How to Get Medicine into Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Health >
How to Get Medicine into Kids
My son who is turning 4 on Halloween has become very independent
and strong willed. He will not take any form of liquid medicine,
it all tastes bad anyway so I really can't blame him. When he
was about 2 it was no problem. He has had wingworm in his scalp
before and it was imperative that i gave him his medicine, I
even had his doctor to prescribe the RX in pill form. He still
detected the crushed pill in foods. I have almost given up but i
know i have to find a way to get him to take medicine in the
future, please give your advice or experiences. Thanks
While I generally stay away from bribes, I've stooped to using
them when my child had to do something really unpleasant (for a
short time - like a course of yucky meds). What worked for us
once was: wash down every dose with chocolate milk (considered a
real treat in our house), get a star/sticker if it's taken
without TOO much fuss, and a small pre-agreed reward (toy, treat,
outing) at the end of it all. (Do allow for some fussing anyway
- there has to still be the prize at the end).
My 18-mo old daughter is not sick very often, but when she is,
my husband and I find it almost impossible to get her to take
any medicine. I have tried different brands and flavors, but
she doesn't like any of them. She's about the least picky eater
I've ever known (next to my husband), but she seems to have a
real aversion to the taste of medicine. I've tried mixing it
into juice, milk and water, but the only way she'd drink it was
if it was so diluted that the medicine taste was almost non-
existent. (She'll spit it out otherwise or refuse to drink
it.) The problem is that she'd have to drink an entire glass of
juice, etc. to get all the medicine, and she doesn't typically
drink that much all at once. I've also tried mixing the
medicine into food, with very little success. The only thing
that's worked so far is mixing the medicine into pudding. But
again, I had to dilute it a lot, and how much pudding can you
eat? As I said, my daughter has only had maybe a half dozen
colds ever, but there have been a few times (last night, for
example) when she was so miserable and I know medicine would
make her feel better. I just can't get her to take it. I can't
even tell you how much medicine I've wasted, and I'm running out
of ideas. Do I just give up and watch her suffer through colds,
etc.? I'd love to hear what's worked for you!
If your child is still using a pacifier, there are pacifier
medicine dispensers that may work. When my son was about the
same age we had a terrible time getting him to take any
medicine. Out of desperation we tried the pacifier dispenser
even though I thought he was too old for such a trick, but it
worked. No more fights, he just sucked the medicine right down.
At least for fever medicine, I gave up on the whole dropper thing
and on the advice of someone at my then 10-month old's
physician's office, I started using suppositories. She would
spit out or throw up the fever medicine from the dropper, but
using what i call ''butt pellets'' is incredibly easy. Even now at
20 months she doesn't even notice them going in, and they work
very very quickly. The brand is Feverall and they have a dosage
up to 18 months and then a higher one for 36 months. It's the
same stuff in Tylenol--I don't know what there is for other medicine.
Cold medicine: look for chewable tablets for children. We just
tried this with our 18-month old and it totally works. Triaminic
children's chewable. Ask your doc first. He popped it right in
his mouth where it immediately dissolved. Before, we'd tip his
head back, restrain his arms, force the plastic hypo into his
cheek pocket (because his teeth were clenched tight) and shoot
it in there. He would either gag or spew it all back out. The
chewables are INCREDIBLE!
I'm probably going to catch some flak here, but my older son
wasn't great about taking medicine until about the age of 2 (the
jury's still out on the baby but he looks to be much the same
way), and we basically forced it down him. It was much easier
if it was a 2-parent operation. One of us held him, usually in
our lap, with his arms pinned so that he couldn't hit the
medicine dropper away, and the other parent stuck a finger in
his mouth so that the dropper could be inserted. We found that
the dropper had to stay in his mouth until the medicine had been
swallowed, to prevent him from spitting it out. After the
ordeal, we snuggled him to make him feel better, and did the
medicating as fast as we could, but it usually meant tears. Not
nearly as many tears, however, as when he didn't get medicine
and stayed sick longer. Sometimes unpleasant stuff has to
happen for their own good, I guess.
Have you tried Dr. Sears' favorite method? You make a ''cheek
pocket'' by pulling back one cheek and deposit the medicine a
small amount at a time into the cheek pocket. It runs down the
side of the mouth so the child can't spit it out and it avoids
most of the tongue so he or she don't taste much of it. You can
buy big medicine droppers in most drugstores marked in teaspoons
or whatever you need.
Tylenol makes baby throw up
Ever since she was a newborn, our now 8-month-old daughter has
thrown up whenever we give her infant Tylenol drops. (Not an
allergic reaction; she just hates the taste, and having the
Tylenol in her mouth seems to cause a very strong gag reflex.)
Does anyone have suggestions as to how we can get her to take
her medicine and keep it down? If so, thanks!
I had the same problem with my 2 girls until I went to France
for the summer and discover that most of the medicine for infant
are given through the form of suppositories . You are sure to give
the right dose and besides some pooping (that can happen) it is in ! :-)
The Tylenol molecule is available in the suppository form at any
You can also try to hide the Tylenol drops in yogurt, fruit sauce of
Good luck !
