So, your toddler won’t take medicine, huh? You have officially joined the “What do I do now?” Mom Club.
I have been in your shoes. In fact, I’m a well established member.
You have probably tried everything you can think of to get your child to take his medicine. And he has fought you on every attempt.
You are now stressed to the max because he won’t take the medicine for fever or won’t take the antibiotics for an ear infection. You know he needs it, and it’s the only thing that will get him well.
But what do you do when he spits out the medicine every time or gags until he throws up? He absolutely refuses to take liquid medicine.
And then, you have to worry about whether or not it’s okay to give him more for fear of giving your little a little too much medicine.
It’s frustrating, overwhelming and mentally draining. Especially when your child is already irritable and unruly because he’s not feeling well. All you want to do is help your child feel better.
So, if you’re wondering “How can I get my toddler to take medicine,” I’ve got you covered.
Try these 7 mom hacks when your child won’t take liquid medicine.
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7 Things to Try When Your Toddler Won’t Take Medicine
If you want to know how to get your toddler to take medicine without throwing up, try these simple tricks. They will save you a lot of headache and make the process so much easier.
Yes, this could also be referred to as bribing. But let’s be real. Toddlers are just at the age where stubbornness sets in. They are discovering that they have the option to say no.
Sometimes the best option for you is to give them something in exchange for taking their medicine. Of course, you probably don’t want to buy them a toy every time they gulp down that liquid gold. And you probably don’t want to stuff them full of candy every time either.
So, I recommend offering a few M&M’s or Skittles. You could even grab a few small toys from your local dollar store and keep them on hand. Then, he has the option to choose. Toddlers love their independence.
Disguise the Flavor
Often, the biggest deterrent when your child won’t take medicine is the flavor of the medicine. Incorporating the medicine into a food or drink they would naturally eat or drink can help get the medicine down with no fuss. Just be careful what you mix it with.
You should always ask your pharmacist what is best. You typically want to mix the liquid medicine into something with a strong flavor so it will mask the medicine flavor. Things that have worked for us and other moms are: chocolate syrup, apple sauce, or juice. Try to mix it with as little as possible, so you can ensure they eat or drink it all to get the full dose of medicine.
I have often had success giving medicine to my toddler while he is watching his favorite t.v. show. Even if you don’t allow your child to watch television often, it might be beneficial, and save you a lot of headache, to let him watch his favorite cartoon.
I wait until he is entranced and then offer him something to drink. He usually drinks it before he even knows it “tasted funny.”
Dip the Syringe
This is another way to disguise the medicine without having to mix it with anything.
After you fill the syringe with the appropriate amount of medicine, dip the tip into something you know he will like. This could be sugar, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup or some type of liquid or powdery candy. Let him taste the tip of the syringe.
It is ultimately tricking your child. But, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Numb the Taste Buds
This has been super effective for our household. Let your child have a popsicle immediately before taking the medicine. The coldness of the popsicle on the tongue will help to numb the taste buds.
You can even offer them another one after they have taken the medicine as a reward. Even my older kids love to use taking liquid medicine as an excuse to have a popsicle or two.
Like I mentioned before, toddlers love to feel in control. Take turns role playing and pretending to be the doctor.
First, let him fill the syringe and give you the medicine. Then, take your turn being the doctor. He will think it is all fun and games.
I have even heard of some moms letting their toddler play doctor with a stuffed animal or doll with success. This cute little doctor kit might help do the trick.
Use the Cheek Pocket
If nothing has worked up until this point, the pediatric nurses I work with recommend this. Use a syringe. Squirt a small amount of the liquid medicine into the cheek pocket and blow in his face to get him to swallow. Do this a little at a time until it is all gone.
If he really tries to fight you, you might have to use constraint. I know we hate doing this as moms, but sometimes it is necessary.
Try wrapping the child tightly in a sheet or blanket. Tip him back a little. (Not flat. We don’t want him to choke.) Then, follow the same steps above, squirting a little into the cheek at a time and blowing in his face.
What to do if Your Toddler Spits out the Medicine
If your child spits out the medicine, call the doctor or pharmacist before giving another dose. Some medications are okay to give another dose. However, some may be harmful if your little one has too much. Pay close attention to how much you think the child actually swallowed vs spit out.
Your doctor might also be able to prescribe a similar medicine that tastes better, so never be scared or embarrassed to give them a call back. They always want to ensure your child has what is necessary for them to get well.
A Few More Tips
- Give them lots of praise before and after giving the medicine.
- Use a syringe, like this one, that is easy for your toddler to use.
- Ask your pharmacist what flavors they can add. Then let your toddler choose his favorite.
- Explain how the medicine will make them feel better.
- Ask another adult to take over if you have gotten frustrated.
If you have had success with any other mom hacks to get your child to take medicine, I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Leave a comment below.