisses, cuddling up with her in bed, or letting her watch her favorite video. But battling with her to try to get her to take her medicine is probably not one of your favorite feel-better strategies. So what can you do when your hot-tempered tot refuses to take the medication you know she needs? While Mary Poppins may have resorted to a spoonful of sugar, you’d like to find another way to make the medicine go down. To the rescue, these tricky tactics for coaxing your stubborn toddler to take medicine:

Try a different delivery. Delivery can make all the difference. So if your toddler has already turned up her nose at the medicine spoon, try giving her the medication in a medicine dropper. You might also ask the pharmacist for a plastic syringe (sans the needle!) that squirts out liquid meds, or a small cup (make sure it offers exact measurements so you can dose properly) — or another measuring device you think your child might be willing to try. Any variation in your approach may distract her enough to get a dose in.

Break it up. Give your toddler small amounts of medicine over several minutes instead of all at once. It may be easier to swallow if she doesn’t have to down it all in one gulp. Of course, if your kid feels that this strategy is merely prolonging the agony, this option isn’t for you.

Hide it. Ask your doctor if it’s okay to sneak the particular medicine into foods or drinks. If you get the thumbs-up on that, stir the medicine into a small amount of applesauce, ice cream, or fruit juice. (Applesauce à la penicillin isn’t half bad.) But remember, if you do mix the meds into something else, your toddler needs to eat or drink the whole thing in order to get the full dosage.

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Take the right aim. Taste buds are concentrated on the front and center of the tongue, so bypass those finicky taste zones by placing the medicine near the back of her tongue. Or try dropping it between the rear gum and the inside of her cheek, where it will easily glide down her throat with minimal contact with taste buds. (Yes, this requires a bit of skill, and maybe an extra set of hands to keep your toddler still while you perfect your dunk shot.)

Offer a treat. A little bribery can go a long way in this instance. Promise your child a small but special prize in return for taking her medicine. Stickers or a little trinket might inspire her to open wide.

Watch your reaction. Even if you’re feeling bad about forcing your tot to drink something she detests, don’t apologize for it. Be matter of fact about it, or even cheerful (if you can pull it off) because this will signal to your toddler that taking medicine isn’t a hardship. And don’t let your facial expressions give you away either. Trying to get your toddler to take medicine with a grimace on your face will clue her in to the fact that she’s in for something unpleasant.

Give her a say. Empower your child by lettering her choose between different flavors or colors of medicine if you have the option. That way she’ll feel like she has some control over the situation.

Add a flavorful twist. Ask your pharmacist if she can mask the taste of the yucky-tasting liquid with a better-tasting flavoring such as FLAVORx. The flavorings (ranging from root beer to tangerine) are FDA-approved and medically designed to combat the bad taste and smell of liquid medicines. It may be the answer to your medicine-taking troubles.

See all toddler health and safety tips.

Medicine – Refusal to Take

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Your child refuses to take a medicine
  • Techniques for giving liquid medicines, pills and capsules

Wrong Technique for Giving Medicine Can Cause Vomiting

  • Forcing a struggling child to take any medicine can lead to vomiting or choking.
  • Using a better technique can sometimes get rid of the child’s resistance.
  • Doctors can sometimes replace a bad-tasting antibiotic with a better-tasting one. Another option might be to give an antibiotic in a shot.
  • Most non-prescription medicines are not needed and can be stopped.

Good Technique for Giving Liquid Medicine

  • Equipment: Plastic medication syringe or dropper (not a spoon)
  • Child’s position: Sitting up (Never lying down)
  • Place the syringe beyond the teeth or gumline. Some young children become cooperative if you let them hold the syringe. Have them place it in their own mouth. Then all you have to do is push the plunger.
  • Goal: Slowly drip or pour the medicine onto the back of the tongue. You can also aim for the pouch inside the cheek.
  • Do not squirt the medicine into the back of the throat. (Reason: Can enter windpipe and cause choking.)

If Your Child Does Not Cooperate: More Techniques for Giving Liquid Medicine

  • Caution: Never use this technique if the medicine is not needed.
  • If your child will not cooperate, you will often need 2 adults.
  • One adult will hold the child sitting on their lap. Their hands will hold the child’s hands and head to keep from moving.
  • The other adult will give the medicine using the technique below:
  • You must have a medication syringe. You can get one at a pharmacy without a prescription.
  • Use one hand to hold the syringe. Use the other to open your child’s mouth.
  • Open your child’s mouth by pushing down on the chin. You can also run your finger inside the cheek and push down on the lower jaw.
  • Insert the syringe between the teeth. Drip the medicine onto the back of the tongue.
  • Keep the mouth closed until your child swallows. Gravity can help if you have your child in an upright position. Caution: Swallowing cannot occur if the head is bent backward.
  • Afterward, say: “I’m sorry we had to hold you. If you help next time, we won’t have to.”
  • Give your child a hug. Also, use other positive rewards (treat, special DVD or stickers).

Liquid Medicines: How to Measure the Dose

  • Use the oral dosing syringe that comes with the medicine. This device gives the most accurate dosing.
  • If you don’t have a med syringe, buy one at a pharmacy.
  • Dosing with syringe is more accurate than a measuring cup or teaspoon.
  • Household spoons vary in the volume they hold.
  • Risk: Using household spoons causes thousands of cases of poisoning each year.

When to Call for Medicine – Refusal to Take

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Refuses to take a prescription medicine. Using a good technique from Care Advice has not helped.
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Refuses to take a non-prescription medicine advised by your child’s doctor. Using a good technique from Care Advice has not helped.
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Prescription liquid medicine and your child refuses to take it
  • Non-prescription liquid medicine and your child refuses to take it
  • Techniques for giving liquid medicine to cooperative child
  • Techniques for giving pills or capsules

