How to give medication to your child

Estimated Reading Time 3 Minutes

Most children prefer liquids off a spoon. Taste the medication yourself, first. Many medications, like penicillin, have an unpleasant aftertaste. Have something tasty on hand that the child likes and can pop in their mouth immediately afterwards.

You can mix the medication with a drink, like chocolate milk or lemonade, but don’t use much liquid in case the child doesn’t drink it all.

The easiest way to swallow a pill is to put it behind the bottom front teeth and then drink something quickly. The pill usually gets washed down with the first one or two swallows.

Ear drops

If the drops are oily, stand the bottle in warm water for a few minutes. This will make the drops flow more easily.

  • Lay your child on one side with the infected ear up.
  • Put the correct dosage in the dropper.
  • Pull the ear lobe towards the back of the head until you can see directly into the ear canal.
  • Put the end of the dropper in the opening and squeeze the bulb.
  • Keep your child on the side for 5 minutes. A plug of cotton will stop excess drops from trickling down the cheek.

Eye drops

Don’t actually drop them into the eye – this is uncomfortable and will upset your child. Let a drop of the medication hang down from the dropper, have the child look towards one side, and place the drop on the white of the eye in the outside corner. It will flow in easily.

Alternately, children can close their eyes and then the drops are placed on the inside corner of the eye. When the eyes are opened, the drops will flow in painlessly.

Eye ointments

Squeeze out a strip of ointment about 1 centimetre long and let it hang down from the tube. Then pull the lower lid down and lay the strand of ointment along the inside (the red part of the lower lid). Have your child open and close the eye a few times to spread the medication.

Nose drops

Have the child lie down with the head back. Measure the right amount of nasal solution in the dropper. Place the dropper inside the nostril and gently squeeze the bulb. Try not to touch the lining of the nose or the child will jump or sneeze. Have the child sniff hard a couple of times before sitting up again.

For infants: Administer eye or nose drops when they are busy sucking or feeding.

Steamers and humidifiers

Increased humidity is helpful in relieving any type of irritation of the nose or throat. The moisture is soothing and helps to keep mucous loosened up so that it is more easily coughed up. There are both hot steamers and cold humidifiers available.

Anything that creates steam can be used to provide extra humidity. A kettle is fine, but they boil dry rather quickly and there is the risk of a burn.

Steamers are more efficient, but don’t let your child get too close to the hot steam. Steamers raise the temperature around the child, which is a disadvantage if the child is running a fever and you are trying to lower it.

Cold vaporizers are safer but germs can grow in water that has been left standing in the equipment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to sterilize it. While cold humidifiers don’t make the child hot, they can make the child cold unless you turn up the heat in the room.

If your child has a barking, croupy ‘cough’ and seems to have difficulty breathing in, fill your shower stall or bathroom with steam by running the hot tap. Keep the child in the steam for 10 to 15 minutes. If this does not result in obvious improvement, call your doctor.

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