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How to Get Toddler to Take Medicine


How to Get Toddler to Take Medicine

When you’ve got that medicine in your hand, sometimes it seems more like toddler repellent. You might be understandably nervous or even angry if they refuse to take it. First things first. It’s time for you to take a deep breath, count to ten, and let your toddler settle down a bit. After the situation is a little more muted, you can apply some of the following helpful tips.

  1. Create a calming environment for medicine time: Where you give your toddler medicine can help you get toddler to take medicine. Pick the room of your residence that your child feels the most comfortable in. You don’t always have to give out medicine in the kitchen or room where your medicine cabinet is.
  2. Give your child a comforting toy or blanket: Some children carry blankets around like a lifeline. Others are more prone to have favorite toys. Make medicine time a more soothing adventure by handing your child their security blanket or even favorite toy before medicine time.
  3. Flavoring your child’s medicine can be particularly helpful. Most of the time it’s the icky taste that makes it difficult to get toddler to take medicine. Pharmacies are enormously helpful to parents who struggle with how to get toddler to take medicine. They keep flavoring on hand in the form of grape, orange, cherry, or whatever else you suspect might be something your child will like.
  4. Stay clam. Your child will be able to see your anger or frustration and it may make them even more uneasy. Remember, it’s not their fault they got sick, just like it’s not your fault that they won’t take their medicine. This is a natural struggle between toddlers and parents, and sometimes it’s just about the way the medicine tastes, while other times it’s about how the child just simply doesn’t feel like doing this right now. They’re already sick. This can exacerbate the problem even more. Your calmness will go a long way in letting them know everything is okay.
  5. Sometimes you’ll be able to add the medicine to regular food. This is sometimes the best way to get toddler to take medicine. If they have a favorite food that you can easily mix the medicine into, they may not even know they’re taking medicine. Some parents may feel sneaky or bad about doing this, but don’t! Your child is sick and needs to get well. Any way you can get toddler to take medicine is for their good and yours.
  6. Chewable medicines may be the answer to your prayers. Sometimes liquid medicines can be particular untasty to toddlers, so it’s vital that you choose a form of medication that your child can safely and comfortably take. If a medication comes in a chewable form, this form may be something that your child is more likely to take. Liquids tend to have a lot of volume to them, especially cough syrups, so chewing a tiny tablet may be something your toddler is more apt to go for.
  7. Experimentation goes a long way. You know your child best! There may be other comforting words or objects that can help them take their medication comfortably. Use your creativity.

Toddlers are notorious for their power struggles with parents. Any parent of a child freshly reaching toddlerhood will tell you that suddenly your sometimes-cooperative infant turns into something else altogether. Your baby reaches the toddler stage when they’re between one and two years old. The universally frightening term “terrible twos” is a well known stereotype that sometimes scares parents into thinking that when their children reach that stage, life is going to become exceedingly difficult. And sometimes it does. Getting a one or two year old to do just about anything you ask is sometimes going to be difficult. There are a few reasons for this.

When a child reaches a year old, they are going through a staggering amount of developmental changes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mark periods in a toddler’s life that they call developmental milestones, and these milestones give you a fascinating look into the development of your toddler. There are two separate toddler stages documented by the CDC, the first between 1-2 years and the second between 2-3 years. During the toddler stage, your child is going to:

  • Take their first steps
  • Say their first words
  • Learn to follow instructions
  • Spot themselves in the mirror for the first time
  • Begin to challenge your instructions for the first time

This newfound self-awareness and independence is going to be the reason for the power struggles between you and your toddler. Because a toddler can recognize things they don’t like to do now, they’re going to sometimes disobey your orders. Power struggles are especially common when it comes to taking yicky tasting medicine for the first time.

Toddler Power Struggles 101

You’ve been on earth for a long time, and you have your own particular set of likes and dislikes. Your toddler has those same likes and dislikes. Some medicines that your doctor gives you to give to your child are going to obviously be in liquid form, and they’re also going to taste pretty terrible to your toddler. Why a toddler refuses medicine is really simple: It tastes bad! What a toddler doesn’t have the capacity to understand is that they are sick and need to take this medicine regardless of how it tastes. This is something you probably won’t be able to convince your toddler of. They’ll simply want to say, “No way!”

It’s a power struggle that has gone on since the dawn of modern medicine. If a medicine tastes bad, that little bundle of joy of yours can turn into an infernal terror pretty quickly. Toddlers may turn their head away when you try to give them the medicine. They may cry. Some toddlers may even try to grab the medicine and throw it (let’s hope you’re not in this category of frustrated parent). And while all of this is pretty common behavior for a toddler, it’s going to be a nightmare for you, the well-meaning parent who just wants to make your child better again.

Thankfully, you’ve got a few things working on your side in this situation, the first of which is your toddler’s newfound revelation of language. They can understand some of what you’re saying (not all, especially if it’s a younger toddler). Even if they don’t understand every word you’re saying, using a soothing tone with them is going to help diffuse the situation a bit. Parents have struggled with this particular situation for a long time, so there are plenty of great tips lingering in the air about how to get toddler to take medicine.

You Can Win This Struggle!

Freshly formed toddlers generally struggle more with this issue than other toddlers. Over time you’ll develop a good medicine routine with your little one. Things will calm down and it’ll become easier to get toddler to take medicine. Every toddler is a different person, and they’re all going to respond to different strategies. Don’t be afraid to come up with some creative strategies on your own, too. Parents become incredibly creative and effective when their child’s health is on the line. You’re certain to find other methods or tweaks to these particular methods that get toddler to take medicine even better than the above ways.

For those parents who are exhausted and who just can’t ever get medicine time right, seeking the advice of a pediatrician is always a good idea. Pediatricians deal with so many toddlers over the course of their career that they’re certain to have experienced this problem before. Since medicine is the result of a pediatrician visit in the first place, this is a convenient time to address the issue with your doctor. If you’re a parent about to try to get toddler to take medicine for the first time, you may be understandably nervous. Your pediatrician can give you great tips on how to make this possible and may even be able to recommend additional help on this issue.


Of all the issues that you’ll face with a toddler, how to get toddler to take medicine will be among the most important. You may feel guilty for tricking your child – if that’s the route you go – but remember that it’s their health that is at stake, and their health comes before anything else. When they’re older it may even be a favorite memory you share with them. Those tug of war sessions while you try to get toddler to take medicine may be a family store passed down through a lifetime relationship between you and your finicky little one. And they’ll be there down the line to share those memories with you because you were caring and loving enough to find ways to make medicine time a safer, more loving place for them.

1 thought on “How to Get Toddler to Take Medicine”

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