Like all children, both my daughters, used to fall ill quite often. The older one especially was chronically prone to throat infections and respiratory problems. So there was no way of avoiding drugs or trying home remedies.
If tending to a sick child can be an ordeal, getting them to take their medicines can be equally challenging, especially if the child is resistant and un-cooperative. Thankfully for me, barring a few instances, I don’t remember having any major issues in giving them their medicines. But that doesn’t mean they enjoyed gulping them down either! I had to resort to tricks when I faced stiff resistance on a few occasions. Here’s how I tackled it.
First things first. Never force-feed. If you do, be prepared to have it come out flying right on to your favourite tee. There are gentler ways to get the medicine down … and believe me these can work far more effectively than thrusting it into the baby’s mouth.
Dropper or syringe: Medications for infants mostly come in liquid form. I found the dropper that came along with the medicine to be really useful. After measuring the required quantity, it’s easy to quickly squeeze the medicine from the side of the mouth. You could also try distracting the baby with a soft song. I normally laid the baby flat on her back on my outstretched legs, and kept talking to her.
Some of my friends also suggest using a syringe. You could dip the syringe in sugar, so that the baby tastes the sugar first. When she sucks the medicine, it may not be all that bitter. Do remember not to squirt it all at once, as it may gag her. You can give some water or milk to wash down the medicine.
Nowadays, liquid medicines come in a variety of flavours. You could check with your pharmacist and choose the flavor you think your baby might like.
Some medicines also come as strips which melt away instantly when you place them on the baby’s tongue. But I am not sure, its available in India.
Tactics for tablets: As the babies grew older, the doc started prescribing dispersible tables. One thing for sure, these were less messy than the liquid medicines. But again, it was no easy task. What worked best for me was mixing honey in the pills. It masked the bitter taste of the medicine and went down smoothly. If your child is not too fond of honey, you could try mixing it with fruit juice or chocolate syrup.
The most important thing to remember here is to mix a very small quantity so that it’s all over in a quaff. If you mix more of the solution, it may take more than one gulp. Which means, after the first tasting, it may be a struggle giving the rest of the medicine.
I’ve read elsewhere that giving your child something cold to eat before administering the medicine numbs the taste buds, so the baby won’t be able to taste the bitter in the medicine. Though I have not personally tried this method, it could be worth a try.
Any new technique we discover, may not work for long. Kids these days are very smart and have a way of sensing things in advance. So as parents we must outsmart them and constantly keep employing new strategies.