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Getting kids to take their medicine can be one of the most fierce battles parents experience. While some children take their medicine without any fuss, others kick and scream and act like you’re trying to remove an appendage. The following tips and advice will help you manage even the fussiest kids and get them to take their medicine.

How to get kids to take liquid medicine

  • Give from a syringe rather than a spoon whenever possible. It can limit the bad taste (it shoots the medicine to the back of the mouth and therefore bypasses many taste areas) and is easier to give to an uncooperative child.

  • When giving from a syringe, position it to the side of your child’s mouth and aim for the back teeth. This way he won’t gag on the syringe and it makes it more difficult to spit out.

  • When filling a prescription, ask the pharmacist if they are able to add any flavoring to the medicine.

  • When you fill a prescription, try to get the smallest volume per dose possible. For example, if a 250 mg dose could be delivered at a concentration of 1 teaspoon rather than 2, which usually makes it easier to give to a child. The extra bitterness is less torture than the extra volume.

  • Offer your child a chaser afterwards to flush it down. Something like strong Kool-Aid or chocolate syrup can work.

Getting kids to swallow pills

  • Have your child hold a sip of water in her mouth while leaning back slightly. Have her open up, then place the pill in her mouth to the side. Now instruct her to close her mouth, straighten her head, and swallow. It should help it go down a little smoother.

  • Place the pill within a spoonful of applesauce. It will reduce the gag reflex.

  • Consider crushing pills and mixing them with a small amount of pudding or cake frosting. Just be sure a child licks up every last bit to ensure the full dose.

  • Opt for chewable whenever possible.

How to give a child eye drops

Most parents force a child’s eyes open, but this only adds to their anxiety. Instead, have your child close her eyes and either lie down on a bed or couch (preferred) or tilt her head back. Apply the prescribed number of drops to the inner corner of her eye and say “All done” while keeping your child in their current position. When she opens her eyes, the drops will roll right in. Then you can have a child blink a bunch of times if needed.

Other tips for getting kids to take their medicine:

  • Don’t negotiate with kids. Make it clear that taking their medicine is non-negotiable, and they can either cooperate or do it kicking and screaming. But the latter approach only makes it that much more painful.

  • If you have a particularly fussy child, compounding pharmacies specialize in creating medicines from scratch, and can even make medicine into lollipops or gummy bears. Since they specialize in special requests, they can also mix medicine into a variety of flavors for kids. Contact for stores in your area.

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