Giving kids medicine can be torture for all parties involved. When my daughter was a toddler, the process would often escalate from bribes to pleas to threats to “ugh, fine, let’s just pin her down” as my husband and I would proceed to shoot a dose of syrup into her screaming mouth with a syringe.
The struggle is real — and universal. Thankfully, over the years, doctors and parents have come up with some clever hacks to make the medicine go down with less of a fight. Here are some ideas to try.
Note: If you use any of these tricks, make sure your kid still gets the full dose of medicine. And here are some tips for making sure you get the amount right, because it turns out that parents are pretty terrible at measuring liquid doses. Also, talk to your doctor before you add anything to medicine, and before you administer any medicine to a child younger than two.
Dispense It From a Bottle Nipple
Let babies take their medicine from their place of comfort: The nipple. You can either buy a nipple-shaped medicine dispenser, or as this Facebook post by nursery nurse Helena Lee shows here, you can simply stick a syringe directly into a bottle nipple.
Freeze Their Tastebuds
Here’s a hack from Herchel Scruggs of Gym Craft Laundry that involves ice blocks. Everyone loves ice blocks. She writes about how she gets her daughter to take her twice-daily doses of medicines to treat her juvenile arthritis:
If her tongue is cold and numb before she takes the medication then she will barely taste it. Let’s call this the frozen tastebuds effect. (It really took me too long to figure this one out.)
I start by giving her a popsicle a couple minutes before her meds.
Then I stop her mid-popsicle, give her the dose, and she finishes the ice pop.
It seems to be working with equal results regardless of the medicine. It works with creamy antibiotics, capsules emptied into juice, and mostly works with prednisone (but nothing can completely overpower the nastiness that is liquid prednisone).
Use the Chaser Method
Who says all those nights sucking on lime slices after taking shots of tequila wouldn’t one day provide you with parenting ingenuity? Similar to the ice block trick, have a cup of juice or milk on standby for when your kid has to swallow some nasty-tasting medicine.
Dip a Lollipop Into It
While you won’t want to do this if multiple daily doses are required, letting your kid dip a lollipop into their liquid meds and lick it off can be a fun thing. As mentioned above, just make sure they get the full dose. And don’t tell kids that the actual medicine is candy, as that has the potential to backfire.
Some parents swear by medicine flavour drops, such as these, to take the edge off of bitter liquids. Writes one reviewer: “I like to think I’m giving her a mouthful of tasty instead of a mouthful of torture.”
It won’t work for every kid, but there’s power in branding. Call the meds “superhero juice” or “monster fuel” or whatever it takes to get your kid to gulp down the stuff more willingly.