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Child taking medicine from a measuring cup

Stress-Free Tips for Giving Your Child Medication

By Dr. Daniel Robinson, Coastal Pediatrics

Not all children will readily take the medication prescribed to them. Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity and a whole lot of patience to be successful.

The following tips may help even the most reluctant child take their medicine:

  • Consider chilling your child’s medicine, but be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist first. Some medications may lose their effectiveness when chilled.
  • Mixing your child’s medicine with a small amount of soft food, like applesauce, yogurt, or pudding, may make it more pleasant. But again, be sure to run it by your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it won’t lessen the effect of the medication. If they approve, be sure your child eats the entire portion of food to get the full prescribed dose of the medicine.
  • If your child has trouble swallowing pills or tablets, ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication comes in any other form. Some medications may be available in chewable tablets that can be cut into pieces and easily swallowed, or capsules that can be sprinkled on top of food. If pills or tablets are your only option, ask if it’s okay to crush them and add to soft foods as mentioned above.
  • Many pharmacies have flavoring like cherry, grape, or bubblegum that can be added to children’s medication to help improve the taste. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your child’s medication can be flavored.
  • Get creative. Perhaps your child would be more willing to take their medicine on a fun spoon or in a cup from their tea set, or by making a game out of it and pretending it’s an airplane coming in for a landing. Be sure to pre-measure the correct dose of medication in a syringe or clear plastic medicine cup first. Also, consider role-playing and allow them to give medicine to their favorite stuffed animal or doll first.
  • If your child is old enough to understand, it may help to explain that taking the medicine will help them feel better faster so they can get back to doing the things they enjoy, like playing and going to school.
  • Stay positive and praise your child for taking their medicine without a struggle.
  • If your child spits out their medication, call your doctor before giving another dose. Some medications can be given again without any issue, but others may be harmful if your child gets a little extra.
  • Never refer to a child’s medication as candy. It can send the wrong message and a child could accidentally overdose by mistaking it as a tasty treat. Instead, remind your child that the medicine is going to help them feel better and should never be taken without a parent’s permission.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.