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Avoid Medicine Meltdowns

Blog Avoid Medicine Meltdowns

It’s cold and flu season and that means medicine. To shrink household struggles, we asked family physician David Pletzer, MD, and pediatric pharmacist Kathryn Taylor, experts at Indiana University Health, to share their best strategies. Here, some creative (and successful!) ways to offer your child medicine. 

Popsicles work wonders.

Offered immediately before a dose, these cold treats numb your child’s tongue, so they won’t taste the full flavor of the drug.  Given after, their cold temp and syrupy nature can make the lingering taste of medicine swiftly melt away. Plus, in addition to being great, sore-throat soothers, popsicles can be a good incentive to get kids to take their meds!

Try role-playing.

If your child is scared to take their medicine, give Teddy a try. Pretend to give the drug to their favorite stuffed animal, doll or action figure. Seeing their buddy take the medicine can make things seem less scary.

Help them drink up.

If liquid meds don't taste good, follow them quickly up with a yummy-tasting, kid-friendly chaser like juice or chocolate milk.

Find the right flavor.

Many pharmacists can flavor most of your child's liquid meds for few extra dollars. Kids even get a choice of flavors (bubble gum, root beer or strawberry can make a big difference).

Squirt smartly.

Never squirt liquid medicine directly down the back of a child's throat. Instead, using a syringe, carefully squirt the drug into the space between the tongue and the cheek in very small amounts, and be sure to take breaks to allow your child to fully swallow. Not only will you reduce the chance of your child choking, you'll keep spitting out to a minimum (since you are squirting away from their taste buds).

Offer a nipple.

If an infant is scared of the syringe or dropper, try pouring a liquid dose of medicine into a baby bottle and let them suck it out from the nipple. 

Did you know? Some pill capsules can be opened up and sprinkled onto food!

A spoonful of sugar.

Try these sweet semi-solid mixers for crushed pills and capsule contents:

  • Applesauce
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Chocolate Syrup

Did you know? Most kids can start taking solid pills between the ages of 5 and 7.

The Golden Rules of Giving Kids Medicine 

  • Rule #1. Don't tell your child that medicine is candy. They might try to swallow some when they shouldn't.
  • Rule #2. Always double-check with your physician or pharmacist that medications can be taken with food or drinks, and that they can be crushed. Every drug works in a different way, so check in before you take charge.
  • Rule #3. Never associate medication with punishment or use it as a threat to your child. You'll create a negative association with something that's good for them. 

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