Parenting • Mar 17, 2010

7 Tips for Parents | Getting Your Toddler to Take Medicine

7 tips for parents on getting your toddler to take medicine (and maybe even enjoy it!):

1. Be Happy!
Your children read your facial expressions, tone and body language. If everything about you says to them, “This is horrible and you are going to hate it!” guess what the outcome will be? Liquid medicine does taste bad, no question. So, put on your most relaxed, “Mom is here to help this go great!” Parental attitude makes or breaks this situation.
2. Pavlov’s Dog
No, children aren’t dogs. But, as Pavlov showed, you can create a response by repeatedly presenting the same cue. If you want your children to like taking medicine, or at least tolerate it, WHEN you give the medicine is critical. Giving medicine as you are rushing out the door, putting the kids to bed or just after waking them up sets you up for defeat. Instead, give the medicine after your child is fully awake and just before her favorite pancakes. “Let’s take your medicine quickly so you can start eating your yummy pancakes.” At night, give it after baths and before snuggle up and read time. Again, “Let’s take the medicine so we can move on to your book. Do you want to pick which book?” Always follow medicine dispensing directions.
3. Fancy Nancy and Her Glittery Cup
Anything you can do to make not-so-fun tasks more fun helps. In our house, we used shot glasses and added straws we cut in thirds. The kids loved holding the ‘fancy’ cup made of glass they had seen high on a shelf in the china cabinet. If you live in an alcohol-free house, consider purchasing a tiny “fancy” cup that is only allowed to be used when your toddler takes medicine. Do they love Spider-Man, Thomas the Train? Buy a cup with that character on it. Place it where they can see and admire it when they are not ill so they look forward to using it.
4. Just What the Doctor Ordered
When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your child’s prescription, you can pay a small fee to have flavored syrup added. These have been designed specifically to mask the bad taste of medicine. Letting your child feel a sense of control by allowing him to “pick the flavor” is an added benefit.
5. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate
If you prefer to add your own flavoring, first, pull up the medicine in a syringe, and then pull up an equal amount or less of chocolate syrup. Keep the ratio of chocolate to medicine 50/50. The first taste to hit their mouth is the chocolate flavoring which coats the tongue and decreases the flavor of what came next. Follow it up with a quick drink of juice from her fancy cup and you’re set! Always prepare the chocolate and medicine with each dosage; never add chocolate or anything else directly into a bottle of medicine.
6. It’s All in a Name
With rare exception, generic over-the-counter medicine is just as good as the name brand. Liquid children’s medicine is one exception. While generics work as well, often the flavoring is much less tasty! Consider stocking up on name-brand acetaminophen or ibuprofen when it is on sale in lieu of saving money with the generic. If using generics is a must, experiment with different store brands to find one your child likes best.
7. Numb the Tongue
One other thing you can do is give your child a Popsicle or ice just before your toddler takes medicine. The cold partially numbs the mouth so things don’t taste so bad.