You should try Baby- or Infant- Motrin (Ibuprofen). It is also a
fever reducer/pain reliever and works much better ( at least
for my kids).
I highly recommend using suppositories. They work really fast and
are terrific when your child has a high fever and can't keep
My son has the same problem. The solution we found when he had
a fever last year was acetomiphen suppositories. He doesn't
like it, but at least he can't get it out of his system. And
speaking of suppositories, I discovered (when my husband and I
had the same flu a few days later) that there are prescription
suppositories for adults that stop you from vomiting. Never
thought I'd WANT a suppository, but it really worked.
My youngest was like this, and I tried various things none of
which worked very well. (But she learned to swallow tablets
at the age of 8!) The things my physician suggested and I tried
were mixing the contents of capsules with food (not terribly
effective because she didn't want to eat when she was sick)
putting syrup in pedialyte or juice (worked once or twice --its
hard to get it concentrated enough for a young one to get a full
dose of medication in the limited amount she would drink), and
teaching her to eat chewable tablets as soon as she had teeth
(but then only grape-flavored one, and if she was sick enough to
be even mildly nauseous by the time we administered them they'd
come right back up). Sometimes reducing the fever with a tepid
bath would make her feel better enough to keep the medication
You might also ask your physician about suppositories. I know
these are now available for ibuprofen, and it seems likely they's
be available for acetominophen.
What worked best for me was focussing on the idea that fevers are
an appropriate bodily response to infection and that only really
high ones really need aggressive treatment. (And even those can
be relieved temporarily by a tepid bath.)
Find out if your baby is old enough for tylenol suppositories
(probably is, since she is old enough to take tylenol). I think
they are readily available. They may have to be refrigerated.
Ask your pediatrician about the dosage. We got these when our
baby had a throwing-up virus - we haven't had to use them yet,
but they seem like a great idea.
My son and my nephews had the same reaction to cherry and orange
flavored tylenol, but had no problem downing the grape stuff.
You might try experimenting with the different flavors.
There are several brands of liquid Acetaminophen. Another brand
with a different flavor might work better for her.
Babies can detect 248 different tastes and their tongues give them good
information. If a child is throwing up something, it
certainly is an sign of incompatibility in my book. Is there a recurring
reason that you have been needing to give tylenol several
times over such a short period? What might be the underlying cause of her
illness/discomfort? In functional medicine testing,
tylenol is used as a provocative agent to determine liver detoxification
For an excellent resource on helping children feel better without drug
intervention, Janet Zand's book SMART MEDICINE FOR
A HEALTHIER CHILD, is excellent. It is available in paperback and not
expensive. Good luck!
You may have already tried this, but...when our son hated the
taste of the Tylenol we gave him, a pediatrician friend said to
try some of the other flavors. Worked like a charm! (Cherry is
You could try infant Advil or Motrin.
If I might be so bold, why does your baby *need* Tylenol? Would
it not be possible to use something else to meet your needs?
I never know if you'll get many responses or few, but probably
others will let you know that Tylenol suppositories may be an
option. Not fun, but effective for the child who throws up.
Check with your doctor re:dosage. Also it is not easy to find
but - as I recall - I found it at the Long's in Berkeley after
looking at several drugstores. I'd call around before going out
to get it.
I believe Tylenol makes a suppository for babies/infants--my
friend has used it when her child threw up the liquid Tylenol.
(It is also possible that it is made by another company with a
different brand name). It is difficult to find, for some reason,
so I'd call around to local pharmacies and drug stores to see who
There's an alternative to Tylenol by mouth; it's called FeverAll, and it's
an acetaminophen (the same medicine as Tylenol) suppository. It comes
in strengths small enough for infants. Just a little lubricant (e.g.
Vaseline), up the bottom, and that's it. BTW, my five-year-old NEVER
liked liquid medications, so I gave her a pill (Advil, it's candy-coated),
and that's all she'll take now.
My daughter also throws up with medication...she cannot stand
the taste, gets mad and spits it out...or throws it up (more in
the pre-verbal stage). We end up not using it by and large,
using lukewarm baths to bring down fever, and homeopathic
remedies to treat ear infections.
I have been successful in force-feeding pedialite, and then only
by doing VERY low amounts repeatedly. Not fun. Bribing with
candy (she's 4.5) works for the occasional dose of medication,
Most of the time, you can get away without medication, it's just
a lot harder. Then again, trying force medication on a child is
hard too. She has very sensitive sense of taste & smell and I
think she just can't stand it.
Have you tried rectal suppositories containing acetaminophen?
They are available in various dosages (80mg, 120 mg and 320 mg).
A few years ago, I also tried acetaminophen ''sprinkle caps'' which
had no taste and dissolved in any liquid. I believe they are no
longer available. But you might check with a pharmacist.
