Seeing your kid sick and uncomfortable is not easy for any mother. It’s heartbreaking when your baby is weak and crying in pain or fighting a fever. Nearly as difficult is getting them to take medicines.
Flu season hit us when my twins started preschool. We became frequent visitors to our hospital. We had appointments so often that our family doctor and nursing staff came to remember our favorite medicine flavors. Even my Wi-Fi began connecting automatically. We used to go back home with goodie bags full of medicines, but then came the struggle to get my children to take their medication.
No kid likes taking medicines, be they in the form of syrups or pills. My kids were no exception. Over the last 6 years, I’ve tried almost all techniques one can possibly think of. Some of them were a total disappointment, but a couple of them did work. Let me share these tricks now to help other moms in distress.
How to get toddlers to take medicine
Force-feeding medicines can easily become a traumatizing experience for kids, and reversing its effects can be even more challenging. Instead, try these simple tips to make the process as stress-free as possible:
- Don’t force-feed. It may scare the kid, and they might resist harder next time.
- If they are scared or pushing away the medicine, pause for a couple of minutes to allow them to calm down and talk to them gently.
- Talking to a crying 3-year-old does not sound like a practical idea, but it might help. Ask them what they are scared of. Maybe they don’t like the taste of the medicine, or the fear of something different or unusual might be bothering them. This will help you understand the issue you need to address.
- Role-playing and treating a sick toy by giving it pretend medicine can also impart a positive feel to the whole process.
- Make it their decision by asking the right questions. Instead of saying, “Who wants to take medicine now?” or “Do you want to take medicine?” change the questions to “When do you want to take medicine?” or “Who should help you in taking your medicine today, mommy or daddy?”
- Give them medicine right before their favorite activity. Scheduling medication right before screen time or playtime will generate less resistance as the child will be eager to get started with their favorite activity. It will also make the process less undesirable for them as it is followed by a happy time.
- While it takes a village to raise a child, don’t involve that village in giving your kid medicine. It may seem like an easy option to use every family member to convince the child, but outnumbering them to get the job done won’t go a long way.
What to do when your child can’t swallow pills?
Some older kids who are prescribed tablets may find it difficult to swallow the pills in the beginning. Use these tips to help them:
- It’s very common to experience difficulty in swallowing pills, and this usually needs some time and practice.
- Crush the pill to make it easier to swallow.
- Suggest a drink of your kid’s choice (like soda or juice) to help them swallow the medicine. (Check with your doctor/pharmacist if it is okay to break the pill before implementing the above two steps.)
- Talk to your doctor/nursing staff and ask them to suggest a simple step-by-step method of swallowing the tablets.
- Give it time. As the kids grow up, they get more control over their reflexes and anxiety, and the process becomes easier for them.
Tips for giving medicines to your kids
Here are some tricks that can help you get that medicine down your kid’s throat.
- Check with your pharmacist if the medicine is available in the flavor your kid prefers, like strawberry, banana, or orange. My daughters can take any medication with a strawberry flavor but won’t even look at orange-flavored syrups.
- If the medicine is not available in the preferred flavor, try mixing it in something sweet, like juice, mashed banana, or honey. Do check with the pharmacist if it is okay to mix the medicine with food before administering it.
- If the baby is old enough to chew, ask for a chewable tablet.
- Some medicines, such as antibiotics, can be stored in the refrigerator. Cooling the medication also dulls its taste, making it easier to ingest.
- Use a dosing tool (a syringe or a dosing spoon) to send the medicine to the sides of the cheeks, thus avoiding the taste buds.
Choosing the right dosing tool
If chosen wisely, a dosing device can take a lot of stress away from the process. While your baby might enjoy playing and eating with his favorite spoon, a regular kitchen spoon is not a wise choice when it comes to dispensing medication. Instead, you can choose from a variety of options such as:
- Dosing droppers: If your baby is small and can’t take medicine from a spoon or cups, you can use a dropper. Droppers usually come with the medicine and are clearly marked to avoid errors in dosage.
- Dosing spoons: These are spoons whose shape makes it easy to slip the syrup into the kid’s mouth. They come with the right markings and are a mess- and hassle-free option for giving the child his medicine.
- Dosing cups: When the child is grown enough to hold a cup and drink without spilling, a dosing cup can replace droppers and spoons. These cups come with accurate markings to ensure the dose is right.
The Accu-Dose pacifier baby medicine dispenser by FridaBaby
Whether your baby is used to a pacifier or not, this dosing aid from Accu-dose is an excellent tool for administering medication.
A no-mess device intended to make a parent’s life easier, the Accu-dose pacifier is a medicine dispenser that comes in the shape of a pacifier. The baby-friendly form makes it easy to put the dispenser in the baby’s mouth without any tantrums.
The device comes with a syringe so you can administer the medication with no fuss and spills. The easy-attach syringe releases the medicine on the sides of the cheeks to avoid the taste buds. It’s clearly marked to help you get the dose right. You can detach the syringe and close the tab to use the Accu-dose pacifier as a regular pacifier.
It’s easy to clean, dishwasher-friendly, and so compact that it can easily fit in the diaper bag or medicine kit.