28 answers

2.5 Yo Refuses to Take Antibiotic

My 2.5 year old was diagnosed with a double ear infection this afternoon. Tonight we gave her the first of ten daily doses--well, we attempted to. Its only a teaspoon, but I doubt she got even half of that. She's in so much pain, I wish she was old enough to reason with! There are some nasty illnesses out there right now and she has one of them. She has to have medicine if she is going to feel better. I can't stand her being in pain from the illness, but I can't stand "torturing" her with its cure either.

My husband tried holding her while I put the syringe in her mouth and the other way around. We tried bribing her with M&Ms, ice cream, Caillou--whatever. I tried hiding it IN the ice cream. I don't want to put it into a drink, because I can't risk her not getting the full dose if she decides not to finish the whole drink. From her perspective, however, she sees us as pinning her down and torturing her. She sounds like she is drowning and therefore will do what she can to evacuate all liquid from her mouth. She's screaming and nothing seems to work. Our older daughter LOVES medicine and would even take every dose for her. Our younger daughter watches the older take several medicines in a row and still refuses, even though the rest of the day she copies every move she makes!

Any ideas on how to get successfully through the last 9 doses? Thanks SO MUCH in advance!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We have only 2 days left of the antibiotic, and I'm happy to say she has gotten almost every dose! She sees me prepping it and covers her mouth with both hands. I hold her hands and say encouraging things, and once the syringe is in her mouth, I only squeeze a little toward her cheek, and then I DO NOT REMOVE the syringe before squeezing a little more. This limits the amount of time it takes, but the obstruction between her teeth also makes it impossible for her to push the meds out with her tongue. Quick and effective. Tonight (when it was over, of course, and she been handed a few M&Ms) she said, "I like medicine!"

I appreciate all the suggestions! Its amazing how this one subject can have so many schools of thought from mixing the antibiotic with a more appetizing substance, to holding the child pinned to the floor, to not giving it at all and doing something homeopathic! Its tough, too, because kids themselves are even more different. What works for one may not work for others. Regardless, I felt very supported by the many ideas as well as the stories that help me realize my child is not the only one in the world with a serious aversion to medicine!

She's also feeling better, by the way!

Featured Answers

It is liquid correct?? Mix it will a squirt of choc. syrup, Like Hershey's. My son was the same way, it worked miracles. Then squirt it up with a med. thing.

Working from home and loving it!

This sounds a little silly but before you do anything else taste the medicine. My son who is usually Ok with medicine reacted this way when he had an ear infection. I finally tasted it and discovered that it tasted worse than anything I'd ever tasted. It was call Septin or Seftin. I called the pediatrician and they prescribed something that tasted better and he finished the prescription.
Good luck! I hope she feels better soon.

My sis was having a terrible time giving an anitbiotic to her son. So I filled a syringe w/ Gatorade & told my nephew I needed to take my medicine too. & asked him if he would he give me mine & i would give him his... worked like a charm.

good luck!!

More Answers

Hold her down and pinch her nose. She will have to swallow to scream. Give it half at a time ( full teaspoon, yes?)
Sometimes one simply has to do what needs to be done for the best of the child.
You are not tortoring her, you are giving her a needed medicine and she is NOT allowed any input into this situation. You are her mother....do what a mother has to do.
Just do it.
Best wishes and God bless
Grandmother Lowell

1 mom found this helpful

A nurse at our pedi's office taught me a good way to get the medicine into reluctant kids. Parent sits on the floor, back to a wall for support. Open your legs, lay your child face up with her head at the juncture of your legs. Put her arms straight out, place your legs on top of her arms. This way her arms are pinned, and your arms are still free to hold her head. And her legs are too far away from you to do any damage, should she kick. Then, take the syringe, point it towards the inside of her cheek, and administer the medicine. It's not fun, forcing her to take it this way, but you're right: she is sick, and taking medicine isn't a choice. I used to worry that forcing my daughter to take meds this way somehow scar her. But it didn't. As she got older, she did learn to cooperate and takes her medicine without problems now.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter was the same way. We would force it in and she would spit it right back at us. My husband and I both felt horrible holding her down and forcing it in...the whole thing ended with tears all around!!

With our doctor's ok, we started to put it into one of those drinkable yogurts and let her use a straw (the novelty of the straw really helped I think). The container hid the color, the tang of the yogurt hid the taste. She gobbled it right up. The first few times, just to be sure she'd drink it all, I drank a few big sips of the yogurt before putting the medicine in so there was just a little bit of liquid for her to drink. Not a problem because she kept drinking and slurping the straw for more.

Good luck!!!!

My sis was having a terrible time giving an anitbiotic to her son. So I filled a syringe w/ Gatorade & told my nephew I needed to take my medicine too. & asked him if he would he give me mine & i would give him his... worked like a charm.

good luck!!

