4 Ways to get your toddlers to take their medicine

As we move into the cold and flu season, one of the things us parents are having to prepare for is having to give medicine to our sweet sick little kiddos. It’s a good idea to go ahead and stock up on the essentials but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about getting prepared for the actual act of giving the medication. If you’ve ever had to give a small child medicine, you’ve probably had the realization that it’s not unlike wrestling a pissed off grizzly beer.

Giving medicine to one of these little demons… I mean precious little angels… can be a much harder task than you could’ve ever imagined. I swear, when you go to give them medicine, it’s like they become possessed. Legs and arms are flying everywhere, there’s screaming and crying, and other worldly growls and yells… and that’s just from the mom being kicked in the face.

The kids… oh man… the kids. Picture Linda Blaire on steroids. Their backs are arching, their heads spinning, arms and legs flaring, and once the medicine gets into their mouth, they have this amazing way of projectile spitting it back out without even having to use their tongues. It’s like they have some sort of special launcher in the back of their throat that can send a teaspoon of antibiotics flying clear across the room.

If you happen to have stumbled upon this topic, I have the sneaking suspicion you’re sitting in your kitchen trying your hardest to figure out a way to get your kiddo to take their medicine. Don’t worry, I’ve been there… more than once.  It’s frustrating and annoying and all you want is for them to take this incredibly disgusting medicine so that they will start feeling better. Reasoning and pleading with them isn’t working and just shooting it in their mouth isn’t working either. You’re last resort is to take them back to the doctor and see if they can show you how to do it. But let’s be honest here… no one wants to admit that their kid has bested them. So you’ve turned to the interwebs for advice on how to give these little booger’s their meds.

Well, I’m here to save you a drive and the embarrassment. It is possible to get them to take that medicine down, it just may not be the easiest thing in the world to do.

 4 ways of giving toddlers medicine

The poison apple

Okay, so you’re not really trying to poison your kids, but you’d think that’s what you were doing by how they react to it.

One way to get your kid to take their medicine is to sneak it into something else that they like. So maybe it’s chocolate milk, or maybe chocolate ice cream or maybe a strong flavored juice they like. You want to make sure that whatever you put it in is 1) a thick enough substance that it covers the texture of the medicine 2) that whatever you put it in can cover the taste, this is why chocolate tends to work the best and 3) that whatever you use doesn’t counteract the medicine.. certain medications are not recommended to use with things that are acidic (like orange juice) for instance… so just check it before hand. Once you know what you’re using, measure out the proper amount of medication and mix it in as well as you can.

**Warning- this has a 60% failure rate. They will know something is up and will be suspicious but it’s worth a try**

The bait and switch

Some kids are really easy to trick (I’ve never had the forutne of dealing with one of these kids but if you have one… lucky you!), so act like you’re giving them something special, like a soda, and instead of sticking the straw inside of the can, stick it in the measuring cup with the medication.

** Again, this has about a 70% failure rate but it’s worth a try**

The bribe

One of the things that has recently become effective in our house with the boy child, is making a trade. I offer him a bit of candy in exchange for taking his medicine. It can be a bit of chocolate or a Reese’s cup. He’s still not happy about taking his medicine but at least I can get him to take a little bit of it without too much fuss when he sees the chocolate in hand.

** you’re looking at about a 50% failure rate with this one**

The muscle

This is the hardest way to give your kids medicine but it’s also the most effective and pretty much what any doctor or nurse is going to do and tell YOU to do when you go see them. It’s the way that has been shown to me by multiple doctors and nurses over the years. No, your child is not going to be happy, no this is not going to be fun, but your child is on medication for a reason and when nothing else works, sometimes you need to resort to brute force. Now, until you get good at this, I recommend having some help with you but after a couple of times, you should be able to accomplish the same results on your own.

Step one- be prepared

First things first, get your shit together. Make sure you have your medicine ready, a wipe to clean up with, and maybe a treat for after. Have it all ready so you’re not having to fumble around for things mid wrestle.

Step two- the take down

Now, you’re not going to want to make them suspicious of your actions. Call them over to you on the floor or a sofa or bed (pretty much any safe flat surface with room for them to flop around like a fish out of water) and then take them down. Do you remember WWE back in the day? Yeah.. well pretend that you’re the Rock and pull a double leg take-down spinbuster. I say that jokingly but you will need get your child on a large flat surface laying flat on their backs in order to administer the medications. I personally like to be on the floor or a bed so I know I won’t have to worry about them falling off.

Step three-the dose

Next thing, you’re going to have your partner hold your little one down. Have your partner either hold the child’s hands up by their head so they can also brace the head while you hold down the child’s legs with one of your legs. Or you can have your partner hold down the arms and legs and you can brace the child’s head against your leg. This is just to keep the child from kicking and hitting or hurting themselves.

Next, use one hand to push the child’s cheeks together making a kissy or fishy face. This will help to keep them from spitting the medicine back out at you.

Now, this is when you’re going to want to sprout that third arm of yours because the next step is tricky… keep the cheeks pinched so they can’t close their mouth or spit, then using a syringe give them part of the dose and then very quickly pinch their nose off with the other hand and give a big puff of air in their face. The big puff of air suddenly in the face mixed with pinching the nose will cause them to swallow. Now we aren’t talking for a long stretch of time, normally this take less than 5 seconds and the dose is swallowed.

It’s not pleasant but it is effective. Once that part of the dose is swallowed, repeat until the entire dose has been swallowed down.

I’ve seen it take as many as 6 nurses and a doctor to perform this at the hospital on one of my toddlers but at home with just myself and my husband it doesn’t seem as hard.

Once you’re done, you’re going to feel like you’ve been wrestling an alligator but your child will hopefully have taken their medicine.

** this has a 95% effectiveness rate but is very difficult to do. **

I wish you luck desperate parents… I know this is not a fun task but hopefully your little one will feel better soon and you won’t have to go through this madness too often.

*** If you’re still not able to get your kids to take their medicine, reach out to your healthcare providers. This is a really common problem and they will not think it’s silly in the least bit.***






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Goldfish and Gin

I'm a perfectly imperfect large family mom with a love for family, fashion, beauty and supporter of breastfeeding and body positivity.

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