Best Tips and Tricks for Giving Medicine to a Toddler

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Kids get sick sometimes, it’s just the way it goes. There will be times your kids need medicine, be it pain or fever relief, or antibiotics for an infection. Babies are easy to fool, and can’t really fight you on it. Older kids are usually pretty resigned to the fact that they have to take it, and grudgingly give in. But toddlers? Nah. Toddlers do not care if they need it. They do not care if it’s in their best interest. Toddlers do what toddlers want to do. So when it comes to giving medicine to a toddler, you could have a fight on your hands. But, we’re parents. We’re the bosses, right?! We live our entire lives after kids being resourceful and finding ways to trick them. If your toddler is refusing to take their medicine, these tips and tricks might help. At least, they couldn’t hurt!

Imagine trying to hold down a slippery badger and get them to open their mouth. That’s a bit what giving medicine to a toddler is like!

Sure, they might take the first dose just fine. They don’t know any better! But once they taste it, it’s usually game over. Or, once they realize they HAVE to take it, their willingness to do so suddenly evaporates. If there’s anything you can count on, it’s that toddlers will do the exact opposite of what you want them to do. But we need our kiddos to feel better! And sometimes, that means the pink stuff down the gullet.

Before resorting to trickery, you can try to reason with them (LOL), or turn it into a game!

If your kid is around 3 years old or older, they’re old enough to understand why they need the meds. So just be honest with them, and tell them that the medicine will make them feel better. Give it to ’em straight, Mom Doc. And really, don’t tell them it’s going to be good. We all know that is a baldfaced lie. Tell them it might not taste very yummy, but it will be very quick. If you tell them it’s going to be delicious and then they taste it and realize it is NOT delicious, you’ve lost their trust.

You can also make a game out of taking their medicine. Toddlers might be a little too old to fall for the airplane trick, but rebrand the meds and call them something fun. Superhero Fuel, or Monster Power. Let them decide how they want to take it, and give them some control over the situation.

If that fails, it’s time for the tricks.

There are a few ways to “trick” your toddler into taking their medicine. It’s usually the taste that they don’t like, so you can opt to have their medicine flavored at the pharmacy. It doesn’t make it taste … great, but it does help take the edge off a bit.

Or, you can bypass the taste buds altogether. Instead of having your toddler suck the dropper or drink it from a cup, use the syringe to dispense the meds toward the back of their mouth or along the cheek. Slide the dropper along the cheek, and slowly push the plunger, taking care to keep the medicine off the tongue.

Bribes also work! Best piece of parenting advice in the world.

Before giving medicine to a toddler, have them suck on some ice or an ice pop to “freeze” their taste buds. The cold will numb their taste buds and tongue enough that they won’t be able to really taste the medicine. Plus, if you use a popsicle or ice pop as an incentive, you can get them to participate in the medicine taking without a fight.

It also might help to have a chaser for your kiddo, something they can down really quickly after taking their medicine. Milk works well to sort of neutralize the bitterness, but you might be able to bribe your kid to take the medicine with the promise of juice.

Giving medicine to a toddler isn’t any parent’s favorite thing to do. But the fight is worth them feeling and getting better, right? Now, if only they understood that logic. Until they do, trick them and bribe them.

(Image: iStock / CherylCasey)