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice

Prescription Liquid Medicine and Your Child Refuses to Take It

  1. What You Should Know About Medicine Refusal:
    • Young children don’t understand the importance of taking a medicine.
    • Good technique can make a big difference.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Sweeteners For Medicines That Taste Bad:
    • Most liquid medicines have a good or at least acceptable flavor.
    • If your child complains about the taste, your job is to mask it.
    • Mix the dose of medicine with a strong-sweet flavor. You can try chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, or any pancake syrup. You can also use Kool-Aid powder.
    • Medicines can safely be mixed with any flavor your child likes.
    • Usually 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the sweetener will do.
    • Also, have a glass of your child’s favorite drink ready to rinse the mouth.
    • Tip: Coating the taste buds with the sweetener first may also hide the taste.
  3. Good Technique for Giving Liquid Medicine:
    • Equipment: Plastic medication syringe or dropper (not a spoon)
    • Child’s position: Sitting up (Never lying down)
    • Place the syringe beyond the teeth or gumline. Some young children become cooperative if you let them hold the syringe. Have them place it in their own mouth. Then all you have to do is push the plunger.
    • Goal: Slowly drip or pour the medicine onto the back of the tongue. You can also aim for the pouch inside the cheek.
    • Do not squirt medicine into the back of the throat. Reason: Can enter windpipe and cause choking.
    • Don’t use household spoons for dosing. Reason: they vary in the amount they hold. They also often cause the med to spill.
  4. If Child Does Not Cooperate – More Techniques for Giving Liquid Medicine:
    • Caution: Never use this technique if the medicine is not needed.
    • If your child will not cooperate, you will often need 2 adults.
    • One adult will hold the child sitting on their lap. Their hands will hold the child’s hands and head to keep from moving.
    • The other adult will give the medicine using the technique below:
    • You must have a medication syringe. You can get one at a pharmacy without a prescription.
    • Use one hand to hold the syringe. Use the other to open your child’s mouth.
    • Open your child’s mouth by pushing down on the chin. You can also run your finger inside the cheek and push down on the lower jaw.
    • Insert the syringe between the teeth. Drip the medicine onto the back of the tongue.
    • Keep the mouth closed until your child swallows. Gravity can help if you have your child in an upright position. Caution: Swallowing cannot occur if the head is bent backward.
    • Afterward, say: “I’m sorry we had to hold you. If you help next time, we won’t have to.”
    • Give your child a hug. Also, use other positive rewards (treat, special DVD or stickers).
  5. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You can’t get your child to take the medicine
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Non-Prescription Liquid Medicine and Your Child Refuses to Take It

  1. What You Should Know About OTC Medicine Refusal:
    • Most non-prescription medicines (OTC) are not needed.
    • Examples of these non-essential medicines are most cough and cold medicines. Fever medicines are also not essential for most fevers.
    • Never try to force your child to take a medicine that is not needed.
    • Most often, symptoms can be helped with other types of treatment. See the specific topic that covers your child’s main symptom for other treatment options.
  2. Fever Medicine:
    • Fevers only need to be treated with medicine if they cause discomfort. Most often, that means fevers above 102° F (39° C). Fevers less than 102° F (39° C) are important for fighting infections.
    • They can be treated with acetaminophen suppositories (such as FeverAll). The rectal dose is the same as the dose given by mouth.
    • Other options. If your child spits out or refuses ibuprofen, try oral acetaminophen (such as Tylenol). You can also try a different flavor or brand of the medicine. Other flavors or brands may taste better. If your child is old enough, you might also try chewable tablets. They may taste better than the liquid.
    • For all fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
  3. Good Technique for Giving Liquid Medicine:
    • Equipment: Plastic medication syringe or dropper (not a spoon)
    • Child’s position: Sitting up (Never lying down)
    • Place the syringe beyond the teeth or gumline. Some young children become cooperative if you let them hold the syringe. Have them place it in their own mouth. Then all you have to do is push the plunger.
    • Goal: Slowly drip or pour the medicine onto the back of the tongue. You can also aim for the pouch inside the cheek.
    • Do not squirt medicine into the back of the throat. Reason: can enter windpipe and cause choking.
    • Don’t use household spoons for dosing. Reason: they vary in the amount they hold. They also often cause the med to spill.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Techniques for Giving Liquid Medicine to Cooperative Child

  1. Sweeteners For Medicines That Taste Bad:
    • Most liquid medicines have a good or at least acceptable flavor.
    • If your child complains about the taste, your job is to mask it.
    • Mix the dose of medicine with a strong-sweet flavor. You can try chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, or any pancake syrup. You can also use Kool-Aid powder.
    • Medicines can safely be mixed with any flavor your child likes.
    • Usually 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the sweetener will do.
    • Also, have a glass of your child’s favorite drink ready to rinse the mouth.
    • Tip: Coating the taste buds with the sweetener first may also hide the taste.
  2. Good Technique for Giving Liquid Medicine:
    • Equipment: plastic medication syringe or dropper (not a spoon)
    • Child’s position: Sitting up (Never lying down)
    • Place the syringe beyond the teeth or gumline. Some young children become cooperative if you let them hold the syringe. Have them place it in their own mouth. Then all you have to do is push the plunger.
    • Goal: slowly drip or pour the medicine onto the back of the tongue. You can also aim for the pouch inside the cheek.
    • Do not squirt medicine into the back of the throat. Reason: can enter windpipe and cause choking.
    • Don’t use household spoons for dosing. Reason: they vary in the amount they hold. They also often cause the med to spill.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • You have other questions or concerns

Techniques for Giving Pills or Capsules

  1. What You Should Know About Giving Pills or Capsules:
    • Many children have trouble swallowing pills or capsules.
    • Fortunately, most medicines also come in a liquid form.
    • Call your child’s doctor if you aren’t successful with these tips for swallowing pills. Ask about the possibility of a liquid or chewable form of the medicine.
  2. Tips for Swallowing Pills or Capsules:
    • Use a thicker fluid than water. Juices or smoothies are good. It’s always harder to swallow pills with water. Place the pill or capsule far back on the tongue. Then, have your child fill the mouth with fluid. Have your child try to swallow large gulps at a time. The pill should disappear from the mouth.
    • Keep the head in a neutral or slightly bent forward position. It’s difficult to swallow if the head is bent backward.
    • Drinking quickly through a straw can also help.
  3. Split or Crush Pills:
    • For easier swallowing, one approach is to split the pill into halves or quarters.
    • Another approach is to convert the pill to a powder. Crush the pill between two spoons. Crushing is made easier by wetting the pill with a few drops of water. Let it soften for 5 minutes.
    • Mix the crushed pill with a pancake syrup, chocolate syrup, or yogurt. You can also use any sweet food that doesn’t require any chewing.
    • Note: You can do this with most pills. However, don’t do this with slow-release or enteric-coated pills. Check with your doctor if you are unsure what you can do.
  4. Capsules:
    • Slow-release capsules can be emptied. Just make sure the contents are swallowed without chewing.
    • These capsules often contain medicines with a bitter taste. So, the contents need to be mixed with a sweet food. Applesauce or yogurt may work.
  5. Prevention Through Practice:
    • If your child is over age 8 and unable to swallow pills, he should practice. Practice this skill when he’s not sick or cranky. Some children can’t swallow pills until age 10.
    • Start with small pieces of candy or ice and progress to M&M’s. Try to use substances that will melt quickly if they get stuck. If necessary, coat them with butter first.
    • Once candy pellets are mastered, pills can often be managed as well.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Your child can’t take the medicine after trying these good techniques
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 02/01/2020

Last Revised: 03/14/2019

Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

By: Deb Lonzer, MD

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Sick kids often will pass on taking medicine, even if they know it will make them feel better. Pills can be hard for them to swallow, and liquid medicine can taste bad.

Pills are particularly onerous for children. A recent study found that 50 percent of children have problems swallowing standard-size pills.

Here is some advice I often give to parents to help their child take medicine.

1. Start young

It’s easier to teach younger children to swallow pills before they have the chance to develop a fear of them.

Children who are afraid of taking pills fear they will choke on the pill. If this is your child, you can remind him or her that their throat is capable of handling much larger things, like food.

