As parents, we want to do everything we can to keep our children healthy. At times, this means giving them medication to treat an illness or manage symptoms. However, getting a toddler to take medicine can be a struggle. They may refuse, spit it out, or vomit it up. As frustrating as this can be, it’s essential to find ways to make it work for their health. In this article, we’ll discuss seven tips and tricks to try when administering medication to your toddler.
Tricks that Work
When it comes to giving medication, sometimes a little trickery is necessary. Here are some easy tricks that work for making medication easier for both you and your toddler:
Disguising the medication in food
If your toddler is particularly picky, hiding medication in their favorite food might do the trick. You can mix medication with applesauce, yogurt, or other soft foods. Avoid hot or cold foods and acidic drinks, which can alter the medication’s effectiveness or cause stomach upset.
Using a calm approach
The more anxious or upset you get about giving your toddler medication, the more challenging it will be for them to take it. Try to adopt a calm and patient approach. Talk with a soothing voice and explain to them why they need to take it if they’re old enough to understand. If they’re not cooperating, try not to get angry or impatient.
Some other tactics to consider include mixing medication with a small amount of chocolate syrup, jelly, or honey. Also, ensure that the medication is at room temperature, as cold medicine can taste even worse.
Making it Fun
Make taking medicine a pleasant experience rather than a hassle. Here are some ideas to make medication administration more enjoyable for your toddler:
Using colorful bottles and spoons
Your toddler may respond more positively to a syringe, dropper, or brightly colored spoon compared to a regular medicine cup. A bright, colorful dispenser is more exciting to them and could make the medicine-taking experience more fun.
Singing songs and playing games
Singing a silly song or playing a fun game could make taking medication a more enjoyable moment for your child. Let your toddler take the lead here and try to make it a playful experience.
You can also consider reading a story, offering toys, or allowing your toddler to watch a favorite show during or after taking the medication.
Involving the Child
When your toddler feels like they have some control in the process, they may be more willing to take medication. Here are some ways to involve your child:
Giving toddlers a sense of control
For example, let your toddler pick their favorite spoon or choose which medication dispenser they’d like to use. Whenever possible, allow them to make as many choices as they can because it makes it more of a collaboration.
Involving them in the process
The more your toddler knows what to expect, the more manageable it is for them to take medication. Explain what you’re doing, how you’ll do it, and why you’re doing it. Talk to them like an adult to help them feel more involved.
It could be helpful to consult a pediatrician to come up with additional ideas to help your toddler feel more engaged.
Timing is Everything
When it comes to giving medication, timing can be critical. Here are some tips to consider:
Choosing the right time of day
Be mindful of when you’re giving medication, especially if it interferes with their sleep routine, mealtimes or causes stomach upset. Some medications may need to be given at specific times, while others may be more flexible.
Consider the child’s mood
There may be times during the day when your toddler is tired, upset, or cranky. This is not the best time to try to give them medication because they may be more resistant. It may be better to wait until they’re in a more receptive mood or switch things up with a fun activity before medication time.
Toddlers love routines, so try to keep medication times consistent, so they know what to expect.
Toddlers respond well to praise and rewards. Here’s how to use positive reinforcement when administering medication:
Praising the child
Whenever your toddler cooperates with taking medication, be sure to praise them and tell them how proud you are of them. A little encouragement goes a long way and reinforces the importance of taking medication.
You can also consider setting up a reward system for good behavior when it comes to medication. This can be small things like a treat or sticker, and it could help positively reinforce the behavior.
You can also use a chart to keep tabs on progress, allowing them to see their achievements.
Considering the Delivery Method
The way you deliver the medication could be a part of the challenges. Here are ways to change it up:
Syringes or droppers instead of spoons
Syringes and droppers allow for more precise measurements and help minimize any spillage, making the process smoother.
Mixing the medication with juice or other liquids
Ask your pediatrician if it’s safe to mix medication with juice or other liquids (like apple juice). It could help the taste go down easier.
Consider breaking the dosage into smaller, more manageable amounts spread throughout the day if applicable. Your pediatrician can advise you on that.
Seeking Professional Help
If you continue to struggle with administering medication to your toddler, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Here are some steps to take:
Recognizing when professional help is needed
If your toddler keeps refusing or vomiting up medication, inform your pediatrician. It may be that there’s a more significant health issue, and they need to examine your child.
Working with the pediatrician
Your pediatrician can help you come up with additional solutions to the medication management process. They may give medication alternatives, suggest behavioral interventions that can increase compliance.
Consider working with a child therapist who can help your toddler work through anxiety or distress when taking medication.
Administering medication to a toddler can be challenging, but there are ways to get around it. We’ve given you seven tips and tricks to try, but remember, your child is unique. No two toddlers are exactly the same, and you may need to try a few different approaches to find what works. Be creative and patient, praise good behavior, and try to make taking medication a positive experience for both you and your child. Do you have any tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.