Lots of children resist taking their medicine. Some toddlers even spit their medicine out! And trying to force them to swallow it down can lead to power struggles, wasted medicine, and a stressed-out family.

But here is one little trick for getting toddlers to take their medicine…even though it is a tiny bit sneaky and involves giving a smidge of fizzy drink. 

Best Trick to Get Toddler to Take Medicine

Before giving your toddler his medicine, pour about an ounce of decaffeinated, dark-coloured cola (like root beer) into each of 2 small glasses. Next, mix a dose of medicine into one of the glasses. (You can also try dark grape juice, but a strong-flavored, fizzy cola works best to hide bitterness.)

Now call your toddler, and while he watches, put his medicine in a spoon and say, ‘Take this, sweetie, then you can have a little cola. Some cola for you and some for me.’ If he willingly takes his medicine, give him the plain cola…and a pat on the back. (A little later, gossip to his teddy about how he swallowed all of his medicine and made you happy.)

What to Do If Toddler Will Not Take Medicine

If your child refuses to take the medicine, repeat your offer: “Take this really fast, sweetheart, then you can have your yummy cola.” Play the boob by begging a little (ham it up): “Please take it. P-l-e-a-s-e!!!” If he refuses again, pout and say, ‘Okay, you win! You always win! I never get to win! Here is your cola,’ but hand him the glass that is mixed with the medicine. Your toddler will guzzle the cola—and medicine—fast. He will be in such a hurry to drink it down before you change your mind, he will never realize he has been hoodwinked!

Do not gloat or say, ‘Gotcha!’ when it is over. That may make your little one feel tricked and cause him to refuse the cola when the next dose is due. After the cola/medicine combo is taken, show your child that you are pouring the spoon of medicine back into the bottle and set him free again.

More Ideas for Getting Your Toddler to Take Medicine

If the above method did not work for your toddler, or you want to add more ideas to your arsenal in order to get your child to take medicine, here are a few more tricks to have up your sleeve...

Get Your Toddler to Take Liquid Medicine With Different Delivery

How do you get your child to take liquid medicine? If your child will not take liquid medicine from a spoon, then opt for a medicine dropper or plastic syringe. Use these to squirt the medicine into your child’s throat or into their cheek, so less of the yucky stuff tortures their little taste buds.

Give Smaller Doses of Medicine to Get Your Child to Take it

Try breaking the medicine up into smaller doses over several minutes, rather than all at once. This baby-steps approach to medicine, might make it easier for them to get it all down. 

Get Your Toddler to Take Medicine By Hiding it

Put a twist on my trick for getting toddlers to take their medicine, and use food instead of cola or juice. Try mixing it in apple sauces, yogurt, or whatever else your child likes to eat. Just remember that your child needs to finish all of the food you have mixed the medicine into in order to get the full dosage.

Final Thoughts on How to Get Your Toddler to Take Medicine

For Mary Poppins getting a child to take medicine may have been as easy as using a spoonful of sugar, but for many parents, getting a toddler to take medicine is a struggle. Fortunately, the above tips should make it easier to get through the flus, fevers, and cold season. If you are looking for additional advice about coping with colds, check out our list of baby cold treatments, and tips for how to protect your child from germs

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.