Illness and infections are an integral part of the parcel of baby and toddler-dom. Being given the prescription is easy enough, but getting the medicine into your child via ears, nose, throat or bottom…is another ball game entirely!
At some point we have all had to resort to restraining our screaming children in order to force medication in to them. It is dreadfully upsetting and stressful for all. The tips and tactics below aim to both empower your child to take their medicine as well as to distract them from the seriousness of the situation.
1. Teddy First
Select a few of your toddler’s favorite dolls, cuddly toys and line them up so that they will have their turn to receive the medicine first.
Say what you would say to your child: ‘OK, medicine time!’
Make the toy refuse the medicine ‘No-no Mummy, boo hoo hoo.’
Comfort the toy as you give it the medicine ‘There, good teddy! Swallow all of it!’
Hopefully your child will begin to join in the ‘comforting’ part as you go round the group. Towards the end of the line it is your child’s turn. Don’t make a big deal about it. Give it to them and then quickly turn your attention back to the toys still awaiting their turn.
In fact as your child is swallowing, you can distract them by drawing their attention to a teddy who might be in the process of running away… you can sternly return them to the group and then administer their medication.
2. Grown-up Stuff
Pretend to give mummy and daddy some medicine first. Make sure your child is watching and is aware of what’s going on. Be casual. Use the usual tones you usually use with your partner rather than acting out ‘Hmmm, yummy, here…try some!’ Children are too smart to fall for this.
Pretend to take the medicine and then your partner must also ask their dose. If possible, use older siblings in the role play too. When your little one starts showing interest as doses are ‘delivered’ around the family, insist that they wait for their turn, it will hopefully make them want it even more.
3. “All by myself”
For the fiercely independent toddler, allowing them to “do it all by themselves” may be the key to getting them to take their medication. The really little ones may be satisfied by holding the full syringe in their own hands and putting it in their own mouths themselves. Let them suck for a couple of seconds then discreetly push the fluid in. As they swallow, try and distract them with something: a toy, their dinner/lunch, a scene from the DVD they are watching – anything to stop them from focusing too much on the taste.
4. Play Equipment
Whenever it is safe, wash and keep the old plastic bottles of certain items such as eye and nose drops and medication syringes. They can feature in future supervised role plays in between bouts of illness by helping to keep the medication and its equipment familiar and non-threatening.
5. Just a spoonful of Sugar!
Treats may help your child’s medicine ‘go down in the most delightful way…’
A treat needn’t be unhealthy. It may be a homemade low sugar ice lolly to numb the tastebuds after yucky tasting medicine; it may be a small biscuit or soft fresh date. Anything your child likes. For older toddlers or preschoolers, it may be empowering to let them choose their treat before they have their medicine and let them line it up on the table ready to quickly pop into their mouths.
Good luck and please leave a comment to let me know how you go and do share your own medicine-giving tips!
NB. Always keep medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements and any dangerous medical equipment out of the reach of children.