One of the struggles of parenting sick children is giving them icky-tasting medicine. Lots of children hate it, and trying to force them to swallow it down can lead to wasted medicine and stress.
So how do you get your child to take medicine without spitting it out or throwing up?
Give them choices
When your kid feels sick, they lose their sense of control, so it’s helpful to give them options:
- How they want to take the medicine (from a cup, syringe, or spoon)
- Where they want to take it (on the couch while watching TV, at the kitchen table, on the bed, etc.)
- When they want to take it (after dinner, before taking a bath, etc.)
Your child may prefer to take medicine by themselves. Research by Scholastic found that children as young as 11 and 12 years old are consistently becoming more responsible for taking medicine by themselves. If you’re okay with your child taking the meds themselves, always make sure that they’re always supervised.
Explain why medicine helps
If your child is old enough to understand, which usually begins when they turn three, explain why they need to take medicine.
Talk about how the medicine will help them feel better so they could go back to school and play with their friends. Encourage them, that despite the unbearable taste, the medicine will help them feel better.
Opt for liquid, chewable options
Ask your child’s pediatrician or your local pharmacist about the formulations available for a certain medicine. Sometimes, medications come in liquid form or in chewable tablets, such as chewable iron supplements, that make them easier to swallow than most pills.
Disguise the bitter taste
According to WebMD.com, the bitter taste of some medicines is an ongoing challenge in children’s healthcare. If the medicine tastes too terrible, or if the consistency is difficult to stomach, children won’t take them.
If the demand is high enough, drugmakers add flavors like banana, grape and watermelon to children’s medications to make them more likable.
If these aren’t available, you can disguise the bitter taste by mixing the medicine with pancake syrup, chocolate syrup, pudding, or yogurt.
Reward your child
School-aged kids can be motivated by incentives. You can make a star chart, where they can get a sticker for every time they take their medicine. You can also collect their favorite toys and put them inside a “treasure chest,” and allow your child to pick up one item after taking medication.
Have the meds chilled
You may not know this, but some medications, like liquid amoxicillin, taste better if you refrigerate them. Other antibiotics, like liquid azithromycin, shouldn’t be put in the fridge as it can get too thick, causing more dislike against it.
Getting your child to take medicine can be frustrating sometimes. But as they become older, they’ll begin to understand the importance of taking medicine.
When it’s time to give them a dose of medication, take note of these tricks to make the process easier for you and your child.