23 answers

Can't Get 10 Month Old to Swallow Antibiotics - Help!

My 10 month old daughter has had an ear infection for 6 weeks. We try to go to antibiotics as a last resort, and feel that is the only option left. We don't want to cause permanent damage to her ear. My problem is that she will not swallow anywhere near the full dose she is supposed to take. She clamps her mouth shut and spits out anything I manage to get in. I've tried blowing in her face (apparently that is supposed to make them swallow), forcing her mouth open, squirting it in her cheek, mixing it with her food. Nothing is working. Any ideas?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Ask for pills instead... then crush and put in applesauce, pudding... something that is a special treat (icecream?). Even the added flavoring doesn't always cover up the taste of a liquid antibiotic. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Try rubbing/tickling her throat downward in the area of the adam's apple (I realize she doesn't have one.) at the same time you put the medicine in her mouth. This rubbing causes most babies to swallow automatically. I found a syringe from the pharmacy to be the best delivery method for this. You can put in partical quantities that she can manage to swallow.

Another option . . . I have seen a pacifer-looking item for delivering the medication. She might be willing to suck it out of that.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hi B.,

While I worked at Walgreen's, they had a video station set up nearby where I worked in which a physician and a walgreen's pharmacist discussed various medications and safe dosages. Beings that I worked in the front, and the video was less than 10 feet away from me, I got to listen to the whole video in its' entirety, over and over and over again.

This physician noted that infant/children medications were more concentrated just for the fact that it's sometimes harder to get children to take the medication. She pointed out that even if you don't think your child is getting enough medication, that they probably are, just because of the high concentration of the dose.

Some suggestions you can try for getting your baby to take more of her medication: I noticed you said you have squirted it at her cheek. That is a good way to get the medicine in there, but try not squirting it all at once(if you haven't already tried this), but instead, small, quick squirts instead of one longer fast one.

Another one you can try is getting the medication flavored, if the doctor or pharmacist doesn't recommend against it. Some medicines can lose efficacy if they are flavored, so ask the pharmacist or doctor if it's okay to flavor it.

I don't know which foods you've tried, but yogurt, pudding or applesauce might make it more appealing to her. Also, a little bit of juice, almost like a tiny shot with the medicine might help. You should also ask the doctor or pharmacist if any of the foods you're trying to get her to take it with will reduce how effective the medicine is.

If all else fails, ask the doctor for suggestions on what else you can do to get her to take it.

My youngest(9 yo) was hell on wheels when it came to taking medication, and like you, I tried every trick in the book. The small quirts in cheek seemed to be the best until she grew out of the liquid meds option, and then I had to deal with her making herself throw up whenever medicine went in her mouth. She finally outgrew the voluntary gag reflex last year. Sometimes, medicating children a real problem.

Best of luck to you and your little one. Honestly, I know how hard it can be when they're sick and suffering, and then to add a medicine battle on top of it. Ya wanna cry for more reasons than one.

K. W

P.S. One more thing I want to suggest: try to be as calm and relaxed as possible when you approach her with the medicine, and while giving it to her, even if it's a struggle. She'll be able to sense how uptight/nervous/anxious you are, and it will add to her stress. If you just can't get her to take it, then stop trying for a little bit, and try again. Maybe get her engaged in some kind of happy play for awhile before it's time to take her medicine--might help.

One more P.S. Don't blow in her face trying to get her to take it. She might inhale quickly and it might go down the wrong "pipe" thus causing her to choke on the medicine.

3 moms found this helpful

I suggest "letting" her make the decision of when to take it. Tell her she can take the medicine now or when the timer rings. It's so easy for giving medicine to become a power struggle.

Have you tried, with her out of the room, putting it in a flavored drink such as Pedia electrolytes or a juice? I know it tastes awful but I think diluting it might help. She can chug it down from a bottle.

When my granddaughter was in the ER because of an asthma attack the nurse was firm and fast. She lay her down, opened her mouth by pushing on the sides and pushed it in as fast as the syringe would go. Since she was lying down she had to swallow it. And the nurse was so quick she was taken off guard. Of course she cried afterwards and I held and soothed her. My daughter and I used that technique several times with my grandchildren. Sometimes it's not pleasant but it is necessary to get the anti-biotics down. Your daughter won't be as surprised the next time but if one person firmly holds her while the other shoots in the medicine it should work.

