HOW TO: Get a baby to take their medcine

We had an awful week last week.  Completely awful. It broke me, and it broke big dude too. Hence the reason this blog post is late.  There was a case of hand, foot and mouth, followed with impetigo, and the beginnings of a chest infection.  Not forgetting the normal teething drama.

4 sleepless nights in a row as little dude woke up screaming and wouldn’t settle for hours on end, his little body head to toe covered in some horrendous rash, coughing up his guts each time he wanted to breathe, crying every five minutes, and just not right in himself. It was heartbreaking seeing him like that.  All we could do was take each hour at a time to get through it.  Not fun… not fun at all and exactly what you want on the run up to your child’s first Christmas.

Little dude was very generous and passed all this disease (sans teething obvo) to me. So not only did I have to deal with an ill child, I had to deal with an ill me looking after an ill child, and big dude had to deal with both of us invalids while on his “holiday” off work.

I am pleased though to report we are definitely coming out of it, and are on the up (even if I do look like something out a horror movie at the moment).

Looking back on it, the thing that broke me that week wasn’t seeing him ill, or the sleepless nights, it was giving him his medicine. He would have none of it. Every time we tried to put it into his mouth, he would turn away.  We had to hold him tight and put it into his mouth.  When we finally got it into his mouth he was blowing raspberries to spit it back out. Little dude would scream like we were torturing him, or vomit like he was drowning.  It was awful and I cried every time.

So I’ve listed all the tips I’ve collated from the interweb, friends, family and world and his wife to help anyone else in the same position.

How to adminster

  • Put it in their food / milk
    • By far the easiest.  Put it in yoghurt to mask the taste.  Double check with your doc/pharmacist if it’s ok to do before though.
  • Sneak it in
    • While little dude was boobfeeding, I snuck some into his mouth with a syringe.  He would then latch off and then I put a little more on my boob for him to get while he latched back on.
  • Use a syringe
    • Lifesaver – Couldn’t get little dude to take a spoon at all.  Syringe is where it’s at.
  • A little at a time
    • Do not feel like you have to whole dose in one big swoop.  A little at a time works best.  At one point we were doing a drop at a time.  Took ages, but got the job done.
  • Corner of the mouth
    • We had more success aiming the syringe into the corner of his mouth and towards the cheek, then going straight in.  Less damage all around.

Get them to swallow

  • Blow in their face
    • I read somewhere that this triggers the swallow reflex in babies.  It kinda worked for us.
  • Rub their Adam’s apple
    • Our children’s nurse told us this when we were trying to administer calpol to little dude.

Distraction techniques

  • Make them look up
    • Making them look up usually distracts them and while they’re looking up they usually open their mouth.  Perfect for getting medication in.
  • The Gruffalo
    • Good old TV.  I think I’ve watched the Gruffalo about 200 times (ok slight exaggeration) this week to get little dude to take the medicine, but I tell you what it works a charm.  He’s so distracted by the music and the images that he just takes the medicine.

Go back to the doctors

If all else fails, go back to the doctors.  Little dude was having none of it, so we ended up going back to the docs, getting the medication changed and he ended up taking that one no problem. Sometimes the taste matters.

Last thoughts

What worked for us in the end was changing the medication and at first sneaking it into him a little at a time using a syringe while I was boobfeeding.  As he got accustomed to the medication, I would stick on the Gruffalo and syringe it into his mouth little by little.  Minimal fussing, and a happy well baby at the end!  

Have you got any tips on how you get your little one to take their meds?


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