29th May 2019

How to give medicine to your kids: expert tips

If fumbling around with Calpol in the middle of the night is stressing you out, you need these tips from our friends at Echo, the free app that helps you manage your prescriptions…

Getting the kids to take their medicine can sometimes be difficult, can’t it? For young children the thought of taking tablets or strange liquids can be deeply unpleasant or scary, and they might not understand why they have to take it.

Echo is a free app that helps you manage and order repeat prescriptions for you and your kids. Their service includes delivery, but the final step from bottle or packet to mouth can still be difficult. Fortunately, the team there are full of great advice. Here are their six simple solutions for how to get kids to take their medicine properly.

1. Improve the taste

Most of our taste buds are located at the back of the tongue, so placing the medicine on the inside of your child’s cheek will reduce the taste. For older children, drinking a glass of icy water before taking the medicine can also lessen the taste.

If possible, you can also mix the medicine with food or drink to make it easier for your child to swallow but first, check with your GP that doing this is safe. If not, they may be able to prescribe medicines that taste better or are easier to swallow.

If your child has swallowed liquid medication, give them a nice drink to have immediately afterwards. This will help mask the taste of the medicine.

2. Explain why the medicine helps

If your toddler is downright refusing to take their medicine, talk to them and find out what is wrong. Is it the taste? Are they scared about choking? Acknowledge their fears, as this will help you talk to them in a reassuring manner. Be open and honest with your child:

Reassure them that they are not taking the medicine because they have been naughty.

Tell them that the medicine will make them strong and healthy,as well as what might happen if they don’t take it.

Don’t be too honest, however—you don’t want to scare your child into taking the medicine!

3. Have a calm, positive attitude

Children respond well to encouragement, and we don’t need to tell you that getting angry with them for not taking their medicine may have the opposite effect of making the little ones even more resistant.

Kids will also imitate the behaviour of their parents or guardians, so it’s important to show them how easy and painless the process of swallowing tablets can be (especially if it’s their first time taking a particular medicine and they seem distressed).

4. Give them choices

Providing your child with limited options will give them some choice but also make them realise that they have to take the medicine. These choices will make your child feel like they’re more in control, even if they don’t quite understand why they need to take the medicine. Examples include:

“Do you want to take the medicine with apple juice or orange juice?”

“Would you like to take it from a spoon or drinking out of a cup?”

“Where would you like to take it?”

“What time would you like to take it?”

If your child prefers to take the medicine all by themselves, make sure they are supervised.

5. Have suppositories as a backup

Although not very common for a lot of medication, suppositories can sometimes be a useful option.

These medicines go into the bottom and are about an inch long. They have a rounded or bullet-shaped tip to help them slide in smoothly, so they’re not as painful as they sound!

While the experience might be unpleasant for you or your child, suppositories can be a useful alternative to oral medication.

6. Get creative!

Children get lost in their imaginations, so you can also try to inject some fun into the process. If your GP allows it, you can then mix the medicine into your child’s favourite food as a treat for being a little trooper. If the medication is a capsule or tablet that has to be swallowed whole, trying out some role play will help your child regain some control over the situation. Make them feel like a little champ.

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