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Ask Dr. Sears: Help Medicine Go Down

Q. My 18-month-old always spits out her medication. What can I do?

A. This takes a bit of parental ingenuity! Some tricks to woo a reluctant medicine taker:

  • Ask your doctor to prescribe a form (syrup versus chewable pills) and flavor that you know will have a fighting chance of getting past your child's taste buds. Keep track of which she likes best.

  • Feed her "magic paste." If the medication comes in a chewable-tablet form, crush it in a bowl and add a drop of water to make a thick paste. Then spread a little on a piece of bread or a cracker.

  • Chase liquid medication with a beverage she likes, or try stirring it into a container of chocolate pudding or applesauce. You can also try the camouflage technique  -- bury a chewable pill in your child's favorite sandwich or wrap it in some cheese.

  • Here's a trick I discovered for my son Stephen when he was little: I call it the "cheek pocket" technique. While cradling your child's head in the crook of your arm, insert a finger into her mouth and pull out the corner, which makes a pocket in her cheek. With the other hand, squirt a few drops of medicine into this pocket. This way, the medicine bypasses the most sensitive part of the tongue and drips down the side of the mouth and tongue, where there are fewer taste buds. Hold your child in this position until all the medication has gone down.

    Taking medicine may never be fun, but you can make it a more pleasant experience  -- for both of you.

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