It’s best to teach your children to take pills early, like when they are 4 or 5 years old — before they develop a fear of swallowing things. Waiting until they are 8 or 9 may be too late.

2. Lead by example

Kids tend to mimic their parents when it comes to the ways in which they act and speak – and taking pills is no different. Showing your children how to swallow pills and emphasizing that it is not hard to do will ease their fears.

It’s important to take an upbeat, positive approach. When your child is ready, place the pill around your child’s teeth, or toward the back of the tongue, and adjust the chin so the head is tilted back. Tell them to pretend the pill is a piece of food and to swallow it.

3. Mask the taste

Often children will put a pill in their mouth but don’t swallow it right away. Then the pill coating dissolves and they experience a horrible taste, so they spit out the pill. This results in reluctance to try taking a pill again. Unfortunately, many liquid medicines don’t taste great either.

One time-honored solution is to mask the task of medicine with food. Try ice cream or applesauce or any thick food in which the pill can hide. Or try giving your kids a popsicle first, which puts a good flavor in the mouth and numbs the tongue, too. Also, when the tongue is cold, it can’t sense flavor as well.

But what to do if the medicine is in liquid form?

If you don’t have a popsicle handy, you can put a spoon in the freezer for a few minutes, place it on your child’s tongue, then remove the spoon and give your child the medicine. The cold spoon on the tongue does the same thing as a popsicle – it lessens your child’s ability to taste and numbs it a bit.

After your child swallows the liquid medicine, give him or her something to drink. That will drown out the taste.

You also can ask for a syringe at your local pharmacy and use it to inject liquid medicine into a peanut butter cup-type candy. The peanut butter and chocolate will disguise the taste without affecting the medicine.

Almost any food that has a thick consistency will work to mask medicine. For some kids, orange juice will do the trick, especially if it’s the pulpy kind of juice. But it can be anything with a strong flavor that your child likes.

Gelatin, however, is not a good choice – it’s not as flavorful or cold as other foods.

More information

Parents’ guide to choosing a pediatrician

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One of the top struggles of parenting sick children is giving them yucky tasting medications. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I’m no stranger to watching a fresh dose of medication get spit right back up. With sick babies, this situation can be extra difficult, because they do not understand that the medication will actually resolve their pain. Unless you got extra lucky with a little one who loves taking their medicine (and those babies are out there!), then this post is for you. I’ll start with a few ground rules for giving medicine to kids, and then I have 10 hacks to help you get kids to take medicine.

Ground Rules For Giving Medicine To Kids…

1. Create a non-negotiable medication policy in your house.

If mom or dad say it’s time to take medication, then it’s time to take your medication. Period. I watch way too many parents make the mistake of making medication sound optional to children. Medications can be a life-saving intervention, and we need to teach children this.

Don’t ask questions like, “Do you want to take your medication now?” Instead, give options when you are able to, like, “Would you like to have your medication mixed with applesauce or yogurt now?”

I’ve watched strong willed toddlers end up in the hospital on IV medications just because parents wouldn’t make them take their medications. Trust me, injected medications, IV medications, and hospital stays lead to a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache. This can be prevented if you start with a non-negotiable policy from the beginning.

2. “Can you just give my child a shot instead of a liquid medication?”

I hear this request from parents quite frequently, and I understand the appeal of a one-and-done shot that is over is a few minutes versus a liquid medication that usually takes two doses for 7-10 days. BUT, this truly isn’t an option in most cases. Injectable medications are usually reserved for use in children when other medications have failed.

For example, Rocephin (Ceftriaxone) is a strong antibiotic frequently used in children when other antibiotics (like Amoxicillin or Augmentin) haven’t worked. Because these injected medications can be stronger than their liquid counterparts, they frequently have more side effects (not to mention that shots hurt!). Rocephin is painful enough that most providers will mix it with lidocaine just to try and eliminate some of the pain. Furthermore, if you jump to an injected antibiotic before trying liquid antibiotics, your child will be at a higher risk for developing antibiotic resistance. That is why most pediatric providers simply won’t do it.

When we prescribe liquid medications, it’s because we believe it is in the best interest of your child. I try to remind parents that taking medications by mouth is an activity every person will have to do at some point. Trying to push off liquid medications in your child’s younger years doesn’t work. It usually just makes for a more difficult battle when that day eventually comes.

3. Equipment matters!

If your child is small enough that they need a parent to administer a medication, your equipment matters. Medication syringes are easier and far more accurate than medicine cups when giving child medication. In fact, in a study in 2016, researchers found that the odds of making a dosing error were more than 4 times higher using cups than they were with syringes. If you don’t have an easy to read medication syringe at home, I highly recommend this one. It’s a must-have in your medicine cabinet!

Make sure you aren’t using spoons from your kitchen for medications. Spoons are for food only – they are notorious for leading to dosing errors.

Bottle nipples can help young babies take medicine. The act of sucking on a bottle nipple is soothing for infants, so you can measure the correct dose of medication in a syringe and then squirt it into a bottle nipple. Allow your baby to suck on the nipple until all the medication is gone!

4. Dosing matters!

In young children, medication dosing is always based on your child’s weight. It’s very important to have an accurate, up-to-date weight for your child before giving medications. If you don’t understand the dosage on their prescription, don’t be shy! Be sure to ask your pediatric provider or pharmacist to clarify. Do you need the weight-based dose of children’s Tylenol, Advil or Benadryl? Snag my pediatric dosage charts!

5. Technique matters!

If your child is small enough that they need a parent to administer a medication, your technique matters. Sit with your child in an upright position (on your lap or in a high chair is helpful). Using a comfort hold position may also help your child with this process. If your infant or toddler is trying to push the medication away with his hands, sometimes swaddling your infant or toddler is a helpful technique as well.

When using a medication syringe, put the syringe toward the back of the cheek and start slowly squirting. Try not to aim for the throat. Often this causes gagging and chocking and parents end up wearing more medication than their child ends up taking! Also, don’t put the syringe near the front of the mouth by the lips, as most children will drool or push the medication out with their tongue. The back of their cheek is your target!

6. Incentivize good medicine taking behavior.

There’s nothing wrong with offering your child a small treat or incentive after taking their medicine as instructed. I don’t love bribery (because, remember, medications are a non-negotiable!), but something as simple as a child taking their medication after dinner and being rewarded with dessert or a popsicle can create a culture of positivity when medication is needed.

7. Be positive.

If you dread medication time, your child will, too. Something as simple as approaching medication with happiness can help everyone involved! When your little one is a baby, use the same tone of voice for medicine as you would for a treat or something they love. As children get older, you can acknowledge that medication doesn’t always taste good, but it’s critical to help them feel better.

Now, it’s time for the pediatric medication hacks!

10 Ways To Get Kids To Take Medicine

1. Be sure to ask the pharmacy to flavored liquid medications.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many pharmacies do NOT flavor medications automatically. This can come as an undesired surprise to both parents and children alike when the highly anticipated “bubblegum” medicine is discovered to be nothing of the sort.

