“A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Mary Poppins knew what she was talking about — because the struggles of getting kids to take their medicine are real.
Kids, especially younger ones, are known to fight when it is medicine-taking time, and even more so when the medicine doesn’t taste particularly yummy to their taste buds!
And being so young, they often cannot comprehend how important it is for them to take it. All they know is it doesn’t taste good or bothers their playtime, so they are not fans.
Toddlers will be toddlers, and it is typical for the little ones to adore the yummy stuff and detest the icky stuff. Unfortunately for them and all of us, the icky stuff can be good for them and be just what their tiny bodies need — such as medicine.
Parents know it, so you have to soldier on and get them to open their mouths wide and swallow it all down.
But oh, what a challenge it can be. Many parents end up scratching their heads and wracking their brains trying to find a way to get toddlers to take that cursed medicine without starting world war 100 in the household between mommy and daddy VS the stubborn tots.
It is a fact that toddlers are generally not fans of medicine, but parents have to do what parents must do. When your little one is not feeling well, you want to do everything you can to make them feel better.
You give them extra kisses and hugs, snuggle up with them in bed, give them their favorite doctor-approved food, and let them watch their favorite cartoons.
But you cannot get around the fact that you also have to give them their medicine. And a stand-off between you and your sick little one – or even an all-about battle – is never something you want, and it is certainly not something you want to be doing because you know that battling it out with them will not make them feel happy.
Mary Poppins sings about spoonful’s of sugars, but you are looking for less sugary ways to make that medicine go down! And so the age-old question goes: How to get your toddler to take medicine?
What can you do to be able to give your tot the medication they do not want to take but which you know they need? We are here to help you with easy tips and tricks to get your toddler to take their medicine.
How to Get Toddler to Take Medicine: Easy Tips And Tricks
Short of just scooping up that spoonful of sugar and stirring it in, what else can you do to get your little one to take the medicine they need? Getting your toddler to take medicine is much easier with these easy tips and tricks!
1. Try a Different Method of Delivery
How the medicine is given to them can honestly make all the difference. If your little one has decided that they do not like the medicine spoon, even a little bit, try to give them the medicine using a medicine dropper.
There are many ways, and you can try different methods to distract or amuse them enough to take that dose!
Another way to serve their medication may be through a plastic syringe (without the needle) to squirt out the medicine. Or maybe a cup with measurements that your tot can sip out of.
2. Aim Well – And Avoid Those Taste Buds
As we all know, tots detest the unfavorable taste of medicine. So a good trick you should learn is how to get that medicine in without them having to taste it all that much. How to do that? Well, minimize contact with taste buds!
Taste buds are on the front and center areas of the tongue. Bypass those tricky areas and place the medicine as far back as you can. Or you can also try to drop it on the insides of their cheeks or the rear gum area.
Yes, this will take a bit of maneuvering and angling, but perfecting your shot can make things much more manageable. Another trick you can try is getting them to suck on an ice cube or a popsicle right before giving them their dosage because the cold will temporarily numb their taste buds.
3. Break it up And Make it Easier to Swallow
Sometimes, your little one is resisting taking their medicine simply due to the fact that they are having a hard time getting it all down at once. They may be struggling to swallow it all.
So you can break it up and give them smaller amounts over many minutes instead of just giving it to them all at once. It may be easier for them to take it in if they do not have to get it all down in one big gulp.
Then again, if they are not having a hard time swallowing and are just maybe using this as a delaying tactic, it may be advisable for you to try another option.
4. Hide it
Ask your pediatrician if it would be ok for you to sneak in the medicine your toddler needs into food items or drinks. If they give you the go signal for this, you can try to camouflage their medicine, so they won’t realize that they are taking it.
There are many ways to hide the medicine from your tot. You can stir it into a small amount of fruit juice or applesauce.
You can even mix it into some ice cream. Remember that whatever you mix it in, your little one will have to eat or drink it in full, so they can take in the dosage they need.
5. Offer Treats or Rewards
Bribery is not always a bad thing. It can be viewed as an incentive to encourage and promote good behavior. In cases like these, a tiny bit of bribery can go a long way toward getting your toddler to go the distance with their medicine. It’s best to think of it sparingly as bribing them as it is rewarding them.
