Getting your kids to take their medicine, while important, can be difficult.
If your child is sick, he is likely already fussy and irritible, and is not usually going to be very cooperative with taking a cold medicine or fever reducer.
Or if your child has a chronic illness, like epilepsy, ADHD or asthma, the idea of taking daily medicines quickly gets old.
So how do you get your kids to take their medicine without a battle?
For infants and younger children, it can help to use a dropper or dosage syringe and squirt the medicine to the back of your child's mouth or inside their cheeks, so that they are less likely to taste it and spit it out.
You might also try using a pacifier medicine dispenser or medicine feeder to get your younger child to take their medicine.
It can also help to have a good attitude when approaching your child with their medicine. So have a smile on, be excited and in a happy voice say something like 'it's time to take your medicine.' Sometimes the tone you use really affects how younger children behave and approach something.
Choosing Good Tasting Medicines
For younger infants, taste isn't usually an issue and it seems to be more the idea of taking a medicine that is distasteful. But toddlers and older children often don't want to take medicines if they don't taste good, so the first step might be to choose good tasting medicines.
This might include choosing a flavor of cold medicine or a fever reducer that your child likes.
For antibiotics, parents quickly learn which ones taste better than others. The good ones usually include Amoxil (which is generic, so also inexpensive), Omnicef, Cefzil, Zithromax and Lorabid.
Antibiotics that don't taste as good include Ceftin, Vantin, Augmentin and Augmentin ES, Bactrim, and perhaps the worst tasting, Biaxin.
Unfortunately, you often don't have a choice of which antibiotic to take, especially if your child has already taken Amoxil and Omnicef recently or has a resistent infection. In those situations, it might help to get the medication flavored.
A popular product that is available in many pharmacies, FlavoRx, can help to make a medince taste better. Flavors range from apple and cherry to root bear and watermelon.
You can find FlavoRx in many drug stores that are inside grocery stores, such as at Albertsons, Tom Thumb, Kroger, etc., and they are also starting to appear in chain pharmacies, like Eckerds. You don't need a prescription for FlavoRx, just ask your pharmacist for it, unless you are trying to flavor an over the counter medicine.
Flavoring a medicine with FlavoRx usually only costs a few dollars, but it can help you save money if your child is able to take a less expensive, but bad tasting medicine instead of a newer medicine that tastes better, but is more expensive. For example, Prednisolone (Prelone), a steroid, is often used to treat children with asthma, croup and poison ivy, but tastes very bad. A newer medication, Orapred, is much better tasting, but is also more expensive because it isn't available as a generic, like Prelone is. So going with generic Prednisolone plus a FlavoRx flavoring will likely be cheaper than choosing Orapred.
Other Helpful Tips
In addition to choosing good tasting medicines, other things that you can do to improve compliance and make it more likely that your child will take their medicine might include:
- Ask for a higher concentration of medicine so that you can give less. For example, instead of one teaspoon of Vantin at the 50mg/5ml concentration, your child could take 1/2 teaspoon of the 100mg/5ml concentration and get the same dosage of medicine in a smaller dose.
- When possible, choose chewable or dissolvable medicines instead of syrups. Many cold medicines and fever reducers are now available as chewables, which many kids like.
- Give your child some control over taking his medicine, such as choosing which spoon to take it with, when he is going to take it (before or after he gets dressed or brushes his teeth), etc. For over the counter medicines, let your child choose the color or flavor of medicine that you buy.
- Offer a 'chaser' after he takes his medicine to cover up the taste.
- Use a reward chart to monitor how well your child takes his medicine and offer a treat if he goes so many days without fighting to take his medicine. FlavoRx offers a compliance chart that you could use for this purpose.
- Consider dipping a spoon in chocolate syrup and placing the dosage on the coated spoon (if your pediatrician or pharmacist approves). This way, your child's tongue and taste buds only 'taste' the chocolate syrup.
- Create a routine of when your child takes his medicine, especially if he is taking them long term for a chronic condition.
- Teach your kids to swallow pills. Although many kids don't learn to swallow pills until they are ten years old or older, any school age child might be able to learn if you practice.
- Help your child understand why he needs to take his medicine to feel better.
- Consider using a suppository if you really need to give your child medicine. For example, if your child has a high fever and feels miserable and won't take an oral fever reducer, you might try FeverAll, a suppository form of acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Avoid mixing your child's medicine with food or liquids unless you have been told that it is okay. Although it seems like a good idea, downsides of mixing medicine with food can include your child associating the medicine with food and becoming a picky eater, or not getting a full dose if he doesn't finish eating or drinking whatever you mixed the medicine with.