Tips for taking medicines
Babies and toddlers under age 2 can’t understand why medicine is important. But they find comfort in routine.
Slowly squirt liquid medicine into the side of their mouth.
Put the medicine into a nipple and allow your child to suck on the nipple.
Toddlers understand simple explanations for taking medicines, such as “the medicine will help you feel better.” But, they may not like the taste or know how to swallow medicine.
Mix medicine with applesauce, juice, pudding or ice cream.
Avoid distractions. Turn off the TV or take a break from playing so your child can focus on taking medicine.
Include taking medicines in their play. Your child may want to give pretend medicine to a stuffed animal or doll before taking the real medicine.
Children in this age group appreciate having some control and enjoy tracking progress to earn rewards.
Talk with your child about the importance of taking medicines to get better and stay healthy.
Offer your child a choice of time and place to take the medicine, such as now or in 5 minutes. Give your child choices about what to drink or eat with it.
Use a sticker chart to track medicine and offer a small reward for milestones.
Older children may be more aware of side effects caused by each medicine. They also understand the consequences of not taking their medicines, such as having to go back to the hospital.
Involve your child in their health care. If your child has questions about the medicines or concerns about side effects, help them write down questions to ask the doctor at the next appointment.
Schedule medicines around times your child can do something fun. For example, after you take your medicine, you can watch this video or TV show, or do this activity.
Teens may rely on parents for support but also want to gain independence. Fitting in to a peer group is important to teens.
They may be resistant to taking medicines or doing things that make them feel different. Some teens may hide medicines or secretly spit them out.
Stress the importance of taking medicine and the consequences of not taking it.
Send a text message with a reminder to take the medicine, or set a reminder on your teen’s cell phone.
Reinforce desired behaviors. Notice when your teen is being responsible for their care and offer a compliment.
As needed, supervise your teen taking medicines to make sure they’re not being skipped or discarded.
Talk to another parentIt can help to talk to another parent caring for a child after transplant. The Be The Match Peer Connect program connects you with a trained volunteer who is also a parent caregiver. They can answer your questions and share their own experiences. Learn more and request a connection.
Stories from other parents
“My sister first started by putting the pills in ice cream and teaching how to swallow the ice cream whole without searching for the pills. He was hesitant at first, but after a while we figured out the right amount of ice cream he could handle without noticing the pills.”
- Megan, Ben’s aunt
“For the most part, Amanda understood why she needed to take her medicines and was good about doing so. But she resisted her anti-seizure medicine. What finally worked is when we explained the consequences of her not taking the medicine. She was old enough to get her driver’s permit, but it would be dangerous to her and others if she drove and wasn’t taking her medicine. Once she could show us that she was committed to taking the medicine, we arranged for her to start driving classes.”
- Lizette, Amanda’s mom
“Caleb was so little he didn’t know why he had to take his medicines. He’d fight us and we would have to hold him down so we could squirt them in the back of his mouth. It was hard to do, but we got them in. Eventually, we found chocolate syrup cut the bitterness.”
- Ann, Caleb’s mom
Other resources• Use the Be The Match free After Transplant Care Guide mobile app to help plan for doctor appointments and set reminders.
• Find tips to help your teen be more involved in their health care at GotTransition.org
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