I have a 3+ year old daughter who often refuses to accept any
medicine. She appears to refuse to take it just on principle (sounds funny
with regards to a 3 year old, but seems that way). She took children's
benadryl a couple of times, saying she liked it and wanted more. But a day
later she refused it. And she refuses tylenol and antibiotics also. She
refuses to take them even if they are given with ice cream (her favorite
food), candy or anything else. She appears to understand that we and the
doctor all say she needs to take it to get better. And she definitely
remembers that she has taken them all in the past with no bad effects or
discomfort. We realize this is a manifestation of her general
strong-willed nature, and also a reflection of a desire to exert
control. She has even thrown up when medicine is forced into her mouth
(something we tried once on the advice of a doctor). We are at our wit's
end about what to do because if she really needs medicine
at some point (such as antibiotics) it would be a difficult
situation. And even now, as she has a virus, she would really benefit
from some medicine (tylenol when the temperature is 104). It seems almost
like a psychological problem. Any advice?
Have you tried putting it in juice? It doesn't work all of the time for my
kids, but hey I take what I can get! Good Luck! : )
Have you tried mixing liquid medicine with chocolate syrup? It was
very difficult to give my son medicine until I started mixing it with
some Hershey's syrup. If your daughter doesn't like the taste of
medicine, the chocolate masks it pretty well. If she resists the very
concept of medicine, you can just tell her that you're giving her some
chocolate and not mention that there's medicine in there too. When I
first tried using chocolate syrup with my son, I didn't tell him that
there was medicine mixed in. He eventually figured it out, and now
when he's sick he knows that he gets "chocolate medicine," and he
doesn't mind it a bit.
Oh I know how it is! If you have a strong willed and sensitive girl
like mine, you can't mix the medicine into drinks or food. Of course
they taste the difference - that's why they are selective eaters to
begin with. The point is that the medicine tastes yucky to her and
that you care so much about her taking it. Both reasons work against
you. What worked for us? For antibiotics have Zithromax prescribed
(once a day for five days only) and have it administered in
pre-school. My daughter took it without any complaints from the
pre-school director when it was time for children to take their
prescribed medicines. You'll feel like a failure when you hear how
easy they take it from someone else, but you'll get over it - it's
developmental. As far as Tylenol for high fever goes, I have learned
fast not to sweat over low grade fevers and let my daughter be the
judge. At 104F she is either so uncomfortable that she will actually
take it once or I threaten to bring her to the emergeny room at a
hospital where medical staff she has never seen before would be giving
it to her. That always worked. Not instantly, but when she saw me
prepare her bag and get my shoes on, she always took the medicine -
with daddy, while I'm not in the room. Big praise for the good
decision. Now at 4.5 years, she took Zithromax for strep throat at
home without a problem and without any incentives. Tylenol or cold
medicine she will take in the evening if the symptoms bother her
enough that she anticipates having a harder time sleeping. So, there
is hope at the end of the tunnel. (However, I am not sure how we can
get her to accept the shots for kindergarten that are due before the
fall). And someone smart invented medicated lollipops for sore
throats. What a winner! I do keep them locked in the medicine
cabinet and told my daughter that they are medicated. Was fine with
her, since we don't have candy around - just chocolate. Maybe someone
can put Tylenol into different flavored yummy tasting gummibears? I'm
My son also refused medicine, throwing it up, etc. Finally our doctor
recommended putting it in chocolate milk, which for some reason has
worked. He really likes chocolate milk and if the chocolate is strong
enough, it seems to hide the taste of medicine. Good Luck.
We give our 3-year-old his medicines using a small syringe (5 ml), which we
can squirt directly into the corner of his mouth a little at a time (rather
than by spoon or cup), and we always have medicine time on our laps, with a
fun book for distraction. It works really well, even if he needs multiple
syringes full of medicine. Good luck.
My son refused medication, also on principle, at that age. Finally I
resorted to mixing it with chocolate syrup, without telling him it was
medicine, and it was a bit easier to get him to take it.
We had the same problem with our 2 1/2 year old last year. We tried
different methods, chewable, syrup, mixing with food. Nothing worked.
Then our doctor told us to try a suppository which you'd think would be
worse, but he was okay with it (we called it a tushie treat -- a little
weird, but whatever works!) When he needed antibiotics, we had to bring
him in to Children's to get a one time shot. He was mad for a minute,
but it cleared up the infection immediately and we didn't have to
struggle with ten days of trying to force meds on him. Good luck!
You might try asking your doctor for pills instead of liquid. My son
was the type we had to hold down and squirt the medicine into the back
of his mouth with a syringe, him kicking and screaming all the while.
But to our surprise he readily accepted pills and swallowed them right
down, I think because it seemed more grown-up to him and also it put
him in control instead of us.
Just wanted to pass along this tip to other parents:
Recently my son was perscribed some medicine which
only came in pill form. He had never swallowed a whole
pill before and the bitter taste made chewing the pill unbearable.
My husband came up with the idea of inserting the pill (broken in
half) into red vine licorice (which my son likes) by cutting a small
sections of the vine, opening the ends and shoving the pill inside.
Works like a charm! My son was able to finish off the 6 weeks perscribed
medicine with no fuss or mess.
Giving eyedrops to kids
From: Becky (1/99)
A trick I was told when having to give eyedrops to a child was to place the
drop in the corner of the eye (nearest the nose) while the child is lying
down with his or her eyes CLOSED. Then, when the child opens his/her
eyes--voila!--the drop falls right in.
this page was last updated: Nov 20, 2009
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network