Just a spoonful of sugar...

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Dr. Emily Decker

Q:Every time my daughter gets sick, it is impossible to give her the medicine she needs. She refuses to take it, calling it "yucky" and swatting at my hand. What can I do to make medicine easier to give?

A: One of the hardest parts about taking care of a sick child is trying to give him or her medicine without getting it knocked away or losing half of it from the spoon. Kids are squirmy, and unless they know that a syrup-filled spoon is going to taste like candy, they will do whatever they can to avoid taking it. There are some tricks to help giving medicine to your little ones easier, but always consult your pediatrician first.

Since the biggest reason kids refuse medicine is because of its taste, try adding flavors to their medicine to disguise the bitter taste. Chocolate syrup, for example, is a strong, concentrated flavor that masks the tastes of many medicines. Some pharmacies can even add flavors to medicines, using FDA-approved dye-free, sugar-free hypoallergenic flavors.

Chasers like chocolate milk work well to disguise the bitter aftertaste of many medicines. Staring at a tall glass of chocolate milk sitting on the kitchen counter is a strong motivator for kids.

Chilling medicine also helps disguise the taste (just ask your pharmacist first to check that the medicine can be chilled).

If your child is old enough, giving a Popsicle before giving the medicine numbs the mouth and makes the bitter taste of the medicine less noticeable.

Also, chewable tabs or capsules that can be opened and mixed with food are great options for finicky kids.

-Dr. Emily Decker is a primary-care physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.