“But it doesn’t taste good!” I stare at my four-year-old son in dismay. He has the flu and I was really hoping that getting him to take the medicine the doctor prescribed him wasn’t going to turn into World War III – I should have known better. It has always been a struggle to get him to take his medicine when he is sick, with his most common complaint being in regards to the bitter taste. Tired of dealing with the battle, I set out to find ways to get him to take his medicine without me always having to go into full mama bear mode. If you’ve found yourself fighting the same battle, here are five tips for getting children to take their medicine with little fuss.
Use a Syringe or Dropper
Most pharmacies provide a syringe with liquid medicine that has been prescribed to a child. Even if your child is old enough to drink the medicine from a dosage cup, try using the syringe instead. Using a syringe will enable you to aim the medicine along the child’s cheek instead of directly on the tongue, helping them to avoid the bitter taste and swallow the medicine easier. Slide the syringe along your child’s cheek and rest it near the back of their cheek, then slowly release the medicine and encourage them to swallow it quickly.
Give Them Some Control
This works especially well with my four year old. I have found that begging and pleading for him to open his mouth and let me put the syringe in only leaves us both feeling frustrated and irritated. Instead of battling it out, I tell him that I know he isn’t a baby anymore and is old enough to take his medicine by himself. I hand him the syringe of medicine and a drink to wash it down with and nine times out of ten he sucks the medicine out of the syringe himself and beams at being praised for being such a big boy.
Chill the Medicine First
Bitter tasting substances can sometimes taste less bitter when served cold, so try refrigerating the medicine before you give it to your child. You can also try giving him a Popsicle or ice cream before it is time to take his medicine so that the cold can numb his taste buds a bit.
See if You Can Have a Fun Flavor Added
Many pharmacies offer an option to add a fun flavor to children’s medicine at an additional cost. For a few extra bucks the bitterness in a medicine can be hidden behind added banana or cherry flavors. The peace of mind of having a child take his medicine without fuss may be worth the extra cost.
Reason With Them
Most children over the age of three have reached the stage of reason – where you can explain to them the cause and effect of an action and they can decide that it is in their best interest to comply. In the case of medicine, try calmly explaining to your child that the medicine is going to make them feel better or make their hurt go away and that is why they need to take it, even though it tastes bad. Many children will respond to this honesty positively and will take the medicine because they understand that doing so will make them feel better.