Children don’t come with handbooks, it’s the one parenting truth that exists for all of us. If they did, you wouldn’t have to worry about things like how to get your child to take medicine. You would just flip to the M section and there it would be, right under medicine. All the tips and ideas you need to get the much-needed medicine into their little bodies.
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While there’s no handbooks, thankfully there are people with experience. And most importantly, people who are willing to share those experiences!
My son has had to take more than his fair share of medicine in his life, due to having asthma, multiple allergies, and generally an overactive immune system.
He’s been taking pills since he was around 4, and liquid medicine long before that. While I’m not happy that is the reality of his short life here on planet Earth, I am happy that I have multiple tips to share with you.
Here are the best tips to get your child to take medicine:
1. Use A Syringe For Liquid Medicine
A syringe is the perfect tool to help you get your child to take medicine. It makes it easy to dose, quick to administer, and easier to control how much your child actually takes in.
While it costs a bit more than other syringes, the Fridababy MediFrida is the cream of the crop when it comes to syringes to help give baby the perfect dose of their medicine.
It has a pacifier attached at the end that helps them suck in the medicine directly to their cheek area, bypassing their tastebuds and greatly reducing the chance that they spit out their medicine. This way you don’t have to worry about how much medicine they received in a partial dose, you’ll know they received the correct amount.
For Toddlers & Older Children
For older kids, or children who do not take a pacifier, using a syringe such as this one is perfect. I always have multiple clean syringes on hand. Sometimes your pharmacy may be willing to give you extras.
Put the syringe towards the back of their mouth closer to their cheek and squirt. You might need to do two to three squirts to reduce the chance of gagging, depending on how much medicine you need to give.
2. Give The Medicine While They Are Sleeping
Your best bet is to give right when they are about to wake up, and while they are sleepy and about to be out for the night.
Use an oral syringe as this will help you stealthily give the necessary medication(s). Angle the syringe so that you can quickly squirt the medicine towards their cheek near the back of their mouth.
If your child is just about to fall asleep, they can drink a little water to help wash out the medicine, or you can wipe their teeth with xylitol wipes so any sugar from the medication isn’t stuck on their teeth all night long, promoting dental cavities.
3. Crush Pills & Give In “The First Bite”
Before my son learned to swallow pills, I had to get creative on the occasion he needed to take one. Thankfully, most medicines for children are given in liquid form or a chewable pill!
My favorite way to give a pill is to crush it and give with the first bite of something they love. For my son this was usually applesauce. You don’t want to put it in the entire amount because if it is a pill that tastes disgusting, they likely won’t eat the entire thing. Then you’ve got a wasted pill AND wasted food on your hand!
But if you crush the pill and give only with the first bite, they’ll likely swallow it down before they realize exactly what’s going on, and be SO overjoyed that the rest of their snack doesn’t taste so vile! You could even add a little honey to the first bite to help them have an easier time.
Other than applesauce, this can be done with dips like guacamole, salsa, hummus. Pear sauce, pumpkin butter, and peanut butter are also other options.
You can also use a small amount of ice cream, but I personally prefer to limit sugar with little ones, especially when they are already sick!
4. Give The Medicine In A Shot
For this, you will need a small shot glass or cup and a regular cup of juice. In the small medicine cup, you should only use enough juice to cover the medicine and help get it down. This works whether you are using a liquid medicine or a crushed pill.
Make sure you follow that immediately with a glass of juice. I mostly prefer orange juice, pineapple juice, or a smoothie for this as they have a more full-bodied taste, but any drink your child loves will do the trick!
5. Teach Your Child To Take A Pill
As soon as your child is able to understand the needed terminology, they are old enough to learn how to take pills. And it is easy to teach your child how to take a pill!
A child knowing how to swallow pills can make it easier to prescribe and administer medicine, since you don’t have to worry about the taste of liquid medicines.
If your child knows how to gargle, swallow, spit, blow their nose, gulp etc., they are likely old enough to learn this skill.
Tell your child that you are going to be putting a pill in their mouth, and they need to leave it where it is. You will then be giving them a drink, and you want them to swallow the drink with a gulp that will help the pill down. Then they can drink the rest of the juice.
When you put the pill in their mouth, you want to place it in the middle of their tongue near the back, but not so far back that they will gag.
You can use water, juice or a smoothie to help swallow the pill. I personally prefer using a smoothie since it is thicker and difficult to feel the pill in your throat.
Your child may get it on the first try, or they may need several tries. Try to keep it low pressure, and praise him or her if they get it right! Here are multiple alternatives to good job you can use to celebrate your child’s success!
It isn’t always easy raising kids. And figuring out how to get a child to take medicine is something that we’ve just got to do as a parent.
I hope this list of ways to get children to take their medications will help you and your child. I also hope that your child will be in tip top shape soon! Hang in there, you’ve got this!
And as always, if you come up with a great way to help children take medicine that I haven’t thought of, please do share!