How to Give Medicine to a Baby

Giving liquid medicine to an infant can be very frustrating.  If you are having difficulty with this, you are not alone!  Many medical studies show that babies frequently get the wrong dose of medicine, in part because they spit it out.  This article will give some helpful hints and other general information about medication safety and will show you that there’s a new way to get the medicine to go down, fuss free, with Pacidose.

How do I handle my baby’s medicine safely?

Make sure:

  • The medication has been stored properly. Refrigeration is critical for some medications.
  • Check the expiration date on the package.
  • You understand the directions – ask your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions.
  • Wash your hands before handling the medicine.
What is the best way to measure the right dose of medicine for my child?

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) both recommend that liquid medicine for babies be given in milliliters only.  Use a standard oral syringe to measure the medicine.  Teaspoons and tablespoons are confusing and inaccurate.  The syringe on Pacidose has one side for milliliters (mL) and the other side for teaspoons (tsp) because some doctors still use teaspoons.

Avoid transferring medicine between devices because some will be lost in the process.  That’s why an oral syringe plugs directly into Pacidose—no transferring.  Also, other standard syringes from pharmacies should fit in the same connector.  The Pacidose syringe is 5 milliliters (5 mL).  A 10 mL syringe will also fit, so if you have an older child that needs more than 5 mL in a single dose, you can ask for that in a pharmacy or from your doctor.  You can also ask your doctor if the medication comes in a higher concentration so the volume you give is less.

Always measure twice.  After you draw up the medicine, check the measurement again. Apply a piece of tape to the outside of the syringe to help you remember the exact dose. This makes measuring really easy in the middle of the night.

Now attach the oral syringe to Pacidose.  You are ready to give medicine to your infant the easy way.

If you do not have Pacidose, you can try to put the medicine in the side of your baby’s mouth, but the taste will be strong and he or she might spit the medicine right back out.

How else can I get my baby to take the medicine without a fight?

Give the medication when your child is hungry.  And remove any distractions from the room.  Sit down in a chair and hold your baby so you can easily introduce Pacidose.  If you are relaxed your baby will be relaxed.

What if my baby won’t use a Pacifier?

If your baby does not use a pacifier, introduce Pacidose by loading the syringe with something familiar to your baby first.  Let him or her drink the familiar liquid first, and get used to it.  When comfortable with that liquid then load Pacidose with the medicine.  Pacidose is still easier than a hard syringe!

What if my child has already been able to wean off the pacifier?

If your baby has stopped using a pacifier and you are concerned that introducing it again will cause problems, consider this.  Pacidose feel much more natural that a hard syringe and it is important to give the proper dose.  Because you are not using Pacidose as a comforting device, only to give the medicine, there is little chance that your baby will want to suck on it constantly.  You will not have to stop using the pacifier again.

What if my baby uses only one kind of pacifier and spits out other brands?

Try to introduce Pacidose filled with something that tastes good.  You can even dip the nipple into something sweet.  Think about Pacidose not as a pacifier, but as an easy way to give medicine because it is shaped like a nipple.  Your baby should think of it the same way.  Pacidose is not meant as a soothing device.  It’s a way to help your sick baby get well again.

Why can’t I just put the medicine in my baby bottle?

Here’s the problem.  What if your baby then doesn’t drink the whole bottle?  Then you still have the same issue:  you don’t know how much your baby got because it’s now diluted with other liquid.

What if I ask the pharmacist to flavor the medicine for my baby?

Flavors work for some babies, but not all.  And, if you’ve ever tasted them, you’ll agree it’s still not easy to get it down.  Also, some flavoring agents contain dyes and other chemical agents.

Are there other ways to disguise the taste of medicine for my child?

Sure, you can do a few other things.  Give you baby a Popsicle before the medicine to numb the taste buds.  The same goes for the medicine.  Put the medication in the refrigerator.  Cold liquids don’t taste as strong.

Pacidose bypasses most of the taste buds and places the medicine on the back of the tongue.  So you can chill the meds, chill the mouth and use Pacidose for a triple whammy to minimize rejection.

