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10 Clever Tips to Get Toddlers to Take Their Medicine

by Vannessa Rhoades 31 May 2023
10 Clever Tips to Get Toddlers to Take Their Medicine

Toddlers can be a challenge when it comes to taking medicine. They may resist taking it due to the taste or texture, or simply because they don't understand why they need it. As a parent or caregiver, it can be frustrating getting toddlers to take medicine. However, there are several strategies you can use to make the process easier and less stressful for both you and your child. Let’s examine some helpful ways to get toddlers to take medicine.

1. Explain why the medicine is important

Toddlers may not understand why they need to take medicine, so it's important to explain it to them in a way they can understand. Keep it simple and use language they can grasp. For example, you could say "This medicine will help your tummy feel better" or "This medicine will make your cough go away." This is especially important for medicine that has to be taken long-term. Explaining why it’s important can give your child a better understanding and a greater sense of control over their circumstances.

2. Set a good example.

Children tend to imitate their parents when it comes to the ways in which they speak and behave – and taking medication is no exception. Demonstrating how to swallow a pill and stressing to them that it isn’t difficult to do will comfort your child. It’s essential to have a cheerful, optimistic attitude when doing this. When your child is ready, place the pill around your child’s teeth or toward the back of their tongue. Adjust their chin so that their head is tilted back. Then tell them to imagine the pill is just a piece of food and to swallow it.

3. Use a syringe or dropper

For toddlers who can't swallow pills, using a syringe or dropper to administer liquid medicine can be a great option. This method allows you to control the amount of medicine your child takes and can also help prevent choking or gagging. You can mix the liquid medicine with juice or another drink to mask the taste.

The FridaBaby MediFrida Accu-Dose Pacifier and Medicine Dispenser deliver the full dose through a soft, familiar paci that sends medicine to the side of the cheek, as recommended by doctors, bypassing baby's taste buds to prevent spit-ups so the baby swallows the full dose. MediFrida is the only paci-style baby medicine dispenser that doubles as a real pacifier, so dosing doesn't disrupt the baby's busy soothing schedule.


4. Make it fun

Toddlers love to play, so why not make taking medicine a game? You could pretend the syringe or dropper is a spaceship or a magic wand, or make a game out of swallowing the medicine. For example, you could have your child take a big gulp of water after each dose and see who can swallow the fastest.

5. Offer a reward

Offering a small reward can be a great motivator for toddlers. It doesn't have to be anything big – a sticker or a piece of candy can be enough to make taking medicine more appealing. Make it clear that the reward is only for taking the medicine and not for anything else.

6. Let them choose the flavor

Many liquid medicines come in different flavors, so let your toddler choose which one they want. This can give them a sense of control and make them more likely to take the medicine. You could even let them taste a few different flavors before deciding which one they like best.

7. Try a popsicle

One of our favorite tricks to get toddlers to take medicine from the Cleveland Clinic is to give them a popsicle before trying the medicine. This puts a yummy flavor in their mouth first, and the cold helps numb their tongue. Once the tongue is cold, it’s more difficult to detect flavors. Out of popsicles? Put a spoon in the freezer for a few minutes. Place it on your child’s tongue, then remove it, and give your child the medicine.

8. Use a pill crusher

If your toddler needs to take a pill, but has trouble swallowing it, you could try using a pill crusher to crush it into a powder. Mix the powder with a small amount of food, such as applesauce or yogurt, to make it easier to swallow. Check with the pharmacist first to make sure crushing the pills and mixing them in food is safe and doesn’t interfere with the efficacy of the medication. 

9. Distract them

Sometimes, the best way to get a toddler to take medicine is to distract them. You could read them a book or sing a song while giving them the medicine, or have them watch their favorite TV show. Just make sure they swallow the medicine before getting too engrossed in the distraction.

10. Be calm and patient

Finally, it's important to be calm and patient when trying to get your toddler to take medicine. If you get frustrated or angry, it will only make the process more difficult. Take deep breaths and try to stay positive, even if your child resists.

The Takeaway

Figuring out how to get toddlers to take medicine can be a challenge, but there are many strategies you can use to make it easier. Explaining why the medicine is important, using a syringe or dropper, making it fun, offering a reward, letting them choose the flavor, using a pill crusher, distracting them, and being calm and patient can all help make the process less stressful for both you and your child. With a little creativity and patience, you can help your toddler get the medication they need to feel better.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions or concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your healthcare provider.

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