Before going home from the pharmacy with your child’s liquid medication, specifically ask if they flavored the medication. Additionally, some pharmacies have a few flavors to choose from (bubblegum, cherry, grape, etc.). If one type of flavor just isn’t working out, ask if you can switch it out and try something different. Different pharmacies sometimes carry different flavors, so you can always call around and check on flavors before sending your child’s prescription in. You can even ask pharmacies to double the amount of flavor in many cases.

2. The problem with bottles and sippy cups…

Can you mix liquid medications with juice or formula? Yes, but please avoid this common mistake: don’t mix medication with a large amount of fluid. If you put medication in a full sippy cup or bottle, your child has to drink the entire thing to get the full dose of medication. Also, medications should be finished right after they are mixed in your child’s sippy or bottle. This can be hard to do if it is a large amount to drink.

If you are mixing your child’s medication in a sippy cup or bottle, I recommend mixing it with no more than about 3-4 oz of fluid so the full amount of medication can be taken in a short amount of time.

3. Chill medications.

Medicine almost always tastes better when it is cold! The simple act of chilling a liquid medication in the refrigerator can make it much more palatable. Unless your medication specifically instructs you to store it at room temperature, it should be fine to be cooled.

4. Swap out Tylenol for Advil (or vice versa!).

If your child is older than 6 months, they can take either Tylenol or Advil. These medications are some of the most commonly consumed medications in pediatrics. Now, it is very important to follow the dosing guidelines (Tylenol should not be given more than every 4 hours and Advil should not be given more than every 6 hours), but if your child really can’t stand the taste of one of them, you could try the other.

Both Tylenol and Advil help children with pain and fever, so they typically accomplish the same thing. Both of these medications come in a variety of flavors (cherry, grape, blueberry…), so you could always try a different flavor as well! Advil should not be given to infants under the age of 6 months, so Tylenol is the only option for those little ones!

5. Chocolate syrup.

This is the classic go-to trick! Adding a teaspoon of chocolate syrup to liquid medications is very good at disguising bad tastes. This is a very sugary solution, so I don’t recommend this for infants under the age of 1.

6. Honey.

Kiddo isn’t a chocolate fan? Honey is good at disguising the taste of medication as well. But, be sure not to give honey to children under the age of 1 due to the risk of botulism.

7. Coffee cream.

This is a new trending favorite! Unlike chocolate syrup, coffee cream is a little lighter and comes in a million different flavors. Allowing your child to pick out the flavor gives them more control over the situation and usually helps immensely.

8. Have a drink of water (or your child’s favorite drink) ready to go!

Washing down the yucky flavor as soon as your child swallows the medicine is always helpful!

9. Try a tablet instead.

Most liquid medications are available in chewables and tablets. If the liquid medication just isn’t working, you could request a different form of the medication. This is especially helpful for children who are vomiting. Many (but not all) tablets can be crushed and mixed into a small amount of food (like applesauce or yogurt). Check with your pediatric provider first to make sure it’s okay to crush the medication.

10. Cool whip hack.

Feeling really creative? Or slightly desperate? This recommendation comes from one of our nurses in the KidNurse Community. Mix your child’s liquid medication with frozen cool whip and add sprinkles on top! I’ve yet to see a kid turn down this festive, sweet concoction!

Do you have any tricks to get kids to take medicine? Share them in the comments!
And don’t forget to download my pediatric Tylenol, Advil, and Benadryl dosage charts!

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Over the years at Kingsway we have received many phone calls from customers asking for the best way to hide the nasty taste of their children’s medicine, or their own medicine for that matter.

One of the hardest tasks a parent has is to give their children medicines. Children hide, run, struggle or even fight back physically when it’s time for their medication. As a result, many parents have to resort to force, threats and bribery to ensure their kids take their prescriptions.

So this week we thought that we would take the opportunity to write a list of some helpful hints to make “medicine time” a little less stressful for everyone concerned! The techniques all revolved around masking medicine flavours to make them more palatable.

This list has been compiled based on the numerous discussions we have had with our customers and is by no means complete. By experimenting and using your imagination, this list may continue to grow. Please remember this list is broad and if you or your child is on a restricted diet some of these options my not be suitable.

Compounded Masking Syrups

At Kingsway we have a wide range of masking syrups; these have been specifically designed to hide the strong taste of our Primer formulations and contain no “nasties”. These syrups can also be used to disguise other medicines. All you need to do is simply open up the capsule and dissolve the powder in the syrup. Please feel free to give us a call to organise some free samples.

Fruit & Vegetable Juices

Medicines can be mixed in to fresh fruit/vegetable juices, such as pear, grape, carrot, beetroot, ginger, apple, orange, celery. There are so many wonderful, delicious juice recipes out there, the list is endless. Homemade smoothies are another popular idea. These drinks are also a good way to include fruits and vegetables that may not be eaten otherwise.

Yoghurt, Spreads, Honey & Fruit Sauce

You may like to try hiding medicines in yoghurt (if allowed). This is another way to include some natural probiotics. Other common tactics include disguising medicines in organic honey and 100% fruit jams, cocoa, homemade fruit sorbets, peanut butter, cashew butter and almond butter (if allowed) and homemade tomato, apple and pear sauce Remember to try and keep the volume of food or drink you are hiding the medicine in small, especially for children. This way you know the entire dose has been taken in a few mouthfuls. If a child does not finish the food/drink you have mixed the medicine in, it can make things difficult.

Non Water Soluble Medicines

If the medicine you are hiding is not dissolving, this probably means it is not water soluble and may need to be mixed into an oil or semi-solid food for best results. Using a small handheld mixer can also help blend in suborn preparations.

Other Masking Hints & Tips

Another great tip to help hide bitterness is mixing medicines with cold and/or citrus flavoured foods/drinks, such as frozen fruit juice and sorbets.

Avoid what is commonly referred to as “food burnout,” by trying to alter the foods and drinks you are using to disguise the medicine in as much as possible, and if you or your child is on a restricted diet try not to use favourite foods to hide the medicine in.

Educating Kids & Administering Medicines

It is also a good idea for parents to try and educate their children about medicines as early as possible. Explain to them that although they may not taste very nice, they are essential to help sick children get better and that taking medication is something that all people, young and old, do when they are unwell.

Some parents find the best way is to use a syringe to squirt the medicine into the child’s mouth, especially if they have real difficulty swallowing the capsules and/or liquid preparation. Remember to aim for the inside of the cheek, before squirting the liquid into the child’s mouth. That way, it’s harder for the child to spit out the liquid and easier for it to slide down the throat.

Do You Have Any Techniques to Share?

I hope these have been helpful. Please feel free to contact us with your ideas, so we can share them with our other customers.

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How to give medicines: liquid medicine

This leaflet gives tips about how to give liquid medicine to children.

