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How to Give a Child Medicine When They Won't Take It

Updated on December 23, 2013
Pink Medicine
Pink Medicine

As much as we never wish our children to get sick, they inevitably do. Getting sick, is a normal process that all humans go through, helping us build our own immune system. Younger children tend to be more prone to getting sick since their immune system is not yet fully developed. Getting toddlers and children to take the prescribed medicine is very often the source of a lot of stress for the parents. Here are some ideas how to get a child to take the medicine when he or she won't take it. Before trying any combinations remember to check if it is possible to combine the liquid medicine with foods.

Hide the Medicine in Foods: Liquid medicine can be hidden in a variety of foods. After consulting the doctor or pharmacist, you may attempt to mix the liquid medicine with a spoonful or two of strawberry yogurt. This works especially well for Calpol (paracetamol suspension used mainly in the UK) since the yogurt completely masks the taste. A table spoon of chocolate spread like Nutella (can be run down by a drop of milk if its too thick) will also overpower the taste of most medicines and few kids can resist chocolate. You can also hide the medicine in some fruit and veg smoothies. Do not mix the medicine with the whole portion but with part of the portion to be sure that your child will drink it all rather then feel full half way through.

Use a Medicine Dummy: Easily available in most stores, and even online, a medicine dummy (pacifier) is a quick safe way to give a baby the correct amount of medicine. Simply fill the pacifier with the medicine and the baby will suck it out. It takes a few minutes for the child to suck out all the medicine but its certainly easier then wrestling a baby or toddler to take a medicine they are refusing.

Medicine Games: Sometimes a little bit of games make things a lot easier with children. Pretending to take the medicine yourself is likely to make your 2 year old want to join in. Putting the medicine in a spoon and gliding the spoon like a plane into your child's mouth may also help the child part his/her lips. Whenever I want the younger child to take her medicine, I would also pretend I am giving it to the older one too (I would put water in the older child's spoon). The younger child insists on imitating her sister to the point that she would actually take the medicine if she believed her sister is too. You could also come up with a 'medicine dance'. Think on the lines of a potty training dance. A 10 second ridiculous funny dance you can do when your child takes the medicine. This will give your child a motivation ta take the medicine. Kind of, drink this and watch mummy make a fool of herself.

Use a Medicine Syringe: Take a clean syringe and fill it up with the medicine. Squirt the medicine directly to the back of the mouth. This ensures that the child will taste less of the medicine. You may opt to offer your child a treat directly after to make sure s/he is more co-operative.

Sleeping and Medicine: Sometimes, a sleeping child is more likely to take medicine. If the medicine is oral, it could be mixed with some milk and the bottle popped into the child's mouth while asleep. Most children will suck down the bottle without even waking up. Other medication like eye drops or nose puffs are also easier done at night. Many a time a sleeping child will simply rub his eyes or nose and turn in the other direction to continue sleeping.

Cold and Medicine: Cold tends to numb our taste bubs so if taste is the problem give the child a popsicle or some ice cubes just before and right after taking the medicine.

Ask for an Alternative: If all else fails, ask for an alternative. A child may be willing to drink the green medicine but not the pink, might be willing to take the strawberry medicine but not the cherry one. There may also be some dissolvable or even chewable tablets or some suppositories that could be effective alternatives.

One last tip as a parent who has cleaned up way too many messes, try to keep medicine for the bath if your child is particularly resistant. That way, it will be easy to clean any spillages.


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    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

      Thanks careermommy. Many kids tend to be particularly uncooperative when tired and cranky so I guess it makes sense that you find it hard to administer medicine at that point.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to Give a Child Medicine When They Won't Take It, well shred with helpful ideas and so well put together.

    • Careermommy profile image

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      kikalina, nice tips. I actually have a hard time administering medicine to my oldest when he's half sleep. LOL. I like the idea of making it a game. Great hub!

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

      Thanks for your comments hawaiianodysseus. I have been stalking your hubs all day too :)

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      I'm constantly amazed at all the wonderful things I can learn from reading the hubs of dedicated writers like you, kikalina.

      This article certainly was no exception. Thank you for putting this article together and sharing it with us! Aloha!


    • CWanamaker profile image

      CWanamaker 4 years ago from Arizona

      Great advice. I know I have wrestled my kids many times trying to get fhem to take their medicine.

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 4 years ago from Europe

      Hi moonfroth....thanks for your comments. Did your children ever have problems taking their medicine?

    • moonfroth profile image

      Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

      Very helpful tips for parents of recalcitrant kids. Fortunately for me, mine have grown and gone!