You can opt to promise your toddler a small but special treat in return for them taking their medicine. It can be a little trinket, snack, or cute sticker. It can even be something as simple as a word of praise or a hug, which can mean all the world to a struggling tot (and parent, too!).
A little reward can also be a way to say sorry to them because you know what a hard time they are having with their medicine.
6. Give Them Some Control And Let Them Have a Say
While trying to get your little ones to take their medicine, it is essential to work alongside them and not against them. One way to make them feel like you are working together on this is by empowering them.
Toddlers want to feel like they have independence and control, so give them opportunities to exercise their agency.
You can let them choose the flavors or colors of their medicine (if possible). You can also let them choose: Do they want to take it via a dropper, cup, spoon, or another measuring device? It can seem like a small thing, but it can help them to feel like they have some say in the matter. They will feel like they have some control over the whole thing, even if having actually to drink their medicine is out of their control.
7. Add a Twist And Make it Yummy
As we all know, a big factor in kids not liking medicine is the taste. They find it sickening, and all they want are yummy things.
Understandable, of course, because their little minds cannot understand just yet that even if it does not taste good, it is good for them, and they have to take it.
So ask your neighborhood pharmacist or medical professional if they can help you mask the flavor with a better-tasting flavoring like FLAVORx.
These flavorings are FDA-approved and medically designed to combat medicine’s unpleasant taste and smell. This solution may be what you want to make medicine time less of a struggle.
8. Make it Interesting And Fun
Yes, taking medicine can be unpleasant — but your toddler does not have to associate this necessary thing with negative emotions or memories! Sometimes, the very thing that you need is simply a little bit of creativity to make medicine taking more memorable and entertaining.
You can go a little crazy and make some funny faces or noises. You can also engage in a silly dance or song with your tot and applaud them as they finish taking their medicine.
You can also incorporate your little one’s play into medicine time because this will distract them. They will not be focused on the medicine they don’t want to take.
9. Be Mindful of Your Reactions
Kids will always look to their parents. They will watch how you act and respond to things. So it is essential always to be mindful of how you react come medicine-taking time. This will help guide how they feel about situations.
Even if you feel bad that you have to force your toddler to drink something they do not like, do not apologize like you are making them do something wrong. Just be straightforward and matter-of-fact in a good-natured way.
Better yet, always try to be optimistic about it. Being positive will show your tot that taking medicine is not a negative thing. And be mindful of your facial reactions, too — they can give you away.
If you try to give them their medicine with a grimace or frown on your face, this will make them feel like they are about to experience something unpleasant.
10. Help Your Little One to Understand
Studies have shown that children develop logical reasoning at a very, very early age. So, you are trying to figure out how to get your tot to take their medicine. In that case, it can be as straightforward as explaining how the whole process will work – in words and terms, they will easily understand.
Just let them know that what you give them will help them feel better. Remind them of the awesome things they will once again be able to do as soon as the medicine has done its job and they are A-OK again.
This will work better than simply glossing over things and fooling them into thinking the medicine tastes yummy. Kids will catch on if you do this, and they will feel like they can’t trust you.
But if they understand how it truly is and why they need the medicine, chances are they will want to take it (with some guidance and encouragement from you, of course).
You May Also Read: Laughter is the Best Medicine
11. Show Them a Lot of Love
Parenting can be challenging! When you and your little one are engaged in a battle of wills because they do not want to take their medicine, it’s easy to get impatient and frustrated.
You may even be tempted to ignore their feelings and force the medicine down. But this will only lead to even more stressful and upsetting situations for you and them.
The best approach that you can take is to adopt a loving, positive demeanor. Maintain your cool and relax, which will also help them relax. If your little one wails at you, spits out the medicine, or even absolutely resumes to open their mouth, try with all your might not to lose your patience.
Always remember: Be kind to your little one and show them much love. Even if they are being difficult, even if they are being defiant, show compassion and affection, and understanding. This is the first step to a stress-free medicine-taking moment — and the most important step.
Giving your tot their medicine can be daunting, but a parent has to do what a parent must do.
Our sure-fire strategies can make medicine taking a happier and more pleasant time for all. Find what works for you, or mix it up. Just remember to show your little one a lot of love as you go along!