Illness in a child is always unwelcome. Of course, no parent wants to see their little one suffer from a chesty cough or blocked nose. No parent wants to have a grumpy, whiny little mini-me stuck at home until the fever subsides or the cough is less phlegmy.
And NO PARENT wants to deal with a flailing, screaming, vomiting, mouth-pursing child who simply refuses to take his medicine!
Of course, when a child has the common cold or a mild cough, ideally, over-the-counter medicine should not be involved. But sometimes, doctor-prescribed antibiotics or other medications are needed and it’s then that the fun (not!) usually starts.
Because we understand the absolute agony involved in giving medicine to a reluctant child, we gathered these tips and tricks from veteran mums, to help ease this particular nightmare:
1. Fish lips
When my older son was a baby, giving him any kind of medicine orally was agonising. He would shut his mouth real tight and if I managed to get any medicine in, he would promptly vomit.
In desperation, I once asked his paediatrician what to do. Here’s a trick he taught me: gently squeeze your child’s cheeks until his lips are pouty (fish lips!) and then dribble the medicine in using a syringe. He is compelled to swallow this way.
Also, if you aim for the side of the cheeks, then you bypass the taste buds, which literally makes the experience more palatable to your child.
2. Break it up
This tip comes from mummy Jaya whose daughter (when she was a baby) would also throw up when medicine was administered.
What worked for her was to break up the dosage into tiny quantities. For example, 5ml would be given in 1ml doses. Laborious, but worth the effort!
3. Give them control
Children, toddlers and preschoolers especially, are bossy little things and like to think they are in control of situations. So use this trait to trick him into thinking you are relinquishing control over medication administration and handing it over to him.
It’s simple – just ask him to choose how he would like to take the medicine – e.g. dropper or cup, before bathtime or bedtime – and this gives him a sense of empowerment and control.
4. Hide it
Try disguising the taste of medicine by hiding it in juice, yoghurt or even ice cream. This method is used by many long-suffering and experienced parents.
5. Ask for alternatives
When a child is really sick, sometimes even having one less oral medication helps ease the stress, struggles and resistance.
Ask your doctor for suppositories when suitable as an effective alternative to oral medication such as Panadol. This works well with both my children. If your child is more agreeable to chewable medication rather than liquids, check with the doctor if this alternative is available.
Also sometimes paediatricians are able to increase the concentration of a drug so less can be administered. Ask if this is an option.
6. Turn it into a game
Have your child play doctor (or pretend to be Doc McStuffins) and ‘give’ medicine to his favourite toy. Next, you pretend to be the doctor and give the necessary medicine to your child.
7. Be honest
If your child is old enough, try explaining to them why the medicine is needed. Reasoning often works with older kids and even younger ones, sometimes.
Never present medicine or pills as lollies, as this may prompt your child to look for them and overdose on them if found, thinking they are a sweet treat.
8. Warm it up
Have you ever tried putting eye drops in the eyes of a squirming, shouting toddler? I have, and more often than not, the drops have fallen into his wide open and screaming mouth!
A tip a fellow mum taught me was to slightly warm the eye drops by rolling the bottle between my palms. Children often hate the sensation of cold liquids in their eyes (fair enough) so this helps a lot in that regard.
9. Chill zone
Get your child to suck on an ice cube before giving him the medication. The ice will temporarily numb his sense of taste, helping the medicine go down faster.
10. Scare them!
For mommy Carla, a good old “I’ll take you to the doctor for an injection if you don’t take this medicine”, works each time with her daughters.
Illness is scary if it gets out of hand, so in the right situation (and out of sheer desperation) many mummies may resort to scare tactics to get the medicine down.
Sometimes, a mum’s gotta do what a mum’s gotta do, right?
Mums and dads, got any more tips and tricks to add to our list? Share them with us in the comment box below.