Tips to Help the Medicine Go Down

One of the most frustrating and helpless feelings as a parent comes when your child is sick and blatantly refuses to take the medicine that you know will help make her better. If you’re one of these parents and have a fickle child who will not take medicine of any kind, don’t panic. There are some creative methods that work.

My daughter is extremely sensitive to tastes and smells. It has always been difficult to get her to take any medicine orally, or even topically if it has any kind of odour. The only medicine she would take orally as a baby was gripe water because she loved the taste of it. Gripe water is given for the relief of minor stomach upsets such as colic, cramps, flatulence and hiccups and can be purchased at most pharmacies and health stores. I have taken advantage of this through the years and used it as an aid in administering some medicines to her such as an anti-nauseant or acetaminophen. Most medicines for children do come in a variety of flavours and forms including liquid, chewable tablets and suppositories. If you find one is not working with your child keep switching flavours and forms until you find one that he/she will consider taking. Here are some ideas that worked for me plus more great suggestions from other mothers I spoke to.

Liquid Medicine:

If your children run every time they see the medicine dropper try giving the liquid on a fun spoon that has their favourite character on it. Measure the medicine first in the medicine dropper and transfer it to their favourite spoon. If you don’t have a favourite spoon yet go on a special shopping spree and have them pick out the spoon they like. This puts an element of fun into taking the medicine.

If you are using the dropper, squeeze the liquid into the side cheek area where they won’t spit it out so easily. The roof of the mouth or on the tongue is highly sensitive to taste and touch which may cause the child to gag or spit it out.

Sandra, a mother of two children under the age of six, had this idea to share.

“My son always takes his medicine through a straw,” she says.

Sue has three children and has a hard time convincing her 10 year old son to take pills.

“He still refuses to take pills and will only take medicine in liquid form. This can get quite costly since he needs to take more of the liquid according to his age and weight.”

Suppositories:

Suppositories are soft capsules which melt when inserted into the rectum. These can be a successful alternative if your child is unable to keep anything in the stomach. If your child is afraid of the suppositories try inserting them while he is asleep. If he is a heavy sleeper he won’t feel a thing. If he wakes up it’s usually after the suppository has already been inserted and the only thing left to do is to comfort him.

Chewable Tablets:

Chewable tablets are popular for the 2 – 12 age group. They come in different flavours and forms such as “softchews” that dissolve quickly in the mouth so the taste and texture doesn’t linger (or before the child has a chance to spit it out!). To help with the regular chewable tablets try giving your child a bit of fruit such as banana or strawberry to chew with the tablet. For older children who are learning to swallow pills eating a banana or taking a teaspoon of mayonnaise afterward will help slide it down.

Mixing Tablets With Food or Liquid:

If you cannot find a flavoured chewable tablet that your child will take try crushing the tablet and mixing it with a favourite food or liquid. Before doing this confirm with your doctor that the food/liquid and medicine can be mixed together safely and effectively.

Using a pill crusher (a garlic presser works just as well) crush the tablets and mix them into a desired food such as applesauce, ice cream, jello or pudding. If the colour of the crushed tablet mixed with the food makes your child suspicious, sprinkle some rainbow sprinkles (used to decorate cakes) on top for camouflage, or try crushing the tablets and mixing with a few drops of water first to dissolve. This mixture can then be added to a liquid such as gripe water, juice or water. When using a syringe, squirt the liquid into the side of the mouth and follow up with a favourite treat.

Treats & Sweets:

Children need to know there’s something good coming after the anguish of taking medicine. Theresa, mother of three, is thankful her children are quite cooperative when it comes to taking medicine.

“My oldest daughter, age 7, needs only a drink of juice or water as a chaser after taking her medicine,” she says.

Here are some ideas for chasers, providing of course there are no allergies:

* Teaspoon of honey (never give honey to a child under age two)
* Water or juice
* Gripe water
* Tsp. of chocolate sauce
* Tsp. of ice cream
* Chocolate milk
* Popsicle or freezie
* Ice cube (can also be used before to numb the taste buds)

Medicinal Information:

As a safety precaution, always check with your doctor on the name, dosage and strength of a prescribed medicine for your child before you give the prescription form to the pharmacist. Doctors’ prescriptions are often illegible so when the pharmacist fills the prescription, you can check the label yourself to make sure it’s right.

Acetaminophen
– relieves fever & pain
– comes in various forms including liquid, tablets (chewable & regular) and suppositories

Antihistamine
– relieves hay fever symptoms, itch due to allergic reactions

Antibiotics
– prescription medicines that kill bacteria

Ibuprofen
– relieves fever & pain
– nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
– comes in tablet or liquid form

Anti-nauseant
– prevention & treatment of nausea and vomiting
– comes in various forms including liquid, tablets (chewable & regular), and suppositories

Decongestant
– relieves nasal congestion
– sometimes used in combination with antihistamines to combat colds and allergies

Oral Rehydration Solution
– liquid containing water, sugar & mineral salts
– used during bouts of diarrhea and vomiting

Talk in Children’s Language:

Make the medicinal process into a game or story. One mother wisely used this method to her advantage when she told a story to her son about what was happening inside his body when he was sick. The story was about how a superhero (the medicine) used his mind and weapons to fight against the enemy (the virus) and won.

The 1 2 3 counting method can also be useful. Counting gives a child some time to get mentally ready to take the medicine. By the time you get to “3”she knows it’s time to take the medicine.

Another mother tells about the playful way she gives medicine to her son. “I tell him to hold his nose, open his mouth and close his eyes. It works every time!”

Finally, don’t forget that timing is everything. Avoid giving children medicine when they’re over-tired. Children become very unreasonable when they’re tired and administering a medicine they dislike may become an impossible task. Matching up good timing with some of these creative methods, and lots of love and patience, will help the medicine go down and give you peace of mind.