I have 6 children, all adults now – 20-34, so I’ve given my share of medicines to kids. Factor in my son having leukemia, and being on treatments for 3 years and 3 months, with a LOT of oral medicines, I’ve gone over the top on the medicine giving experience chart. Sad, but true.
Here are a few tips that I’ve used to get the meds into the kids.
Getting Kids to Take Medicine
Disguise the taste – Most medicines don’t taste very good, and kids are experts at not allowing terrible tasting stuff into their mouths. If you can crush the pill (check with the pharmacy) grape juice concentrate will hide the taste of just about any meds. Use the concentrate straight, not diluted into juice. Mix it on a spoon with the crushed pill. Most kids like grape, and will take this. A small amount of applesauce mixed with the crushed pill will work for some kids. Just remember to keep the amount of grape juice concentrate and applesauce small to make sure the kids get all the medicine.
If they can swallow the pills, or are taking a liquid medicine that tastes bad, a chaser of soda works well to get the taste out of their mouths. My son liked root beer after his medicine. Since we don’t normally drink soda, the kids think this is also a treat. I only give them a very small amount, I use the liquid medicine measuring cups to put the soda in. If soda is not your favorite thing to use, or your kids drink soda regularly, you can try whatever drink they like but don’t get often. Be careful, though, a lot of medicines can’t be taken with dairy, so no chocolate milk.
Practice swallowing pills – If your kids can’t swallow pills very well, you can use mini M & M’s to practice with. If the pills they have to take are bigger, try having them swallow regular M & M’s, or half of one. Of course, reward them for practicing. After they swallow the amount you set, give them a few to eat.
Ready, Set, Go! – Some kids just need lots of encouragement. Maybe a “Ready, Set, Go!” will mentally prepare them to take their medicine. With my youngest I used to count backwards, “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!!” And then he swallowed it.
Reward them – I use a sticker chart to track their progress. A simple piece of paper with their name on it, hung on the fridge works. A sticker for every time they take a medicine. You can decide how often to reward them, and what the reward will be. A young child might need a daily reward, while an older child can be rewarded weekly, or at the end of a 10 day course of medicine.
A daily reward could be a board game with you, or a movie/tv show, or video game play. Preferably something they don’t do all day. Or it could be a little prize that you’ve purchased ahead from the dollar store. My son always liked getting a new Hot Wheels car after taking his medicine for a week.
Keeping track of kids medicines can be hard, especially if you have more than one kid taking meds. I’ve been using a chart like the one below for about 10 years. It really is a time and sanity saver to use a medicine chart. Do we really need to torture ourselves by standing at the kitchen counter looking at all the medicine bottles trying to remember who got what when? Been there, done that, and prefer to never do it again!
Here’s the chart that I use. You can print it right from this page if you want.
And here’s how I use it:
I write the name of the child across the top, and the names of the medicines at the top of the columns.
Day 1 you can see I took my temperature, my antibiotic & some Tylenol at 8. You can see what I did at 12, 4 & 8 by following the lines across. At 2, I took only the antibiotic. You can also look at the medicine at the top of the column, and follow it down to see how many times, and when it was taken on that day. That makes it easy to make sure your getting the correct doses in, while also making sure your not exceeding doses of fever reducers.
No more guessing when I gave what medicine, or trying to remember what the last temperature was. This is especially helpful if you have more than one adult giving the medicine.
This is all helpful information on getting your kids to take their medicine. but, really, I hope you never have to use any of it!