I don't make a big deal about it, I just put the syringe in my daughters mouth and cheer her on once its all swallowed. You have to get her when shes distracted, like watching TV or playing with a crayons or something. If she is upset, or it seems like she may be able to gain little control of you she will try to be the boss.

Hi- how about giving her homeopathic remedies? Chamomilla and Pulsatilla are wonderful remedies for ear infections- both of my kids responded beautifully to them and I have never given an antibiotic for ear infections.
If you have any other questions, I can refer you to a naturopathic doctor/homeopath. Trust your child's responses to the medicine- I do. That's not to say you'll never need antibiotics, but I have only given them to my kids one time each and they are 9 and 6!
Please let me know how it turns out.


Hi K.

My son has had frequent ear infections, so I understand!! When we have resorted to antibiotics, and he hasn't liked the taste, we mix it with Barleans Strawberry/Banana Omega Swirl (and omega-3 flax oil supplement-- available at Whole Foods, Good Health in Quincy and probably your local health food store). I don't know what your budget is like, but it's expensive -- nearly $20.00 a bottle. My son and I are vegetarians, and I give it to him as a supplement, but it's really been great for those nasty tasting antibiotics!



Just wanted to say good luck! My son (2) was the same way and after many calls to the pediatrician... I had to hold him down -shoot the medicine down his throat (amidst screaming and crying like I am sure you can imagine) and pray he didn't vomit it up! By the time he was 3.5 he had decided he likes the way it tastes! All forgotten! Now it's band-aids for boo boo's that he hates -Go figure!

This sounds a little silly but before you do anything else taste the medicine. My son who is usually Ok with medicine reacted this way when he had an ear infection. I finally tasted it and discovered that it tasted worse than anything I'd ever tasted. It was call Septin or Seftin. I called the pediatrician and they prescribed something that tasted better and he finished the prescription.
Good luck! I hope she feels better soon.

have the pharmacy flavor the meds to something else.. not every kid likes the usual bubble gum flavor.. worked for my son!

My kids were like that...it is all a bad memory now but I remember forcibly giving them their antibiotics. Not fun and inevitably messy! For one of my kids it help to give them a marshmallow before the medicine, when they are halfway through with the marshmallow, give them the medicine (use a syringe it gets it back in their throat better).

Also I heard that the pharmacist can add flavoring to antibiotics although we never tried this myself so I can't say if it really helps or not. Good luck!

My very picky son refused liquid anti-biotics. I tried hiding it in everything, ice-cream, juice and choc. milk. He said he could still taste the difference and refused everything I gave him. I ended up getting the chewable form and having him take it with M&M's and that worked. Though he wasn't crazy about the taste, I at least got him to eat it and he thought it was great that 4 M&M's was part of his medicine. Good luck!

Hi K.,

I think others gave you a lot of great tactics to try. I just went through this with my son when he was 2.5 and had an infected finger. Basically what worked was asking him was he would like for a treat after he took it. That way, you are framing the question with the underlying assumption that they WILL take it. It's not a choice. Turns out he wanted a "Flora Bear" which is the pro-biotic/friendly flora chewable tablet that is good to help them repopulate their gut after the antibiotic wipes out all the bacteria, good and bad. To me, Flora Bears taste disgusting, so I never thought of it as a bribe. But kids have their own ideas. Maybe you could find out if your daughter has her heart set on something. I find it very ironic that he coveted something that was very healthy for him, especially in these circumstances!

It's also important to offer a "chaser" immediately after the antibiotic...have the shot glass of water or juice ready and make sure she knows she can wash her mouth out right away after she is done with her medicine. So that even if you have to pin her down and she is crying, afterward you can offer the chaser to get the taste out. She will probably say yes and have to stop crying to drink the chaser.

Good luck!

You didn't mention which antibiotic it was. I know my daughter would take the yuckier ones mixed in with her yogurt. Between the creaminess and the flavor of the yogurt, the antibiotic is masked and she eats it. Yay! Good luck!

Best thing for us was to have the medicine flavored - any CVS or Walgreens will do it for you. Also, for our daughter, we lay her on the floor while her favorite cartoon is on - she's so distracted she sometimes takes it!

I recommend give her a popcicle or freeze pop(you can make your own with her favorite juice). Let her start the pop about 1/2 way through (some of the taste buds will be numb) give her the medicine then let her finish the pop. Now you have given her medicine with fluids too!!!

