If your child won't take his medicine, you do have options.

What Do You Do with a Child Who Refuses to Take Medicine?

by Julia Fuller

"Mommy!" You hear that unmistakeable cry and know that your child is sick again, and that usually means crying, tantrums, spitting out and gagging on medicine. You can't even get your kid to voluntarily take berry-flavored children's acetaminophen without getting the sticky liquid -- or even worse, vomit -- all over the place. So what exactly are you supposed to do when his fever is spiking and the pediatrician just prescribed an antibiotic?

Different Dispensers

Your child wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth and she doesn't want one now -- especially one filled with medicine. Sometimes just squirting the medicine in quickly towards the back of the throat with a medicine dropper catches the kiddies off guard. If not, look in the pharmacy for different medicine dispensers. If your child still uses a pacifier, use that to your advantage. Buy a pacifier that is also a calibrated medicine dispenser. Since the medicine is dispensed towards the back of the throat, the child hardly notices the flavor.

Flavors and Disguises

Most pharmacies offer flavor additives to tempt even the finickiest child. If your child cannot be tempted by flavor, then resort to disguise. Just check with your pharmacist first to make sure crushing or mixing the medicine won’t alter its effects. Add orange-flavored medicine to orange juice or grape-flavored medicine to grape juice. Mix liquid or crushed medicine into pudding, yogurt or applesauce. If you're using hot foods, make sure they have cooled before stirring in crushed or liquid antibiotic. Try mixing with creamy favorites such as mashed potatoes, squash or creamed corn.


Talk to your pediatrician about administering a shot while your little one is still in the treatment room. Get a single injection instead of an oral antibiotic if it the doctor says it will be just as effective. If your child puts up a fight, assure her that the pain lasts just a few seconds. A single shot is a great alternative to fighting, vomit and subterfuge twice a day for the next 10 days.

Pediatric Suppositories

You change dirty diapers and you can do this, too. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be purchased as pediatric suppositories. While they do not require a prescription, you do have to request them from the pharmacist because they are usually refrigerated. These are must-haves to have on hand for parents of young children who just cannot or will not take medication. When your child has a high fever or is keeping you awake all night with an ear infection, you do not want to make a midnight trip to the pharmacy.

About the Author

Julia Fuller began her professional writing career eight years ago covering special-needs adoption. She holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Marywood College, is co-owner of GJF Rental Properties as well as a livestock and grain crop farm. She worked for the United States Postal Service and a national income tax service.

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