Last Updated on 3 August 2022 by Dott. Sandro Cantoni
Reading time: 5 minutes
Having a sick child is one of the most trying moments you face as a parent. You try everything possible to make them feel better, like cuddling, hugging, and letting them watch their favorites series. Amid these trying moments, most parents still face the struggles of getting their sick toddlers to take antibiotic prescriptions.
Although taking medicines may be the most effective feel-better strategy, most toddlers resist taking them. Some of them end up spitting the medicine and forcing them to swallow it causing physical power struggles, a stressed-out family, and wasted medicine. However, as a parent, you have to find some tactics to coax your toddler to take their medicines.
This guide looks at some of the sure-fire tips on how to get toddlers to take liquid antibiotics with minimal struggles.
10 Tips and Tricks on How To Get Toddler To Take Liquid Antibiotics.
If your toddler is showing some resistance to taking their liquid antibiotics, adopt any of the tips below and see them work wonders:
Break it Up
Consider giving your toddler small amounts of the liquid antibiotic over several minutes rather than giving it all at once. Giving the medicine in smaller portions makes it easier for toddlers to swallow as it does not go down in one large gulp. However, this option may not work well if your child feels that the smaller portions are just an extension of their agonies.
Ask your doctor if it’s okay to hide the liquid-specific antibiotic in, for example, food or drinks. If you get the go-ahead, take advantage of your toddler’s favorite foods and drinks and add in the medicine. However, when using this trick, ensure that they eat or drink the whole mixture to get the full dosage.
Turn medicine time into a fun time. Being creative engages your toddler and makes them excited over the medicine. For example, measuring the dosage using a syringe does not mean that the toddler should take their medicine from that device. You can pour it into their favorite hero spoon, small cup, or feeding bottle.
But always remember to dose the antibiotic with the syringe or measuring spoon that comes in the package. To avoid dosing errors, which are quite common.
If this creativity trick does not work, you can still try another one. In this case, you can role-play with your child. Have them practice giving medicine to their favorite dolly or stuffed pet. Role-playing helps them get comfortable with taking medications.
Give Your Child Control
Consider giving your child some control over their medicine time. You can give them some options to choose from. For example, ask them to decide how to take their liquid antibiotic, whether in a syringe or a cup. Additionally, let them choose their preferred time, if possible. Whether before a bath, before dressing, or before going to bed. In addition, if they are big enough, allow them to hold the cup or syringe.
This trick works well for older kids. Make a point of rewarding them whenever they take their liquid antibiotics. You may use verbal words to appreciate them or visual rewards such as stickers. Rewards motivate your child to take their liquid antibiotics, by anticipating an appreciation.
Fool the Tongue
Fooling the tongue is a popular trick that most parents with stubborn toddlers adopt. It includes taste-deflection tips such as coating the child’s tongue with something sweet before taking their antibiotics. Additionally, you can give something cold like ice cream to cool their taste buds or wash the taste away with something sweet immediately after taking medicine. One of the common ways of doing this is dipping a spoon in chocolate syrup or sugar before filling it with the liquid antibiotic.
Toddlers read the facial expressions and body language of their parents. Therefore, when giving them antibiotics, try putting on a happy face and remain positive even if they refuse to take them. Putting on a happy face calms the toddler’s moods and makes them see medicine time as any other moment they spend with you.
Do not lie to your child that their liquid antibiotic will taste good. Instead, talk them out to help them understand the importance of taking their prescriptions. For example, if they have been missing school, you may get them to see the medicine as a quicker way of getting back to their normal routine and reconnecting with friends.
Use a Different Person
When all your tips and tricks fail to work, you might consider getting a different person to give the toddler their medicine. You may ask a caregiver or a child-friendly family member to help you out. Most toddlers are more willing to take their antibiotics when given by another person other than their parents.
What to ask the pediatrician.
Before taking a prescription from your pediatrician, ensure that you understand all the basics of the antibiotic, such as:
• How does the antibiotic work?
• How long should your toddler take it?
• Can you flavor it to improve its taste?
• What if your toddler misses a dose?
• How long will it take before the toddler’s health starts improving?
Additionally, when giving the liquid antibiotics, use the recommended syringe or measuring cup even if they take it from a different cup. Measuring doses using the recommended tools reduces the chances of over or underdosing.
Again, give the antibiotic for the prescribed duration and ask the pediatrician or pharmacist for the best ways to dispose of any leftovers. In addition, always keep all medicine in a cool and safe place out of the reach of children.
Getting your toddler to take their liquid antibiotics is one of the hardest moments you experience as a parent. However, you can adopt the above tips on how to get a toddler to take medicine to see what works well for your child. If you get a trick that works, stick to it. However, if none of them seems to work, talk to your pediatrician for help.
About the author
Hi. My name is Sandro Cantoni. I’m a Pediatrician. I work in the General Pediatric Clinic. Hospital of Neuchatel, Switzerland.
Yin HS, Dreyer BP, Moreira HA, et al. Liquid medication dosing errors in children: role of provider counseling strategies. Acad Pediatr. 2014;14(3):262-270. doi:10.1016/j.acap.2014.01.003
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