Help the Medicine Go Down

A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, it’s just not so great for growing teeth!

Dr Sharryn Gardener

A spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, it’s just not so great for growing teeth!

Of course for most children the only time they need medicines is when they are unwell. Just the time to be trying to cajole them take medicines which might or might not taste ok. 

Calpol and ibuprofen are often designed to taste quite nice – hopefully not nice enough to drink a whole lot of it! (In general toddlers or small children who take an accidental overdose of these generally recover well – it is still vitally important to keep it stored safely, even when you’re exhausted in the middle of the night).

When giving any medicines to children your approach will need to be tailored to them as an individual. Here are some suggestions that may help

It is often helpful to explain what the medicine is for and even how it works if they are old enough to understand. 

Being positive and even cheerful and matter of fact (this is hardcore I know!) can really help.

Relinquish Control
Allowing your child some control of the situation. It may help to ask whether they want to take the medicine in the lounge watching TV, in the bath or even in bed, and whether they’d like to be held or distracted.

Choose your Receptacle
Some children will prefer a syringe, for some a teaspoon will be better, or a small cup. Some will want it all at once, some in small bits with a strong flavoured drink after. 

Be Sneaky
Some medicines you can hide in other things, although be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Applesauce is the classic American tactic. Yoghurt, fruit juice or even ice-cream may work. Just make sure that they take all of the food or drink you mixed it in or they will miss part of the dose.

Be Strategic
Here’s a novel one – don’t just aim for ‘in’ when you squirt a syringe in a struggling toddler’s mouth. Aim for the back or the sides further back. This will bypass most of the tastebuds which are sensibly located nearer the front.

If All Else Fails…
Bribes may work and we see this a lot. Parents often offer big early when it may only be the first dose! Small incentives and even star charts which lead to a chosen reward can also work really well.

Experiment and see what works. Most of all remember it probably won’t be the last time you have to do it!