It’s stressful when your kids are sick and even more stressful when they refuse to take their medicines. Not to mention the icky stickiness that is almost impossible to wash off your skin. In this blog I will share with you some tips I have learnt over the years to help make the medicine go down.
1. Disguise the taste
Many over the counter liquid medications available for kids are flavoured. Look on the bottle to see which flavour you are buying. Some brands have different options for the same drug such as Panado’s strawberry and peppermint flavours. Some brands may have the same flavours but taste different. My daughter prefers the strawberry flavour of Calpol than that of Panado. If the medication needs to be made up by a pharmacist, ask them to flavour the medication if possible.
Unfortunately, some meds just taste awful and not all pharmacies stock flavourings. You’ll need to get creative here. You can mix the liquid with fresh fruit or vegetable juice and even honey (if your child is over one year). You can also try mixing meds with milk or yoghurt but the calcium may interfere with the effects of some medications, particularly with certain antibiotics. Acidic foods may also inactivate some antibiotics. It’s important to ask your pharmacist and read the patient information leaflet before you decide to try this method.
If you are hiding the medication in a food or drink, keep the volume small so that the entire dose can be taken. Don’t mix with a full bottle or cup of juice if your child will not finish this.
I always use a syringe and squirt the medicine along the inside of the cheeks and not onto the tongue. This way you can bypass the taste buds a little. You can also use a medicine dropper the same way. Slide the syringe or dropper along the cheek towards the back of the mouth and squirt the medicine slowly. Do not aim for the throat as your child will gag and cough and if you aim too far in front of the mouth the medicine will simply be spat out.
Using a syringe also allows you to give correct dosages. In kids it’s vital you give the correct dosage of medication. You can wash and reuse the syringes but after a while you should replace them.
3. Keep it chilled
You can also numb the taste buds beforehand. Your child can suck on a block of ice if he or she is older or you could try an ice-lolly for a younger child. Some medications can also be stored in the fridge, which can make them taste better.
4. Wash it down
Whilst Mary Poppins recommended a spoonful of sugar, I’m not sure many of us moms will be too happy with the after effects of this sugar rush before bedtime.
Have a glass of water or your child’s favourite drink on standby to drink as soon as they swallow just so they can wash their taste buds.
5. Coat the taste buds
You can try giving your child a spoonful of something thick and sweet such as maple syrup or honey to coat the tongue before giving the medicine.
6. Try a tablet instead
Some liquid medicines are available as chewables. If your child is old enough you can try these. Whilst there are some tablets that can be crushed and mixed with food. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before you do this.
You may also find dissolvable tablets. Dissolve the tablet in a small glass of water and add some fruit juice to hide the taste as these can be extremely bitter.
7. Give your child some control
You will find that your kids will be more willing to take their medicine if they are in control or at least think they are. Allow them to choose when to take their medicine, for example, before or after the bath. They can also choose what flavour medicine they would like when you are buying it for them.
IF IT WORKS, STICK TO IT
You might find that more than one trick is necessary. If you have found a technique that works, stick to it. A while back I tried using one of those fancy medicine syringes I got at my baby shower instead of a simple syringe (I had actually forgotten to replace the ones I had thrown out). These syringe type medicine feeders are quite big and I couldn’t get it far enough to the back of the mouth to bypass the taste buds. My daughter did not like this at all and I ended up wearing most of the medicine!
Do you have any other tricks or tips to get your kids to take medicine? Please share in the comments section below!
If your little one requires medicine on a regular basis, here is a medicine chart to help you organise the days and quantities: https://www.oneaid.co.za/resources/