Influenza infections, gastrointestinal problems, or respiratory diseases such as coughs and colds can afflict children much more frequently than adults. As parents, you are suffering together with your offspring right now – and wish the little patient nothing more than a speedy recovery!
Administering drugs is often essential to the healing process. But giving medication to a sick child can quickly turn into a hopeless power struggle. It is not uncommon for the little ones to defend themselves loudly with their hands and feet against any form of administration of medicines.
Be it juice, suppository, or ointment – well-intentioned arguments will not get you very far, especially with children who are between two and four years of age. Not to mention argumentative and logical attempts to persuade about the necessity of taking medication.
What helps now?
With a little patience and sometimes a few tricks, you can make it easier for your offspring to take the medicine. Many medicines are better accepted by children if you follow a few guidelines when administering them:
If possible, your child should take medicine that has to be swallowed while sitting or standing up to avoid choking. Capsules and tablets can be taken with about 100 ml of liquid (water or tea is best). If swallowing with water doesn’t work, you can also offer a spoonful of applesauce or mashed potatoes.
In the case of liquid medicines, you can use a syringe (without a needle) or pipette for administration. This allows you to dose the medicine well and inject it directly behind the molars – this way you avoid the taste buds and the children find it easier to swallow.
If your little patient needs ear drops, it helps to lay your head on your lap and then carefully drip the ear drops into your ear. This way the drops run better into the ear canal.
Ear or nose drops are often felt to be uncomfortable if they are too cold. You can briefly warm the packaged drops in your hands or in lukewarm water before administering them.
It is best to give your child eye drops while lying down and with your eyes closed. Gently let the drops run into the inner corner of the eye and then pull down the lower lid. The drops are automatically distributed in the conjunctival sac when the child blinks. Be careful not to touch the eye with the dropper to avoid injury or discomfort. It is also important that the pipette does not come into contact with pathogens in order to keep them sterile for further use.
Suppositories glide better if they have been rinsed with a little water or briefly warmed in the hand. However, you should avoid lubricating the suppository with creams or oils, as this can impair the absorption of the active ingredient. During insertion, your child should lie on their back and bend their legs slightly – they will hardly notice the suppository.
In general: Be self-confident and assertive, because your child will notice immediately if you are unsure. Before you give the medicine, explain to your child why it is necessary to take it. However, do not try to force anything down your child’s throat.
Sometimes the prospect of a small reward after taking the medication is a good diversion. In addition, something sweet, such as a biscuit or a piece of chocolate, can quickly mask the bitter taste of the medicine. However, you should not advertise the medicine as candy to your child.
In many cases, it also helps to have someone who isn’t as close to the child as the parents give the medication. Grandma and grandpa or good friends will be happy to help take care of the little patients.
In principle, you should also observe the following when administering medication in a way that is appropriate for children:
Not every drug should be mixed with food or liquid, as too much food or drink can change the way the drug works. Milk or milk products (e.g. yogurt) inhibit the absorption and effect of certain medicines (e.g. antibiotics). You should also not give your child grapefruit juice in combination with medication, as this can either intensify or weaken the effect.
If you forget to give your medicine or your child has vomited after taking the medicine, you should talk to the pediatrician before giving the medicine again. Under no circumstances should you give your child a double dose next time to compensate, since an overdose can be dangerous for the inexperienced organism.
In the case of pediatric medicines, it is essential to note the expiry date on the packaging, as this often expires very quickly. Opened eye drops should never be used for longer than six weeks. Juices or drops can be kept for a maximum of six months after opening if they are stored in the refrigerator. Powder, which is stirred into juice when liquid is added, often only keeps for a few days.
Tablets or capsules should not be reduced in size or crumbled to be taken without consulting your pediatrician. Because the preparations are often covered with a special film that is supposed to protect the active ingredient from stomach acid or prevent the patient from tasting the bitter taste of the drug. How to properly divide tablets and capsules.
Children always react differently to infections and take medication. The cough syrup that was drunk without any objection during last bronchitis can, for example, lead to a “refusal to drink” the next time you cough. If your child refuses to take the medication completely, a visit to the pediatrician can often work wonders. Get advice on the safest way to give your child the medicine and whether you can mix it with food or drink.