No toddler is a fan of taking medicine, but a mom's got to do what a mom's got to do. That's why you need some surefire strategies to get your toddler to take medicine.
When your toddler is sick, you want to do whatever you can to make her feel better — like giving her extra hugs and kisses, cuddling up with her in bed, or letting her watch her favorite video. But battling with her to try to get her to take her medicine is probably not one of your favorite feel-better strategies. So what can you do when your hot-tempered tot refuses to take the medication you know she needs? While Mary Poppins may have resorted to a spoonful of sugar, you’d like to find another way to make the medicine go down. To the rescue, these tricky tactics for coaxing your stubborn toddler to take medicine:
Try a different delivery. Delivery can make all the difference. So if your toddler has already turned up her nose at the medicine spoon, try giving her the medication in a medicine dropper. You might also ask the pharmacist for a plastic syringe (sans the needle!) that squirts out liquid meds, or a small cup (make sure it offers exact measurements so you can dose properly) — or another measuring device you think your child might be willing to try. Any variation in your approach may distract her enough to get a dose in.
Break it up. Give your toddler small amounts of medicine over several minutes instead of all at once. It may be easier to swallow if she doesn’t have to down it all in one gulp. Of course, if your kid feels that this strategy is merely prolonging the agony, this option isn’t for you.
Hide it. Ask your doctor if it’s okay to sneak the particular medicine into foods or drinks. If you get the thumbs-up on that, stir the medicine into a small amount of applesauce, ice cream, or fruit juice. (Applesauce à la penicillin isn’t half bad.) But remember, if you do mix the meds into something else, your toddler needs to eat or drink the whole thing to get the full dosage.
Take the right aim. Taste buds are concentrated on the front and center of the tongue, so bypass those finicky taste zones by placing the medicine near the back of her tongue. Or try dropping it between the rear gum and the inside of her cheek, where it will easily glide down her throat with minimal contact with taste buds. (Yes, this requires a bit of skill, and maybe an extra set of hands to keep your toddler still while you perfect your dunk shot.)
Offer a treat. A little bribery can go a long way in this instance. Promise your child a small but special prize in return for taking her medicine. Stickers or a little trinket might inspire her to open wide.
Watch your reaction. Even if you’re feeling bad about forcing your tot to drink something she detests, don’t apologize for it. Be matter of fact about it, or even cheerful (if you can pull it off) because this will signal to your toddler that taking medicine isn’t a hardship. And don’t let your facial expressions give you away either. Trying to get your toddler to take medicine with a grimace on your face will clue her in to the fact that she’s in for something unpleasant.
Give her a say. Empower your child by letting her choose between different flavors or colors of medicine if you have the option. That way she’ll feel like she has some control over the situation.
Add a flavorful twist. Ask your pharmacist if she can mask the taste of the yucky-tasting liquid with a better-tasting flavoring. The flavorings (ranging from root beer to tangerine) are FDA-approved and medically designed to combat the bad taste and smell of liquid medicines. It may be the answer to your medicine-taking troubles.