  • Watch our video about giving liquid medicines
  • Find leaflets on individual medicines that are available as liquid medicine

This leaflet has been written specifically about the use of medicines in children. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

Some liquid medicines should be taken with food or milk. Other liquid medicines work best on an empty stomach. There are a few liquid medicines that should not be taken with certain foods, juices or milk. This should be shown on the medicine label. If you are not sure which food and drink your child should have with the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Detailed information about what to do is given in the leaflet for each medicine on the Medicines for Children website.

Liquid medicine

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before giving liquid medicine.
  • Shake the bottle well.
  • Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe (see instructions below) or medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist.
  • Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.
  • Make sure your child takes it all straight away.
  • To hide the taste of liquid medicine, you can give the child a drink of milk or fruit juice straight after giving the medicine.

If your child will not or cannot take the medicine on its own, even with a drink straight afterwards, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. They may advise that to hide the taste of the liquid medicine by mixing it with milk or fruit juice; but always check as this process is not suitable for all medicines.

  • Add the dose of liquid medicine to a glass of milk or fruit juice (preferably at room temperature).
  • Make sure your child drinks all the mixture straight away.
  • Then add some more juice or milk to the glass, swirl it round and ask your child to drink the liquid. This makes sure they get all the medicine.

Check the leaflet for the medicine you are giving, or speak with your doctor or pharmacist before mixing the medicine into a drink to give it.

Other important information

When you get a new prescription of liquid medicine, check what strength medicine you have and how much to give your child, as it may be different from the previous batch.

  • Some liquid medicines must be kept in the fridge. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle. If you are unsure, speak with your pharmacist.
  • Some liquid medicines do not keep for long once they have been opened. Write the date that you start it on the bottle and make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle.

Using an oral syringe

Your pharmacist may give you an oral syringe to measure and give liquid medicine to your child. This will help make sure that your child gets the right amount.

Some bottles of medicine have a rubber bung, which is pushed into the neck of the bottle. You can purchase bungs from some pharmacists.

Preparing the syringe (with a bung)

  • Shake the bottle well, making sure the cap is
  • firmly on the bottle.
  • Remove the cap and if the rubber bung has not already been inserted, push it fully into the neck of the bottle.
  • Take the syringe and pull the plunger back so that the top of the black ring is on the volume for the dose you need to give.
  • Push the tip of the syringe into the hole in the middle of the rubber bung.
  • Turn the whole bottle with the syringe upside down.
  • Slowly push the plunger into the syringe. This will push air into the bottle.
  • Then pull the plunger slowly back to the volume you need for your child’s dose.
  • Turn the whole bottle with the syringe the right way up and take the syringe out of the bottle.

Preparing the syringe (without a bung)

  • Shake the bottle well, making sure the cap is firmly on the bottle.
  • Remove the cap.
  • Place the bottle the right way up on a flat surface.
  • Put the tip of the syringe into the opening of the bottle and make sure it is in the liquid.
  • Pull the plunger back until you have drawn the right amount of liquid into the syringe.
  • You may need to tilt the bottle so the tip of the syringe stays in the liquid and you do not draw air up into the syringe. Sometimes it is easier to get the syringe into the liquid if you pour a small amount of the liquid into a clean pot before taking it up into the syringe. Be careful not to spill the medicine.

Giving the medicine

  • Make sure that your child is sitting up or standing.
  • Put the syringe into your child’s mouth, with the tip near the inside of their cheek.
  • Push the plunger in slowly, giving your child time to swallow the medicine as it squirts out. Do not push the plunger too quickly as the medicine may come out too quickly and your child may choke.

After giving the medicine

  • Wash the syringe straight away using fresh, soapy water. Draw the plunger in and out in the soapy water several times. Then rinse the syringe in clean water in the same way.
  • If the medicine bottle has a rubber bung you can usually keep it in the bottle all the time. Wipe the top of the bung with a damp paper towel after each dose and put the cap over it between doses. Some bungs need to be removed from the bottle, and washed before and after each use. Your pharmacist will advise you about this.

10 Ways to Get Kids to Take Medicine

3. Get help from your doctor.

“Some medications taste better than others, and some can be given twice a day instead of four times a day,” Giuliano says. Your doctor may be able to choose medicines that taste better or are more concentrated and need to be taken less often. If you are having trouble, ask for help, Giuliano advises.

4. Improve the flavor.

There may be flavor options for some types of medicines. Pharmacists can use a product called FLAVORx to make medicines taste better. If your children are having trouble taking their medicine, ask your doctor about this option.

5. Add medicine to food.

In most cases, it is safe to crush a pill or open a capsule and disguise the medicine in a favorite food, Giuliano says. But, she warns, always ask your doctor first: Some pills, such as a time-release medicine, may be altered if you open or crush them. You also need to make sure your children eat all the food so they get the full dose of medicine.

6. Fool the tongue.

Some taste-deflection tips include coating the tongue with syrup or giving the child something cold, like a Popsicle, before they take medicine, or washing away the taste quickly with something sweet after they take medicine. “I often suggest dipping a spoon in chocolate syrup before filling it with medicine,” Giuliano says. “The chocolate coats the tongue before the medicine goes down.”

7. Bypass the tongue.

“That’s the tip that worked best for us,” McMaster says. “We put Connor in his high chair, pinched his cheeks, used a medicine dispenser to get the medicine into Connor’s mouth, and then stroked under his chin to get him to swallow before he could spit it back out at us.”

Giuliano agrees that that’s a tried-and-true method. Parents can use a dropper or a syringe to get the medicines to the back or side of the tongue. But with this method you need to make sure the child is firmly supported and upright to prevent choking, Giuliano warns. “Another way to get kids to swallow is to blow gently in their face.”

8. Give a visual reward.

Older kids will often respond to a reward system. “In addition to verbal praise, give kids a sticker and put it on a calendar after they take the medicine,” Giuliano suggests. “They will feel rewarded, and they will also be able to follow their progress visually on the calendar.”

9. Teach kids to swallow pills.

“Kids as young as 4 can be taught to swallow pills,” Giuliano says. She suggests starting by teaching them to swallow tiny pieces of candy. Some tips for swallowing include dipping capsules in cold water to make them slippery, breaking pills up into smaller pieces, and putting a pill in a lump of Jell-O.

10. When all else fails.

“Sometimes, especially with kids who need to take medicine for a long time, parents just run out of options,” Giuliano says. In these cases, kids can be restrained with the help of an extra caregiver, she suggests. One gentle way to do this is a hugging restraint with the child wrapped in a blanket. Another option is getting someone other than a parent involved. “Kids may be more willing to take medicine from someone other than a parent,” Giuliano says.

All told, getting kids to take medicine can be a frustrating experience for parents. But as kids get a little older, they start to understand the importance of taking medicine and may learn to swallow pills. Until then, parents will have to find the option that works best for their child.

Connor is now 6 and thankfully has no issues taking his meds. “He is over his ear infections now, and he is back to tearing around the house,” McMaster says.

Keep a positive attitude and talk to your pediatrician if you need help.

