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How do I get my child to take medicine?

No matter how healthy your child may be, it’s inevitable that sooner or later your little one will suffer a bug that calls for taking a liquid medicine. Some children are quite cooperative, but others need a little coaxing (or a lot!) to get the stuff down the hatch. And let’s face it—some medicines truly do taste yucky. Summon your patience and persistence and try these tips for helping the medicine go down:

  • Use the right utensil. Measure the correct dose with a cylindrical dosing spoon or cup. (Don’t use a regular kitchen spoon.) With a calibrated dosing syringe, you can squirt the medicine inside baby’s mouth, making it less likely to be spit out.
  • Try a mix-in. Stir the medicine dose into a small bit of soft food like yogurt, applesauce or pudding. Use only a small amount of food and make sure your child eats it all. But check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure it’s OK to mix the food and medicine.
  • Add a flavor. Many grocery or pharmacy chains offer a slew of flavorings such as chocolate, bubblegum or grape that can be added to prescription medications.
  • Try a different form. Ask the doctor whether the medicine comes in quick-dissolve tablets that melt in the mouth or tablets you can crush and add to a spoonful of ice cream.
  • Chill it. Refrigerating medication can make it more palatable. Check with the pharmacist to ensure it won’t alter the drug’s effectiveness.
  • Offer a reward. When your child’s sick, a little bribery isn’t a terrible thing. Offer to give a treat, read an extra story or play a board game. Keep it small—a usual course of antibiotics can mean 20 doses.


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