Parenting

Parenting: A spoonful of sugar

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mary Poppins famously promised that a spoonful of sugar would make the medicine go down, "in the most delightful way." To borrow another famous line from a musical, in this case Porgy and Bess: "Tain't necessarily so."

My little guy got the sniffles after his flu shot and that then grew into a full sinus infection. After wiping his nose for days, it was time to quiet the bubbling cauldron of green slime. First the doctor prescribed amoxycillin. Think and pink, it's meant to taste like chemical bubblegum, a sweet shot that can't hide the quinine bitter aftertaste. We were supposed to give five milliliters a day; I couldn't even disguise .5 ml in applesauce or milk. "Yucky. No want," my toddler said solemnly, pushing it away. The same was true as we switched to azithromycin. It's milder, but little man still wasn't having it.

So we went to plan B: Holding him in a vice hold and shooting the medicine into his screaming mouth. And we all got up from the floor sticky from the medicine he managed to hurl out. He's getting better, but we're all traumatized. Which, of course, made me wonder if there was a better way.

A few sites advocated an approach advised by my friend Karen Rogers: Aim the syringe into the child's cheek, closer to the middle back of the mouth. This can help the meds slide down into the throat and bypass the taste buds on the tongue that pick up bitter.

The website whattoexpect.com also says try breaking up the dosage over several minutes, rather than giving one mega dose. You can also offer a treat, from stickers to toys to a favorite treat, as a reward.

Parents.com suggests, especially for older toddlers and kids, giving the kid more control. Give him the medicine in a cup to drink on his own, and the battles may go away. It notes a pediatrician who puts the meds in her toddler's tea cups, and they take it down as they play tea party with imaginary friends.

Along this line, pbs.org suggests you try to talk to your child, rather than just throwing him down and forcing the meds. Explain that he needs the dose and it'll make him feel better. The site also suggests you offer choices, if you can: Do you want your medicine before watching cartoons or after? Do you want it to taste like grape or cherry?

Parents also suggests appearance and texture changes can make a difference. A little food coloring can turn a chalky white mix into a cuter princessy pink or Batman blue. And in some cases making the meds a little thicker or thinner may help it pass muster with your little one.

In some cases, if your child is worked up and tense, a short time-out may be good. Take five for a drink of water or a walk around the living room. But then come right back to the meds, don't put it off indefinitely.

A time honored way of dealing with this is to mask meds in food or drink. In many cases, that bowl of applesauce or ice pop will do the trick, but check with your doc. Some meds are altered as they get hot or chill. And some meds react adversely in certain foods. As well, talk to your doc before mashing pills up, since some are not as effective outside of their protective coating.

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