9 Clever Ways to Help the Medicine Go Down

1. Put on a happy face

“Taking prescription medicine is like any other thing you want your child to do,” says Tanya Altmann, M.D., a UCLA-trained pediatrician in Calabasas, California, and author of What to Feed Your Baby. “Act positive about it. Talk about ‘medicine time’ like it’s an enjoyable thing. Kids can pick up on negative tone and body language.” Alissa Robinson, of Colorado Springs, discovered a way to help ease the stress of medicine time. “I don’t let my 10-month-old see the medicine,” she says. “I lay her on the floor, cover her eyes a couple of times playing peekaboo, then cover her eyes again while I put the syringe in her mouth. She swallows before she knows what happened.”

2. Bypass the taste buds

Kids tend to spit out bitter-tasting meds. To avoid this, some parents continue to use syringes and droppers even when their children are old enough to drink out of a cup. “I always use a syringe so I can squirt the medicine along the inside of my kid’s cheeks and keep it off the tongue,” says Blossom Ruso, a very experienced mother of six from Santa Cruz, California. To do it correctly, slide the syringe or dropper along the cheek, toward the back of the mouth, and squeeze it slowly, recommends Christopher Tolcher, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California. Or you can rest a dropper halfway back on the tongue and have your child suck on it.

3. Disguise the taste

CVS Pharmacy at Target will add flavors such as banana, grape, and watermelon to children’s liquid meds for free, which can be a fun experience for kids who are old enough to choose their own. “Sarah was on antibiotics for five months straight when she was just over 1 year old—every day!” says mom Heather Greene of Emmaus, Pennsylvania. “Luckily, we had her amoxicillin flavored, and she liked it. She called it her ‘moxie.'”

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4. Relinquish control (sort of)

“When my 2-and-a-1/2-year-old was on antibiotics, I gave him the option of taking his medicine in a dropper or in a cup,” Dr. Altmann says. “Having a choice gave him a sense of empowerment. He didn’t struggle with me because he felt like it was his decision.” You can also let your child decide when she’s going to take it—say, before or after bathtime—or what flavor she wants.

5. Have them chill out

“I give my 5-year-old son ice and have him suck on it for a bit before giving him his medicine,” says Gail Mithoff of Mission Viejo, California. “It helps numb his taste buds so the medicine goes down smoothly.” Use ice chips, since larger pieces are a choking hazard, and only for older kids. An ice pop also works well. Or you could put the medicine in the fridge. “Some, like steroids, have a bitter edge and taste better cold,” says Dr. Tolcher.

6. Warm the medicine

Eyedrops are hard to give, especially when little ones are flinching and squirming. Try this tip: Hold the bottle in your hands for two to three minutes to warm it to body temperature—sometimes cool drops don’t feel good! Next, lay your child down and aim for the inside corner (the fleshy part) of her eye. Even if her eyes are closed, some of the drop will run into the eye when she finally opens up. Of course, you may still need the help of another adult to hold her down.

7. Let them play doctor

Have your kid pretend to give a stuffed animal medicine before she takes hers. “It will help her get comfortable with taking medicine,” Dr. Altmann says.

8. Be honest

Don’t lie to your children and tell them their medicine is going to taste yummy if it’s not. “Once your kids get to the age of reason—usually 3 and older—you can explain that the medicine is going to make them feel better,” Dr. Tolcher says. “Appealing to kids’ sense of reasoning can be a powerful tool.” It works for Kristine Mancusi of Wallington, New Jersey. “I tell my 6-year-old daughter and my 2-year-old son the truth—that whatever prescription I am giving them will make their hurt go away,” she says. “I’m lucky. They take it, and that’s it.” And don’t refer to medicine as candy. “Never do that; you don’t want them to seek it out and risk overdosing,” Dr. Tolcher says.

9. Enlist your doctor’s help

If your child has an easier time taking chewables than liquids, ask if that’s an option. “With some medications you can ask for a higher concentration so you can give less,” Dr. Tolcher says. “For example, instead of one teaspoon of a drug at a 50-milligram concentration, your child could take half a teaspoon of the 100-milligram concentration. It’s the same amount of medication in a smaller dose.”

How to Ensure Your Child’s Medication Is Safe

Even though over-the-counter medicines don’t require prescriptions, they can still be dangerous, says Allison Muller, M.D., clinical managing director of the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, several studies indicate that OTC cold medications are not effective in children younger than 6 and can have potentially serious side effects. For that reason, always check with your pediatrician before administering medicine to your child. Today, more and more doctors advise parents to use traditional treatments instead (lots of fluids, rest, and TLC).

So it’s always best to ask your doctor or pharmacist if a specific medication is safe. For instance, if your little one has a cold, the flu, or chickenpox, don’t give him any product with aspirin or salicylates (this includes ibuprofen and regular Pepto-Bismol), which can cause a rare but sometimes deadly condition called Reye’s syndrome. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a safer alternative. Also, some cough and cold formulas contain alcohol, which your doctor may not recommend.

As for prescriptions, discuss these with your pediatrician before leaving her office. The FDA recommends this checklist:

  • What is the drug, and what is it for?
  • Will the drug interfere with any other medications my child is taking?
  • How many times a day will my child need to take this medication, and how long does she need to be on it?
  • Are there any side effects I should expect or be concerned about?
  • What if my child misses a dose?
  • How soon will symptoms improve?
  • Is there a less expensive generic alternative that’s as effective?

When you pick up the medicine, look at it before you leave the pharmacy. Is it what you expected—the chewable pills the pediatrician described and not capsules? Also review the dosing instructions that come with the medication. Unclear about anything? Ask the pharmacist or call your doctor.

How to Choose the Proper Dosing Tool

Liquid medications usually come with their own cup, spoon, or syringe to ensure you give your child the correct amount. “Always use the dosing device that comes with the medication,” says Dr. Tolcher. “These are more accurate than a kitchen spoon, which can vary in size and make dosing inconsistent and inaccurate.” If you lose these measuring instruments, you can always use one from a different medication or pick up a replacement at the pharmacy. (Just make sure the new one is marked with the units you need—milliliters, teaspoons, or both, for example.)

Dosage cups For kids old enough to drink from a cup without spilling, these cups have numbers on the side to help you pour the right amount. Measure by placing the cup at eye level on a flat surface.

Dosing spoons They’re like test tubes with spoons at the end and work best for kids who can drink out of a cup, but they’re more likely to spill. Measure at eye level, then have your child sip from the spoon.

Droppers These are for infants and young children who can’t drink from a cup. After you measure at eye level, give the dropper to your child quickly because it may drip.

Syringes They allow you to squirt medicine into the back of a baby’s or young child’s mouth, where it’s less likely to spill out. Some syringes come with a cap to prevent medicine from leaking. These caps are a choking hazard, so be sure to remove them before putting the syringe in your child’s mouth. Research shows that parents measure most accurately with syringes versus cups. So when exact dosing really matters, first measure with a syringe and then place the medicine in a cup, if that’s what the child prefers.

When Should You Throw Out Old Medication?

