Lots of children resist taking their medicine. 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 technique that really gets the job done for older toddlers…even though it’s a tiny bit sneaky and involved giving a smidge of soda. Here’s what you do: 

Before giving your toddler his medicine, pour about an ounce of decaffeinated, dark-colored soda (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 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.) 

If your child refuses 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 realize 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.

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