These days, there are a number of ways to make yucky medicine more palatable for children. Pre-sweetened medications and flavored additives are readily available –ask your pharmacist to add flavoring to a prescription – but sometimes a bitter pill or potion still has to be swallowed. Children can also be resistant to the mere idea of medicine – as every mom knows, a sick child can be resistant to just about everything! Here are some suggestions for how to get your kids to take that sometimes yucky medicine … and soon you’ll all be feeling better!
When Giving your Kids Medicine: Honesty is the Best Policy
Children know when they don’t feel well, and you should explain – in simple language that they’ll understand – what’s wrong and how the medicine will help. Tell them a little while in advance that you’re going to give them medicine, and try to put a positive spin on it. If you’re making a face while pouring it from the bottle, imagine how your child is going to feel. Let your child make some part of the decision about taking the medicine – picking out a special spoon to use, for example – to feel like they have some control over what’s going on. When your son or daughter does take the medicine, remember to offer kudos and a big hug, maybe even a reward to positively reinforce the experience.
If your child is taking medicine for the first time and is old enough to understand, try playing a game – pretend to give the medicine to a doll or stuffed animal. Let your child be the “grown-up”, which might make it easier when it’s time to take the medicine for real. Involving your child in the process is also helpful when a child has a chronic condition and medicine must be taken daily. As a parent, it’s up to you to present this in as upbeat a manner as possible, so your child doesn’t have a negative feeling about medicine before it’s even been tasted. If you take daily medication or even vitamins, make it a shared experience with your child – even mommy has to take her medicine!
Medication Tips & Tricks for Parents
For very young children, it’s often easiest to give liquid medication in a dropper or medicine syringe. Direct the medication into the pocket of the child’s cheek or back of the mouth, so it will be swallowed quickly and before there’s a chance to taste it (we hope!). For older children, look for a medication that’s chewable, dissolvable, or lollipop-like, a popular option for over-the-counter medications for children. If pharmacist-added flavoring isn’t available, try giving your child something cold to eat – a popsicle or a few sucks on an ice cube – before the medicine; the cold sensation will tone down taste buds. Conversely, give your child the medicine first, then juice or another flavored drink immediately afterward. You can also have your child eat something sticky to coat the tongue before the medicine is taken, like a spoonful of chocolate or maple syrup. If your pharmacist is flavoring the medication, pick your child’s favorite flavor. Medicine that comes in pill or powdered form can be crushed and combined with fruit or juice to go down more easily. Before you try this, check with your pediatrician or pharmacist to make sure it’s okay to mix the medicine with food or liquids. Mix crushed pills with applesauce or pudding or peanut butter – but remember to make sure that your child eats the entire portion to ensure that all the medicine is taken.