How to Help Your Child Swallow Bad Tasting Medicine


Unless you are the luckiest parent on Earth, you have probably experienced resistance from your child when giving her certain medications. She pouts and cries and tells you it tastes yucky. Usually, she is correct. The medicine may claim to be bubble gum or grape flavored, but one whiff will tell you no tasty treat awaits your child in that bottle. You know you must make her take it for her own good. There are ways to help her swallow bad tasting medicine. Here are a few suggestions.

Things You'll Need

  • Kool-Aid powder
  • Cold juice
  • Soft food (i.e. applesauce, pudding, etc.)
  • Popsicle

Disguise The Taste

Disguising the taste of bad tasting medicine is probably the oldest trick in the book, but also one of the most effective as well. Chill the bottle of medicine before you dispense it. Sometimes a change in temperature is just what is needed to subdue the bitterness and make it more palatable for your little one.

Mix the medicine with Kool-Aid powder. Just take your child’s favorite flavor of drink mix and either pour it into his medicine bottle or mix just a small amount into each individual dose. Similarly, many pharmacies now offer flavored mix-ins for children’s prescriptions. Ask your pharmacist about any flavors which may be available to add to your child’s medicine.

Mix the dose of medicine into a cup of chilled juice. Make sure he drinks the entire cup of juice to ensure he gets his full dosage.

If your child needs to take her medicine in a pill form and is unable to swallow it, consider crushing the pill and mixing the powder with a soft food which requires no chewing. This can easily be done with applesauce or pudding. Check with the pharmacist first; some medications shouldn't be crushed.

Let her eat an ice pop just before administering her medicine. The frozen treat will help numb her tongue and taste buds, minimizing her distaste for the medication.

Once she has swallowed the medicine, give her a cold drink of her choice to help wash the taste from her mouth. Allowing her to choose her “chaser” will also serve as incentive to take the medication.

Let him hold the spoon or medicine cup. If your child feels in control, he is more likely to cooperate.

Try explaining to your child the reason for the medicine. Tell him the medicine will make him feel better, and he needs to take it if he wishes to get well. After he has swallowed his medication, praise and hug him. Tell him how proud you are of him.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you find yourself in a situation where you must forcibly administer your child's medication, drip or pour slowly onto the back of the tongue. Keep his mouth closed until he swallows.
  • Never administer medicine to your child while he is lying flat on his back, as this presents a choking hazard.

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