Jan Gambino Jan Gambino's Blog

Mom Tested Ideas for Giving Medication

I guess infants and children without reflux really do love cherry, grape, bubble gum and berry flavored medication. When the label says, “Kid Tested and Approved”, I always think to myself, “Yeah, tested on non refluxers of course!” Could you imagine what would happen if the drug manufacturers invited a room full of refluxers to test their medication flavors? There would be puckered lips and grimaces all around! My refluxers have a flavor acceptance scale with only two ratings: barely tolerable and really awful. I think we have tried just about every flavor and type of medication from liquid, chewable, melt in the mouth, gummy and even chewing gum vitamins.

It isn’t the fault of the drug manufacturers that refluxers often dislike medication. Whether it is a candy bar or a chewable vitamin tablet, when mixed with stomach acid, it just tastes bad. My kids manage to urp and burp up food and medication so they taste it twice. I feel bad for them.

There are some ways to help your baby or child manage medication whether it is an over the counter pain reliever, vitamin or prescription reflux medication.

For babies:

  • Use a small medication syringe to give liquid medication. Gently place the syringe along the gum line to the back of the mouth.
  • Avoid placing medication on the tongue where there are more taste buds.
  • Ask the doctor if it is possible to use a dissolving tablet or powder mixture.
  • Ask the pharmacist about flavoring.

For toddlers:
  • Set up a routine so medication time is predictable.
  • Use special medication syringes and spoons.
  • Avoid using eating utensils to give medications.
  • Avoid hiding medication in food. Your child may notice and stop eating a previously tolerated food or only eat a small amount of the food and get less than a full dose of medication.
  • Use a reward system for taking medication such as a sticker chart.

For children:
  • Try different types of medication: liquid, chewable, pill and see if one is more accepted.
  • Let your child have some control over the medication such as marking a calendar to keep track of doses or measuring medication (it is still important to supervise medication).
  • Talk to the pharmacist about different ways to take medication (for example, sprinkling an opened capsule of a PPI medication on apple sauce or compounding into a liquid).

Remember it is important to follow the manufacturer’s directions on how to give medication. Your doctor and pharmacist will explain any special instructions to you. It is not a good idea to place medication in a bottle or mix into food. The medication may interact with the food and cause the medication to lose its strength. Also, if your child does not finish the bottle or food, it will be difficult to tell how much medication the child received.

If your baby or child is really struggling to take medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist for further assistance. They might be able to suggest another method of taking medication or another brand of medication with a flavoring your child will tolerate. Remember that it takes a bit of adjustment for you to give medication. It might be awkward at first to use a syringe and set up a schedule. Check your attitude and body language. Be sure to convey to your child a positive attitude combined with a no- nonsense approach. Your baby or child needs to adjust to a new routine and new flavor too. It is likely that over time, both of you will develop a rhythm or routine to make medication time tolerable.

I am so glad there is such a variety of medication flavors and types (chewable, liquid, etc) available for infants and children. You never know what will be the magic combination for your child. For instance, as an infant, my daughter Rebecca (a refluxer from day 1) would clamp her mouth and hold her breath just at the sight of the syringe of medicine. By the time she was 6 years old, we had tried every flavor and type of medication without success. They all tasted bad to her. She finally taught herself to swallow pills. In contrast, my daughter Emily (without reflux) would beg for more kid friendly medication and lick the spoon. Yet as a preteen, she would gag on pills and preferred chewables and liquid medication. As you can imagine our medicine cabinet looks like a mini pharmacy!

So I am grateful for the variety of medications that are available for infants and children. I need all the help I can get to make medication time smooth and easy!


Check with your
doctor first!