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’s one little trick for getting toddlers to take their medicine…even though it’s a tiny bit sneaky and involves giving a smidge of soda. 

The Best Trick to Get Your Toddler to Take Medicine

Before giving your toddler his medicine, pour about an ounce of decaffeinated, dark-colored soda (like root beer) into each of two 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 soda 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 soda. Some soda for you and some for me.” If he willingly takes his medicine, give him the plain soda…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 Your Toddler Won’t Take Medicine

If your child refuses to take the medicine, repeat your offer: “Take this really fast, sweetheart, then you can have your yummy soda.” 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’s your soda,” but hand him the glass that’s mixed with the medicine. Your toddler will guzzle the soda—and medicine—fast. He’ll be in such a hurry to drink it down before you change your mind, he’ll never realise he’s been hoodwinked!

Don’t gloat or say, “Gotcha!” when it’s over. That may make your little one feel tricked and cause him to refuse the soda when the next dose is due. After the soda/medicine combo is taken, show your child that you’re pouring the spoon of medicine back into the bottle and set him free again.

More Ideas for Getting Your Toddler to Take Medicine

If this method didn’t 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 some additional tricks to have up your sleeve...

Get Your Toddler to Take Liquid Medicine With a Different Delivery

How do you get your child to take liquid medicine? If your child won’t 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 soda or juice. Try mixing it in apple sauces, yogurt, or whatever else your tot likes to eat. Just remember that your child needs to finish all of the food you’ve 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 flus, fevers, and cold season. If you’re 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.