If you’re like most parents, you probably have old medications and leftover prescriptions taking up space in your medicine cabinet. What to toss:

  • Get rid of any old meds you aren’t using or that have expired, plus outdated products such as syrup of ipecac (not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics), mercury thermometers (can break and expose your child to mercury), hydrogen peroxide (good for laundry, but soap is better for cleaning wounds), baby aspirin (can cause Reye’s syndrome), and OTC cough and cold meds for kids under 6 (not recommended by the FDA).
  • Throw away any old antibiotics. “Always see your doctor if your child has symptoms you think may need antibiotic treatment,” says Dr. Altmann. “It’s important that your pediatrician decide which antibiotic is needed. Giving an antibiotic when it’s not needed, giving the wrong antibiotic, or giving the wrong dose can cause serious problems.”

Why does it seem like the sicker the kid, the less likely she is to cooperate in taking her medicine? Maybe she’s feeling too miserable to cooperate, or hates the way the remedy tastes, or a combination of both. Cajoling rarely works, and making demands has about the same success rate—what’s a parent to do? Here, pediatricians and parents who’ve been there share their expert tips on helping the medicine go down.

  • RELATED: What Not to Do If Your Child Is Sick
  • By Katie McDonald Neitz

Short of a spoonful of sugar, how can you get your toddler to take medicine? Try these tips from BabyCenter parents.

Keep in mind that some medicines should not be taken with certain foods, or with any food at all. Be sure to ask your child’s doctor or your pharmacist before combining – or following up – your toddler’s medication with a favorite treat.

Make it more palatable

“I tried the flavors that pharmacists can add to liquid medicine, and they worked great with my youngest daughter. I get everything in her favorite flavor, watermelon, and it all goes down just the way it’s supposed to.”
— Anonymous

“I’ve finally found the only way for my 2-year-old to take a liquid antibiotic, but it only works for the refrigerated chalky kinds. I tried hiding it in every product known to man, and he could always tell and refused to eat or drink for a week for fear I was poisoning him. Finally, I discovered vegetable juice smoothies in the juice aisle. They’re very strong (yet delicious) and naturally thick like the medicine, so he has no idea it’s in there.”
— Wendy

“My son wouldn’t take his medicine because it was very chalky and yucky tasting (even to me), so I mixed it with a teaspoon of yogurt. I called the pharmacist first, and he said it was okay to do with that specific prescription. Goes down easy now!”
— Anonymous

Make it more fun

“My husband and I pass the medicine spoon around and pretend to take a sip ourselves. It makes our 2-year-old want what we’re having!”
— L. B.

“When my son was little, we had a game. He would hold his nose and take his medicine, and then I would try to figure out where the medicine went. He never failed to take his medicine this way.”
— Brenda

“We tell our daughter to ‘think pink’ (or red or whatever color the medicine is), and then she takes it with no problems. Whenever possible, we give it to her with a meal or snack, and she’s been known to refuse the food until she gets the medicine!”
— Happy Mom

“I give my daughter an ice cube to suck on for a minute. This seems to numb her taste buds a bit. If it’s really bad-tasting medicine, she can suck on the ice cube between sips. It works like a charm. If you’re worried about your little one choking, try a juice pop or an ice cube in a facecloth instead.”
— Sherry

“Whenever possible we give our son his medicine when he’s in the tub. That way, if he does happen to spit it out or throw it up, he’s a lot easier to clean up.”
— Kimberly

“I do this crazy medicine dance – similar to the ‘Yay! You went potty!’ dance. My 18-month-old loves it and takes her medicine just to see me dance around like a lunatic.”
— melimartin

Try another form

“If your child won’t take a particular medicine, ask the doctor for an alternative preparation, such as a suppository or a more or less concentrated dose.”
— Mollie

“We discovered the beauty of ‘thin strips’ (medication in the form of paper-thin strips that dissolve on the tongue). No more battles or puddles of liquid medicine on the floor.”
— Anonymous

“We’ve had to give our son (now almost 18 months) medicine twice daily since he was around 3 months. My best recommendation if it’s liquid: Get a syringe and squirt it directly into the back of the mouth. It’s quick, usually mess-free, and doesn’t waste any medicine.”
— Anonymous

“When my daughter was 7 months old, she had to take antibiotics three times a day. She was all right until the last two doses: Those she threw up the second they touched her lips, and she’s made herself vomit every liquid medicine since. (She was just done, and I can’t blame her.) So, when she needed antibiotics recently, at 15 months, I asked for the chewable tablets, because the medicine came that way. My ped seemed surprised that my daughter could manage them, but she’s been handling the chewable acetaminophen like a pro for months, so I knew it was fine. The tablets smelled like ripe strawberries, and were apparently flavored pretty well. My daughter loved them, and we never had a speck of trouble getting them down.”
—flippet

“My 6-month-old daughter just hated taking medicine, so when she ran a terrible fever the ER nurse recommended acetaminophen suppositories. They’re a lot more expensive – about a dollar per dose – but they work in about 15 minutes, and I’m so glad to be done with the awful routine of wrestling with her, squirting the syrup down her throat, watching it all come back out seconds later, estimating how much more to safely give her, and then dealing with the pink dye all over her clothes and bedding!”
—dizzyLizzy

Be creative

“My 21-month-old had pink-eye, and I could never get the drops near his eyes. Then my great-grandmother suggested giving them to him while he’s sleeping, and it worked! When he was in a deep sleep, I’d gently lift his eyelid and put in the drops. He’d rub his eyes for a few seconds and then go right back to sleep. Genius!”
— big b’s mom

Do what works

“As a pediatrician, I’ve found that different meds require different techniques. Having the pharmacist add flavors works well for some meds (ask your pharmacist). Alternative forms (like dissolving tabs) are available for some meds. Chocolate syrup (the kind meant to mix with milk, but used without the milk) covers up the taste of almost anything. Pharmacies and baby stores also sell a lot of products to help. Most important, make sure your child takes the medicine and at the right time! It’s terrible to have to stick a kid with a needle or even hospitalize him because he didn’t get the meds he could have taken by mouth at home.”
— Anonymous

General advice about antibiotics

This leaflet gives general information about antibiotics for children. Leaflets on individual antibiotics are available on the Medicines for Children website.

This leaflet is for parents and carers about how to use these medicines in children. Our information sometimes differs from that provided by the manufacturers, because their information is usually aimed at adults. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

If your child has ever had a reaction to any medicine, tell your doctor before giving the antibiotic.

Why is it important for my child to take an antibiotic?

If your child is prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that they take this medicine so that it kills the harmful bacteria and gets rid of, or prevents, the infection.

How much antibiotic should I give and when should I give it?

  • Your doctor will work out the amount of medicine (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.
  • Your doctor or pharmacist will also tell you how often you need to give the medicine.

It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much and when to give.

What if I forget to give it or give too much?

  • Antibiotics work best when given regularly. They are unlikely to cause any problems if you give an extra dose by mistake.
  • Detailed information about what to do if you forget to give an antibiotic or give too much is available on the individual medicines leaflets for each antibiotic on the Medicines for Children website www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk
  • If you are concerned that you have forgotten to give several doses or have given your child too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services (details at end of leaflet). Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.