What if my baby spits up even something easy like Tylenol?

Try all the techniques above.  If your baby has actually swallowed the medicine and is vomiting it back up, it becomes a little trickier.  Most liquid is absorbed from the stomach in about an hour.  If that time has past your child likely retained the full dose.  If less time has passed, call your doctor to determine a re-dosing schedule or ask for a suppository.

How to give medicine to a toddler?

Older kids can sometimes be harder to medicate than infants because they are stronger and want more control.  A toddler who refuses medicine can be a real challenge.

You can do three things.  First, tell them the truth: they need the medicine if they want to feel better.  And it may not taste good, but they need to take it.  Once a child is about 3, he or she can understand logic so this sometimes works.  You can also play the grown up card. “Being a grown up boy or girl means you have to do things sometimes that are hard.”  Third, give a little control.  Your toddler can choose when to take it, (before or after bath time) or choose which liquid to drink after the dose.  You can offer milk or juice in Pacidose or from a cup as a chaser.  Or a palate cleanser, as I liked to call it.

Are there any other tricks to help my older child take medicine?

Don’t forget the Oscar awards. Your child can play the doctor and give a stuffed animal the “medicine” (water). You can help your child draw up the liquid and give it to a stuffed animal. Miraculously the stuffed animal will dance around with joyful health.

What about over the counter medicine for cold and flu to my baby?

Avoid over the counter medicines for your young child.  Many studies show that cold medications for kids under 6 are not helpful and may be harmful.  You should check with your doctor for any medications that are not specifically recommended.  A better way to treat runny nose, cough, and congestion is lots of TLC, fluids, rest and room humidifiers.

What questions should I ask my doctor when a medicine is prescribed?

Here are some questions the FDA recommends that you ask when your doctor prescribes a medication:

  • What is the drug, and what is it for?
  • Will the drug interfere with any other medications my child is taking?
  • How many times a day will my child need to take this medication, and how long does she need to be on it?
  • Are there any side effects I should expect or be concerned about?
  • What if my child misses a dose?
  • How soon will symptoms improve?
  • Is there a less expensive generic alternative that’s as effective?

Also, when you pick up the medicine from the pharmacy, look at the bottle, and make sure it makes sense to you.  Pharmacists are a great resource for you and your baby and are right there for questions when you pick up the prescription.  And pharmacists can call the doctor just to double check if there is any question or concern about the medicine or the dose.

Lastly, what about those half empty bottles in your medicine cabinet?

Toss (where and how)? Keep?

Many people have medicines that linger in the cabinet past the acute stage of an illness.  First, understand that taking the full course of an antibiotic is important to overcome the illness and to decrease antibiotic resistant organisms.   Don’t quit when your child is feeling better.  Quit when the full course is complete.

Check the expiration date of Tylenol, Motrin and other over the counter products.  If it’s old, get rid of it.

There are some other products that really have no place for pediatric care these days.

  • Syrup of ipecac: better to call poison control for any concern of an ingestion 800-222-1222
  • Mercury thermometers: breakage = mercury exposure = bad
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: plain tap water is better to irrigate fresh wounds
  • Aspirin: not for kids, can cause Reye’s syndrome
  • OTC cold and flu medications: not for kids under 6
Now, how to get rid of the old medication?

You can visit the DEA’s website for more information about drug disposal, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events and to locate a DEA-authorized collector in their area. You can also call the DEA Office of Diversion Control’s Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 to find an authorized collector in your community.

What if I can’t find a take-back program or DEA-authorize collector?

Why not flush or put them in the trash?

If no medicine take-back programs or DEA-authorized collectors are available in your area, don’t just flush.  Medication in the water can harm the downstream ecosystem.  You can put old medicines in the trash; just follow this advice so it doesn’t get taken accidentally:

  • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds.
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
  • Throw the container in your household trash.
  • Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, and then dispose of the container.

Lastly, it goes without saying but I will say it.  Keep all medicines and nonfood items out of reach of your kids.  Be smart with you little ones.