Tips for Helping the Medicine Go Down
If your toddler needs to take medicine, it’s logical to assume that he’s probably not feeling great. Try to create a relaxing atmosphere before you attempt to give him his medicine; children can sense tension from their parents, so focus on acting calm and pleasant, too!
Because of their susceptibility to artful bribery, toddlers can be somewhat more amenable than babies to taking medication … under the right conditions. With clever negotiation and promises of irresistible rewards in exchange for cooperation, you actually have a shot at a relatively pain-free experience with this age group.
A toddler won’t be able to swallow a pill, so administering liquid medicine or a chewable tablet is the way to go. These days, some medications come in dissolving tablet form, which can work well.
One parent I consulted suggested chilling liquid medication. Apparently the stuff can taste better cold, especially if a spoonful is followed by a frozen treat. Be sure to ask your pharmacist whether chilling the liquid will adversely affect the medication’s potency before trying this technique. Alternatively, allow the child to eat some ice chips—which they’re bound to enjoy—and then slip a spoonful of chilled medicine into his numbed mouth. With any luck, he’ll hardly notice the medicinal taste.
One of my friends, a mother of two toddlers, employs a completely different but equally successful tactic. She has found that simply giving her 18-month-old her own special hollow spoon to use for administering medicine works like a dream. Mom is happy because the medicine is measured, the independent toddler is happy because she can do it herself, and best of all, the medicine goes down without a fuss. If your self-sufficient child doesn’t take to the idea of using a hollow spoon, she might enjoy pushing the plunger down on a standard medicine syringe instead.
If your child is more comfortable with you wielding the syringe, try to aim the medicine toward the back of his mouth. This technique might shoot the medicine right past those sensitive taste buds and make the liquid less objectionable. Your child might also prefer that you give the medicine in small amounts, allowing time for him to swallow some ice cream or yogurt in between “squirts.” Foods like this can help rid the mouth of the “yucky” taste, whereas taking a drink of water might just intensify the taste by spreading it around the mouth.
Finally, my best piece of advice is to remain calm when a child cries at the prospect of taking her medicine or spits the stuff out. Anger won’t help; just wait a few minutes and then try again using a different method. Offering your child a calm environment for medicine-taking is much more likely to result in success for all concerned. An obviously stressed-out mom will just produce a stubborn, angry toddler. Play music, sing, or promise to read a favorite story or watch a movie together when it’s all over.
I hope your family enjoys good health this winter, but if those nasty, ubiquitous germs manage to make their way into your household, give these tried-and-true suggestions a shot. And if all else fails, why not dig into the cupboard and see for yourself whether Mary Poppins was onto something!
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