Help your child feel relaxed so she doesn't instinctively spit.

How to Keep a Child From Spitting Out Medicine

by Kay Ireland

It was Mary Poppins who cheerily sang that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." But wait a minute there, Mary. Not only do you not want to give a small child a "spoonful of sugar," but sometimes, rogue medicine-spitters make just about any dosage nearly impossible. Forget the Poppins Method and try a few other tricks that can help your little one get the medicine she needs to get better.

Sit your child down. It might seem easier to give your little one medicine while she's lying down, but that could be dangerous, due to the choking hazard it poses. If your wiggly tot won't sit still, recline her into the crook of your arm in a seated position, resting on your lap for reassurance.

Fill a medical-grade dosing syringe with the prescribed amount of medication. Syringes are the easiest way to give medicine to your spitting child, since you can direct where the medicine goes. When using a syringe, make sure you depress the plunger slowly -- shooting the meds into your little one's mouth can engage the gag reflex, and then it's Spit City for you.

Reach your arm around your child's head and gently hook the side of her mouth open with your pointer finger if she still resists. Aim the syringe at the spot between her cheek and gums, near the back of the mouth. This spot is the least sensitive to tastes and textures, so the meds aren't as unpleasant, and if you keep your finger in place until she swallows, she won't be able to spit the medicine back out.

Mix the medicine with a semi-liquid, low-acid food or drink only if you have your doctor or pharmacist's permission to do so. While it's usually fine to offer medicine in applesauce, fruit syrup or yogurt, some types of medicine should not be diluted with food or drink. Always check before you mix. If you are advised against mixing medicine, have a favorite drink at the ready; offering a sip after dosing might be enough to banish the bad taste left behind from bitter meds.

Ask your child's doctor about switching to a different type of medicine if the dosage battles continue. Children who have issues with liquid might be more than happy taking a chewable tablet or pill, and vice versa. As a parent, you may need to speak up for your little one to find something that works to help your child feel better and less likely to spit out and render the medication ineffective.

Items you will need

  • Dosing syringe


  • If you're absolutely sure that your little one has spat out all of the meds, wait 10 minutes and repeat the dosage. However, if your child swallowed some of the medication, contact your doctor's office on how to proceed. If you have meds left in the syringe, you can usually finish off the dose, but if you're unsure of how much medication has been ingested, you may be asked to observe your child and then repeat the dosage at the next available time.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

Photo Credits

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