Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Medication - Giving Liquid Medicine to Cooperative Child


  • Techniques for giving liquid medicines to a child who cooperates

Call or Return If

  • Your child can't take the medicine after trying these good techniques
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Wrong Technique For Giving Medicine Can Cause Vomiting

  • Forcing a struggling child to take any medicine is a bad idea. It can lead to vomiting or choking.
  • It will also make giving a medicine the next time harder.
  • Learning good techniques for giving medicines is worth the effort.

Over-The Counter (OTC) Medicines

  • OTC medicines are those that do not need a prescription. Most OTC medicines are not needed for symptom treatment.
  • Medicines that are not essential are most OTC cough and cold medicines. Fever medicines are also not required for most fevers.
  • Never try to force your child to take a medicine that is not needed.
  • Most often, symptoms can be helped with other types of treatment.

Fever Medicines

  • Fevers over 102° F (39° C) that cause discomfort can be treated with acetaminophen suppositories. The rectal dose is the same as the dose given by mouth.
  • Other options. If your child spits out or refuses ibuprofen, try oral acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can also try a different flavor or brand of the medicine. Other flavors or brands may taste better. If your child is old enough, you might also try chewable tablets. They may taste better than the liquid.
  • For ALL fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
  • For babies, dress lightly. Don't wrap in too many blankets. Reason: Can make the fever higher.

After Care Advice

  • It's important to have a good technique for giving medicines.
  • You want it to be positive for your child.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Sweeteners For Medicines That Taste Bad:
  • Most liquid medicines have a good flavor or a flavor your child will accept.
  • If your child complains about the taste, your job is to mask it.
  • Mix the dose of medicine with a strong-sweet flavor. You can try chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, or any pancake syrup. You can also use Kool-Aid powder.
  • Medicines can safely be mixed with any flavor your child likes.
  • Also, have a glass of your child's favorite drink ready to rinse the mouth.
  • Tip: Coating the taste buds with the sweetener first may also hide the taste.
Good Technique for Giving Liquid Medicine:
  • You will need a plastic medicine syringe or dropper. Reason: To prevent spilling the medicine. Do not use a spoon.
  • Sit your child up. Never try to give your child anything while lying down.
  • Place the syringe past the teeth or gumline. Some young children will settle down if you let them hold the syringe. Have them place it in their own mouth. Then all you have to do is push the plunger.
  • Goal: Slowly drip or pour the medicine onto the back of the tongue. You can also aim for the pouch inside the cheek.
  • Do not squirt anything into the back of the throat. Reason: Can enter windpipe and cause choking.
Liquid Medicines - How to Measure the Correct Dose:
  • Use the dosing syringe or dropper that comes with the medicine. This device gives the most accurate dosing.
  • If you don't have a med syringe, buy one at a pharmacy.
  • Dosing with a syringe is more accurate than a measuring cup or teaspoon.
  • Don't use household spoons for dosing. Reason: They vary in the amount they hold and that could cause poisoning. They also often cause spillage.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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