My first thought was how cruel this is. My second was how cruel to let her continue to be ill because I didn't want to hurt her feelings; take away her sense of control. Huh!? 10 month old babies have very little control so why should we give them control over something as important as taking medicine. If a baby were reaching for a sharp knife on the table we'd grab it away and she would cry. So do we let her have the knife?

Why do you wait to give anti-biotics as a last resort? The bacteria has multipled over the 6 weeks increasing the amount of infection which makes it more difficult to get rid of it. While the bacteria is multiplying it is attacking your daughter's ear. The anti-biotics do not damage her ear. Does your pediatrician agree that you should wait that long?

2 moms found this helpful

Ask for pills instead... then crush and put in applesauce, pudding... something that is a special treat (icecream?). Even the added flavoring doesn't always cover up the taste of a liquid antibiotic. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

We would make our son a bottle of warm milk, add chocolate syrup and the medicine, shake. Down the hatch. The chocolate covered up the flavor of the medicine, and when he finished the bottle I knew he'd had his dose and would set the next one from then.

While sure, I THEORETICALLY don't approve of giving infants chocolates and candy on a regular basis, in practice: the two weeks worth of antibiotics was WAY more important then an added 100 empty calories a day in his diet.


(sorry if this is anoying, or if you already know it! There are just too many microbiologists and docs in my family... It just leaps out of my mouth on the off chance someone, somewhere might not know;)

The single MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT ANTIBIOTICS IS TO FINISH THE COURSE. You daughters immune system gets the antibodies no matter what, but if you don't finish the course you're creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria...which is the main reason antibiotics aren't prescribed as often as they could/should be. People start feeling better and stop taking them, or "save them for next time".

1 mom found this helpful

You might try to call your pharmacy and if they could change the flavor of the antibiotic. I know it sounds crazy, but she might just absolutely hate it. Many pharmacies will do this; it may mean a phone call to the doctor's office to re-prescribe, but I have a feeling this isn't an uncommon request for pediatricians. I know that antibiotics can be flavored bubble-gum or banana, and there may be some others out there. It's worth a try.

If you can get the meds in tablets, using a mortar and pestle to finely grind it up and adding it to yogurt or the like is a great idea.

Just for what it's worth, I wouldn't link taking medicine to a separate treat, be it food or video or a special toy. She obviously has a reason she doesn't like taking the medicine, and punishing her by not letting her have the "something else" (which is also very confusing to an extremely young child) will only add to both your and her frustration. 10 month olds are not old enough to understand this kind of "consequence". I would rather take my son in for injections if need be than set our relationship up for power struggles. They only lead to anger, distrust and resentment. No one likes to be coerced. That's just my two bits.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi B.-

My 8 month old takes medicine twice a day for reflux, and it started out really really difficult with the same thing you are experiencing with spitting it out, clamping mouth, etc. What finally helped with her is I started letter her play with the syringe before and after giving meds to get her to not hate the syringe. Sometimes it also helps to squirt it at the roof of her mouth because then it goes right to the back of her throat. I've also done the football hold someone mentioned, but now I just lay her on the ground on her back. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

First - talk to your pharmacist about the issue--- there are SO manydifferent flavors- ( and I'm sure you've talked to your doctor- or the nurse --- .

Second- have someone else give her the medicine- she has her reaction to you down pat---

Third - is there a toy or a tv show or - something that she really likes ??? --- wait until the '''' oh, goody''' (whatever it might be) is about to start- or is on the floor- and ssay very calmly - ''' first swallow- then 'wiggles'' -- So you say - VERY calmly and matter of factly- ''as soon as you swallow your medicine you will be ready to
- go out and take a walk
watch the Wiggles
play with ----'''

Oh, not swallow?? too bad- you're not ready -.

( now, the down side is if she continues to refuse - she really mustn't be given the '''treat''' you were tempting her with - and that will really set up a tantrum-- but you need to win this time---'''' You ready for Wiggles?? - good, swallow medicine - then Wiggles'''. And if she refuses- the tv is off- or the door is closed- or - )


1 mom found this helpful

Not sure what antibiotic she's on, but if your not using the higher strength, talk to your pediatrician and ask them. The higher strength requires a smaller dose hence better odds of her getting enough even if she spits some out. a little is better than none. They also have injectables if she won't swallow a shot maybe the next best thing, they also have ear drops that have antibiotics in them. Either case your doctor would know best and 6 weeks is a long time.

1 mom found this helpful

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