Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Getting Your Baby to Take Medication

It can be a real struggle to get your refluxer to take medication. My daughter Rebecca needed all kinds of medication when she was a baby from reflux medication to antibiotics and vitamins. To say she disliked medicine is putting it mildly. Her little gums would clamp together and she would move her head this way and that to get away from the spoon or syringe. I would insist just as much as she resisted and we would struggle. It looked like some strange form of baby wrestling or child maltreatment. In any case, I was determined to get the medication in no matter how much she protested. She managed to get some of it in before the rest dribbled down her shirt or onto the floor. We both felt pretty worn out from the process. Unfortunately, she needed multiple doses of medication so our little ritual occurred over and over each day. Eventually we worked out a routine and the struggles decreased. Now that I know a great deal more about reflux, I realize she had valid reasons to resist taking medication.

Fear: Babies with reflux are often afraid of new flavors, colors, textures, temperatures in their mouth. New, unfamiliar foods may cause digestive discomfort so a baby with reflux is inclined to stay with familiar flavors and foods. It is hard for a baby to distinguish between food and medicine. So a baby with reflux may decide that anything that goes in the mouth should be approached with extreme caution. Crying, turning away and pursed lips (firmly closing the mouth) are all ways for a baby to express fear and displeasure.

Pain: Many medications will cause pain and irritation from the throat to the stomach.

Regurgitation: The medication may have tasted bad going down. Imagine how bad it would taste if it was mixed with stomach acid and then came back up again. Rebecca’s breath smelled of liquid baby vitamins long after I gave her a dose. I know this had to be unpleasant for her.

Association: A syringe or medication spoon may be associated with a bad taste or an unpleasant experience. We know babies are very smart and it makes sense that they would protest.

Some babies have developed a negative attitude about eating. If your baby is not excited about taking a bottle or a spoon of baby food, it is very likely that taking medication will be just as hard. Combined with pain, regurgitation and fear of having food or medicine in the mouth, it is likely that giving medication will be a struggle. My next blog will be full of ideas for getting babies to take their medication.


Check with your
doctor first!