Giving medicine to your child

If your child is sick and needs to take medicine, the most important thing is to get them to take it at the correct time and in the correct dose.

Here are some ideas you can try, depending on the age of your child and the type of medicine.

  • Give your child a flavoured ice block or small ice cube to suck to numb their tongue before giving the medicine.
  • Mix the medicine with a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of something sweet such as honey (if over 1 year), jam, fruit puree or ice cream. Don’t mix with essential foods because your child may refuse to eat them later.
  • Give a drink of water, juice, soft drink or an ice block after the medicine.
  • If the medication has an unpleasant taste, get your child to pinch their nose and drink the medicine through a straw.
  • If the medicine is not going down, ask the pharmacist if it is possible to have the medicine in another form.


Hold your baby leaning back (not lying down) on your lap. Place their arm closest to you behind your back. Firmly hug your baby’s other arm and hand with your arm and hand, and snuggle their head between your arm and body. You could also gently hold their legs between yours. Your other hand is free to give the medicine.

  • Place syringe, measuring spoon or dropper in your baby’s mouth well back on their tongue or to the side of their tongue.
  • Pour it in slowly to reduce the possibility of choking or spitting out.
  • You could also try putting the medicine in a bottle teat and letting your baby suck on it.

Older infants and toddlers

  • Offer medication in a syringe, spoon or dropper (as with infants).
  • You may need to hold your child if they struggle.
  • If it is getting too difficult, wait for half an hour or so before trying again.  

Preschool children

  • Use a straightforward approach – simple persuasion often works.
  • A special container can be helpful.
  • Offer rewards, such as stickers or other things your child likes.

More information

Talk with your pharmacist, doctor, Well Child nurse or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you need help.

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