My son had to take antibiotics a lot. You have to be quick but I would hold his nose and when he would open his mouth to complain.....in went the medicine. I do not know if she is a spitter but I followed it with a blowing air in his face to facilitae the swallow.
The other thing is that he was as afraid of being sick as I was having him sick. So we had cookies milk after the medication. It got to be a ritual and he loved our special time of just visiting
Good luck

One suggestion for you, K.. Have you tried putting it in a pretty shot glass or the little plastic cups that come with some cough medicines? Perhaps the smaller size will be less overwhelming to your little one.

The syringe is a foreign object and probably looks quite scary to her, but the little glass is more her size. Sometimes using a pretty little espresso cup and saucer works, too.

You can use a syringe, that helps direct the medicine. Hold her down, but in a seated position. Easiest if she sits on Dad's lap, and he restrains her in that position (very squirmly made need a crossed leg across her lap), get the medicine in her mouth but leave the syringe between her teeth (makes it a little harder to spit). Avoid the cajoling, just tell her this is the way it has to be, but reward her with a popsicle or something afterwards (that's fluid too, alwasy good when sick). I'm a nurse in the ED so we see some of this sometimes ;) Good luck.

After she has settled down a bit try giving her the syringe and letting her do it herself. This way she is in "control". Hope this works!

It is liquid correct?? Mix it will a squirt of choc. syrup, Like Hershey's. My son was the same way, it worked miracles. Then squirt it up with a med. thing.

Working from home and loving it!

You can either have the pharmacy flavor it my oldest likes watermelon and also sour apple. I don't know if it would work for you but we give one med to our youngest in a pill form crushed and in a spoonful of pudding. Our youngest is really good at taking most things but our oldest was terrible you couldn't hide the amoxicillian in anything so as someone else mentioned have your hubby hold her and you use a syringe. Good luck and I hope she is feeling better soon.

My 3.5 year old has VUR so has been on Antibiotics multiple time due to UTI's. We always had a huge struggle, she would run and hide the second she saw the syringe or the bottle. One day i went to the dollar store and found some small cheap plastic cups withthe Disney princess's on it. That night i made her a "Super Special Princess Chocolate Milk" i only used maybe a 1/4 cup milk (to make sure she drank it all) but enough chocolate to mask the taste. She would sit on my lap as we read a princess book and would drink it. She thought it was great and was never the wiser that it was actually her medicine! Hope this helps!

You could consider natural remedies - Herbs for Kids makes a garlic ear oil that has totally wiped out ear infections for several friends' kids. That, along with chiropractic and avoiding dairy, should help a lot - no need for antibiotics or forcing anything down her throat.

Hi K.,
I just want to encourage you, if you have to pin her down to get it in....that's what you have to do. It is hard, but it's necessary. I have to give 4 insulin shots to my 2.5 year old every day. I let her know that we HAVE to do it so she will feel good, administer the dose and hug her and say "I know it hurts, but you did a good job!".
Being a part of our kids pain is a hard part of parenting, but your daughter will not hold it against you. Hang in there!

Hello, I couldn't get my son to take antibiotics either. He started to take it once we made it a game where he got to drink it out of the small medicine measuring cups that come with liquid Tylenol. I would fill mine with a similar looking drink and he would get the antibiotic. Then we would have a race to see who could finish first. It might work if you have your older child do it with her. Good luck!

Ugh! I feel your pain!! What finally worked with my daughter when she was that age is that I used to crush up a popsicle in a small bowl and tell her it was a slushie... something special that she can have - and I hid the medicine in there. Not sure it will work, but maybe it would go down quicker than ice cream since it's practically a liquid. When she was older I could hide it in a small amount of cranberry juice and then we'd sit at the table and every time she took a sip and showed me that it was almost gone I made a HUGE deal about it - like "No WAY!! I can't believe you drank that much!" "You can't finish all of that drink.... etc." Reverse psychology. Good luck - hope she feels better soon!

My daughter is 12 yrs. old now and has never been on an antibiotic. I used homeopathic medicine. It works great!
Most ear infections do not need an antibiotic. What's misleading is that the antibiotic takes away the pain. The pain goes away on it's own after a few days anyway. A healthy child will fight the infection on it's own. The antibiotic only encourages the infection to come back again sooner too. Notice how children get "re-occurring" ear infections on antibiotics. It does not allow the body to build up it's own immunity against the virus. It's been a long time and I forget the exact products, but you can go to Natures Whole Foods market and ask what they have. Try it for at least 3 days. Bring her back to the doctor if you don't see signs of her getting more comfort. Even if you put her on an antibiotic, you'd have 3 days of discomfort anyway. If she is in much less pain, don't let them give her an antibiotic.

I was sceptical at first too and took the prescription from the doctor....but waited 3 days to fill it if I chose. I never did fill it. Ask your doctor if you can wait 3 days to see how she does. My doctor was always OK with it. Warm face clothes work well too for the pain.
Good Luck!

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