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Advice on giving children medication

Medicines can come in all different formulations for children, these can include:

  • tablets
  • capsules
  • liquid medicine
  • granules or powder
  • lozenges
  • inhalers
  • suppositories or enemas
  • creams or ointments for skin
  • eye drops or ointments
  • ear drops/sprays
  • nose drops/spray

You will be told how often to give the medicine.

Some medicines need taken with food or milk or on an empty stomach, your healthcare provider will tell you this information or this will be on the patient information leaflet supplied with your medicine.

Follow the storage instructions given by the healthcare provider or on the side of the bottle. Some medicines need kept in the fridge.

Side effects can happen with medicines, for example diarrhoea and vomiting can occur with antibiotics.  Encourage your child to drink water to replace the fluid they have lost.   If it is severe and your child is dehydrated, contact your GP or attend hospital.


Administering Medicines to Children

Sometimes children do not like the taste of liquid medicines and it can be a struggle to get medicines into them. Some tips to help include:

  • A positive approach is important. This means you expect your child to take the medication, just like how you expect them to put shoes on when going out to play.
  • Be direct – explain to them that it is medicine and will help them feel better.
  • Remain calm if they will not take the medicine, have a break for a few min and try again.
  • Sometimes pretending to give medicine to a doll or teddy can help your child understand the process.
  • There are more taste buds at the back of the tongue, so aiming the medicine into the side of the cheek can help with the taste. With older children, a drink of icy water before can also help.
  • If you are struggling getting medications into your child, chat to your pharmacist as some medicines can be mixed with a little juice or applesauce.
  • If using an oral syringe draw up the correct amount of medicine into an oral syringe and put into the inside of the child or babies cheek.
  • Let you child or baby swallow the medicine before you give more.
  • Give lots of praise once your child takes their medicine.
  • You can use rewards – ‘If you take your medicine all week.’ Make sure it is something you can stick to!

Medicines for Children has great information on how to give all different types of medications including inhalers and tablets.