How To Get Toddler To Take Medicine—6 Helpful & Effective Tips To Try

how to get toddler to take medicine

Dealing with toddlers can be challenging, even to the most patient of parents. Simple activities like getting them to brush their teeth or keeping them in bed can be an agonizing ordeal.

It is much easier to give medicine to babies since these precious little ones cannot reason out or make as much fuss as toddlers. But as parents, you must do what you have to do.

Adults know that taking medicine when you’re ill helps to relieve symptoms and get you on the road to recovery faster. However, getting that point across to your toddler isn’t so simple. 

The struggle of getting a toddler to take medicine can make even the most tolerant parent to want to rip their hair out. Hopefully, this article will help you figure out how to get toddler to take medicine.

Most toddlers have to take liquid medicine, and all they know is that their taste buds do not approve of such yucky stuff.

Sometimes it’s acceptable to give up and try again later. But you must keep fighting the battle when we are dealing with a prescription drug or a particular medicine that needs to be ingested at specific intervals.

If getting that medicine dropper into their mouth and the medication down your child’s throat is like suiting up for a war with the tiniest but most fierce tyrant in existence, then this article is for you.

Toddlers and liquid medicine

Liquid medicines are not pleasant on the taste buds of toddlers. Some toddlers can take chewable tablets instead of liquid medication, but for the most part, taking medicine is restricted to a liquid form.

Thus, the fight begins when your child is sick, and they have to take medicine, either over the counter or prescribed by your child’s doctor. 

If your child hated taking medicine from day one, or if your child spits the drug out the moment it touches their tongue, then you know that this isn’t going to be a pleasant experience.

Make sure you have the right tools

There are lots of hacks when getting a child to take medicine. However, always make sure that you get the dosage correct. 

If your child’s doctors have prescribed a medication, ask for a syringe if one was not included.

If you have an over-the-counter medication to administer, only ever use the medicine cup or syringe included with that particular medication.

Never cut corners on dosage

A spoonful of sugar might make the medicine go down, but you should never use a spoon to give medications to your child. 

The dosages of medicines need to be exact so that you are not over-medicating or under-medicating your child. 

A household spoon (a tablespoon, soup spoon, etc.) is not safe to use, no matter how strongly your child refuses medicines from a syringe.

how to get toddler to take medicine

How to get toddler to take medicine

If your child refuses to take medicine cooperatively, you must get creative. This is hard to do when you’re tired, exhausted, and want to get this whole experience over with to get your toddler feeling better and rested.

The following are some ideas for getting your child to take liquid medicine without such a fight. Just remember that one day everything will get a lot easier when your child is big enough to swallow pills.

1. The fake out

If the taste or the look of the medicine is what gets your children upset and fighting the process immediately, try masking the look and taste so that they are none the wiser.

If the medicine comes with a cup, try dipping it first in chocolate syrup. The medicine cup will look like a sweet treat rather than a torture device. This will allow you to administer the full dosage before your kiddo even knows they’ve been duped.

This Mary Poppins trick is easier when you have the small cup than the plastic syringe, but you can still dip the medicine cup into the chocolate. You may have a more challenging time getting your baby to take the full dose when it’s a plastic syringe.

2. Ask for a different form

If you know there’s no way your child will take medicine in a liquid state, ask the doctor if you can get it in a different form. Acetaminophen suppositories, for example, are easy to give, and you avoid the entire issue of giving the medicine orally.

You may need the help of another adult your child knows and trusts until you figure out and become comfortable with giving medication this way. 

Your child’s pediatrician can also fully explain this different delivery method so that you understand the different techniques and aren’t confused or unsettled by them.

3. Mix it with root beer

Mixing the medicine with a caffeine-free soda such as root beer can help to mask the taste. Many parents try others like juice as a mixer, but unfortunately, the taste of the medicine may be prevalent, and you’ll fail to fool your child.

4. Ask if you can get it in different flavors

If you know your child doesn’t like bubble gum-flavored food, ask the pediatrician if the medicine comes in a different flavor option, especially if you know that your child tolerates grape, strawberry, cherry, or another commonly available flavor.

This is a simple thing to try for any parents, but if you are the one adult doing all the sick care of children in the house, save yourself the suffering and ask.

5. Restraint but care

If you feel like you’ve tried everything to get your toddler to take medicine, and nothing seems to work, then sometimes you have to resort to getting the dose down by simply being the bad guy and hold your child tightly.

Explain to your toddler that they have to take medicine, and since they won’t do it willingly, they have to come to sit on your lap. Put the syringe between their jaws, and try to squirt the medicine onto the back of the tongue so that it’s easy to swallow and they don’t taste much.

Remember to keep them upright, as children cannot swallow if their head is bent back. After administering the dose, tell your child that they have done well, and then give a hug or kiss.

6. Mix it with food

Foods like applesauce and yogurt are soft foods that kids like to eat and won’t think twice about. Mixed with food such as these, kids may willingly take meds without the use of force.

Just make sure you confirm with your child’s doctor that the medicine is okay to be mixed with a drink or food, as some are not. 

Parents must ensure that their toddler eats the entire portion of whatever the meds are mixed with. The same is true if you combine it with a drink.

how to get toddler to take medicine

How long does it take for the medicine to work

How quickly medicines work after they are taken depends on what the medicine is and what form it is in.

For example, pills are often absorbed within just a few minutes through the stomach walls. So if you take a pill by mouth, you should start seeing the benefits of that pill kicking in after half an hour or so.

However, children who are taking an antibiotic may seem worse after the first day or so with the medicine. This is because it can take two or three days for the meds to control a kid’s system and start to combat whatever the illness or infection is.

Most allergy meds (not pills) taken by children by mouth start to work in about an hour.

And for fever meds like Tylenol, you should see results in 15 to 30 minutes.

Get your toddler feeling better faster

Simple tips like avoiding contact with the tongue, aiming for the kid’s throat or inside of the cheek, mixing the medicine with juice, or masking the taste with food or chocolate can make your kids feel better about taking meds to treat whatever ailment they have.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with some ideas to use the next time your kids need medicine to feel better. Just remember that if one doesn’t work, try something else.

There’s no need to torture both yourself and your child. Something will work for you, it just might take a bit of experimenting.

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