Can other medicines be given at the same time?

  • You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol, unless your doctor has told you not to.
  • Some antibiotics should not be taken with some other medicines that you get on prescription. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicines to your child. This includes herbal and complementary medicines, and some medicines that you can buy over the counter.

General advice about antibiotics

  • Children are sometimes sick (vomit) or get diarrhoea when taking antibiotics. Encourage them to drink water to replace the fluid they have lost. If it is severe or your child is drowsy, floppy or does not respond, contact your doctor, local NHS services (details at end of leaflet) or take your child to hospital.
  • Do not give your child any medicine to stop the diarrhoea unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Try to give the medicine at about the same times each day, to help you remember, and to make sure that there is the right amount of medicine in your child’s body to kill the bacteria.
  • Only give this medicine to your child for their current infection.
  • Never save medicine for future illnesses. Return any unused medicine to your pharmacist.
  • Only give the antibiotic to the child for whom it was prescribed. Never give it to anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same, as this could do harm

If you think someone else may have taken the medicine by accident, contact your doctor for advice.

Preventing antibiotic resistance

  • It is important that your child completes the course of antibiotic. This means that they must take the medicine for the number of days that the doctor has told you to, or until all the medicine has been taken. If you stop giving the antibiotic too soon, bacteria that are left may start to multiply again, and may cause another infection.
  • In the past, doctors may have prescribed antibiotics for many types of infection. However, this practice is now changing with growing concern about the risk of antibiotic resistance.
  • Bacteria that become “resistant” to a common antibiotic are no longer killed by it, and infections may become harder to treat. It is therefore important that antibiotics are used only when needed.
  • Many common illnesses, such as sore throats, colds, coughs and flu, are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, so your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for these illnesses.
  • Antibiotics do not always shorten the duration of an infection. Most children can fight mild infection such as ear infection or tonsillitis. It is now recommended that doctors do not prescribe antibiotics if they think the infection will get better on its own. You can give your child medicines such as paracetamol to help with symptoms while their immune system fights the infection.
  • It should be remembered that antibiotics can cause side-effects or allergic reactions. Your doctor will consider the benefits and risks of the illness and its treatment when deciding whether to prescribe an antibiotic.

Where I should keep the antibiotic?

  • Keep medicines in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight.
  • You may need to keep liquid medicines in the fridge – check the instructions on the bottle. Make sure the medicine does not freeze.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Who to contact for more information

Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about your child’s antibiotic.

An Easy Trick to Get Your Toddler to Take Medicine

Lots of children resist taking their medicine. And trying to force them to swallow it down can lead to power struggles, wasted medicine and a stressed-out family.

But here’s one little technique that really gets the job done for older toddlers…even though it’s a tiny bit sneaky and involved giving a smidge of soda. Here’s what you do:

Before giving your toddler his medicine, pour about an ounce of decaffeinated, dark-colored soda (like root beer) into each of 2 small glasses. Next, mix a dose of medicine into one of the glasses. (You can also try dark grape juice, but a strong-flavored, fizzy soda works best to hide bitterness.)

Now call your toddler, and while he watches put his medicine in a spoon and say, “Take this, sweetie, then you can have a little soda. Some soda for you and some for me.” If he willingly takes his medicine give him the plain soda…and a pat on the back. (A little later, gossip to his teddy about how he swallowed all of his medicine and made you happy.)

If your child refuses the medicine, repeat your offer: “Take this really fast, sweetheart, then you can have your yummy soda.” Play the boob by begging a little (ham it up): “Please take it. P-l-e-a-s-e!!!” If he refuses again, pout and say, “Okay, you win! You always win! I never get to win! Here’s your soda,” but hand him the glass that’s mixed with the medicine. Your toddler will guzzle the soda—and medicine—fast. He’ll be in such a hurry to drink it down before you change your mind, he’ll never realize he’s been hoodwinked!

Don’t gloat or say, “Gotcha!” when it’s over. That may make your little one feel tricked and cause him to refuse the soda when the next dose is due. After the soda/medicine combo is taken, show your child that you’re pouring the spoon of medicine back into the bottle and set him free again.

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Staylistening With Madeleine Winter

Recently, one of the parents in a Parenting by Connection class I was teaching sent me this story about a success with Staylistening to her boy. Staylistening is where we stay close with a child who is upset, listening without comment, judgement, criticism or harshness. We make sure that everyone is safe, but we resist the temptation to “fix up” whatever the problem is, at least until we have given our child a chance to release the feelings connected with it. After releasing the feelings, children are often able to return to their sunny, enthusiastic selves, almost as if the difficulty never happened.

Many common struggles, like this mother’s struggle to give her child medicine, are actually about other, more difficult issues. We may never know what these issues are, but our children’s little upsets provide an opportunity to drain the bucket of feelings that our children carry around, which then leaves them free to get on with enjoying life. In situations when we need children’s cooperation, Staylistening resolves the tension children feel and reduces resistance. Here is this mom’s story.

–Madeleine Winter, Sydney, Australia

“Recently my son, who is two years old, had a fever in the middle of the night. We put him in a cool bath and tried to give him medicine. Giving him medicine has always been a real struggle in the past – we have had to hold him down. Having to fight over it like this has always made us, and him, feel awful.

“The day before, I had talked with my husband about Staylistening– about not forcing things, and about letting the children show how they are feeling. So, when we decided to give medicine for my son’s fever, I wanted to try something different. My husband was worried about letting my boy cry about taking the medicine and wanted to force him to take it, but I convinced him to give it a try.

“So I took a deep breath and said to my son, “I’m sorry in the past I have felt that I had to force you to take this,” and just held out the syringe with the medicine where he could see it, but did not try to make him take it. He started to cry hard. When the crying quieted down, I brought the syringe where he could see it, and asked “Are you ready to take this now?” And he started crying again.

“After a long time of crying (maybe 1 ½ hours), we decided that it was really time for him to take the medicine, and I apologised to him as I gave it to him. He still cried, but not nearly as hard as earlier, and I did not have to force him to take it; he let me give it to him.

“The next day, I had to give him the medicine again. He cried some more, protesting that he did not want to take it, but for much less time than in the middle of the night. Then he let me give him the medicine. The third time, he needed to cry for only 15 minutes. The fourth time, he happily took the medicine without any tears at all.

“Listening to him through all that crying was not easy. Hanging in there for an hour and half in the middle of the night was hard, especially since my husband was not so sure it was a good idea. But I kept thinking that this was probably crying about a deeper hurt. As he cried, I felt sorry and guilty. But then as the crying got less and less, I could tell that we had done the right thing by Staylistening to him. I feel a great sense of relief that I don’t have to force him anymore when he needs to take medication.”

– A mother in Sydney, Australia

Madeleine’s next Online Skills Building Class starts February 13, 2017. Get weekly support for your parenting using Hand in Hand tools.

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