Medicine Tips: Makin’ it Easier for the Littles

ask-Dr.Mom-taking-medicine-childrens-healthWhen kiddos get sick it can be hardest on us moms. You just wish you could suck that awful fever (or earache or sore throat or nasty rash) right out of them. Well, there’s not much chance of waving a magic wand, but there are some tricks of the trade that make giving those meds easier. A mama’s gotta do what a mama’s gotta do.

Use the back door. Acetaminophen for fever is available in suppository form. The brand name is Feverall and the dosage is listed in the instructions by weight. This might not seem easier to you, but many kiddos under 3 or 4 most definitely prefer it to the oral route.

For pacifier babies, try the kind with an attached dispenser that allows kiddo to self-soothe while getting the dose down. Just make sure they’re getting the full dose, which is marked right on it.

Eye drop magic. As soon as your little guy can follow instructions, have him lie down with eyes closed. Gently drip the required drops in the inner corner (next to his nose) and have him open his eyes while still lying down. For a full explanation, check out our past post.

Take aim.  Tastebuds are concentrated on the front and center of the tongue, so if you can bypass these you’re way ahead of the game. Use a small syringe and aim it towards the back of the mouth between the cheek and gum. Avoid the middle, where you’re likely to stimulate the gag reflex. Blow a gentle puff of air into her face immediately after, and she’ll swallow it (another reflex).

Make it a contest. For school-age kiddos, fill a syringe with medicine for them and let them choose something yucky to put in a syringe for you. Then see who can get it down faster. If you’re sneaky you can avoid finishing your ‘dose’ (of mustard or pickle juice or whatever), and they’ll be so proud of their win they won’t even notice. Optional: a prize for the champ.

Choose your poison. Many pharmacies now have a product called FLAVORx that’s designed to mask the flavor of children’s liquids and replace it with the taste of anything from bubblegum to root beer. As your pharmacist about it and let kiddo do the choosing.

Be the guinea pig. Sometimes all it takes is for Mom to take a sip, do an Academy Award worthy job of faking the yum, and junior will follow. Try it.

Chase it. Instead of mixing the bad tasting stuff with juice, pudding or applesauce (assuming you’ve already tried this old standby), try chasing it with a slug of straight chocolate syrup. Most kiddos can’t resist, and once you convince them you mean it they’re game.

Less is more.  Ask your pediatrician if there’s an effective medicine with a shorter course. Sometimes antibiotics with a 3x-a-day-for-10-days course can be replaced with one that’s given once a day for 5 days. If you don’t ask you won’t know.

Give it a makeover. Looks are everything — sometimes. Brighten up that chalky pale liquid with some sassy food coloring and it might just do the trick.

Teach kiddo to swallow a pill. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes this is the simplest solution of all. You can practice with tiny Tic Tacs or other breath mints (BEWARE OF CHOKING RISK under age 4), and some will catch on very quickly. Problem solved.

 

 

 

 

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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