My sons is on this horrible tasting medicine. He hates taking it. We have tried mixing it with ice cream, apple sauce, and milk. He then refuses to eat/drink that. It ends up I have to wrestle with him and force it down. Once he threw it right back up. Other suggestions of how to get him to take it. It is flavored, it is just horrible. I feel so badly for him and give him lots of snuggles and love afterward and let him know I understand but I have to make him take it. What do I do?

  • We usually provide a 'chaser' when they take nasty medicine. Some apple juice or lemonade or something.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 17:12
  • Is this a liquid or tablet?
    – Paul Cline
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:59
  • How old is your son?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


I'd try something with a strong flavor that he likes. Ice cream, milk, apple sauce, etc. are all pretty bland when compared to strong flavors. Milk-based products (and bread) may help as chasers, though, as I've found them to be pretty good at palate cleansing (they're particularly useful for spicy stuff, but they generally help with other things in my experience). Things I might try, depending on his age:

  • salsa (mild black bean and corn has good flavor without much spice)
  • barbecue sauce (my 19 month old loves barbecue)
  • flavored chips (Doritos, barbecue, sour cream and onion, cheddar and sour cream...)
  • lemonade
  • pop (preferably caffeine free, particularly if it's taken near bedtime, and probably not the best idea on the list anyway)
  • tomato-based pasta (spaghetti, lasagna, etc.)

The idea here is to hopefully find something that overpowers or at least minimizes the flavor of the medicine. Obviously some of these are less appropriate than others (particularly pop), but given it's a non-regular thing, I'd personally be willing to be a little flexible.


Have you tried using a dropper? It helps by getting the medicine past the tongue. It takes a little longer but we have had far more success with droppers than cups.

What follows is not a quick fix but rather a long term suggestion.

I find that the most important aspect of giving medicine to both pets & kids is in the approach. If you approach the medicine with fear and reluctance it's clear to animal and child alike. I've watched parents hold their kids mouths open so they could poor the medicine down. What is usually clear to me, and probably their kid, is that the parent has assumed from the outset that they would have to force the medicine down. They essentially set themselves up to fail.

I actually learned this with a cat years ago. My girlfriend's cat was on some medicine and my girlfriend was having a nightmare of a time trying to get her to take it. Her approach was to pick up the cat and force the dropper into it's mouth and try to squeeze the medicine out quickly and perhaps try to hold the cat's mouth closed. The cat would of course spit out the dropper and they would wrestle a bit leaving half the dose on the floor and my girlfriend's arm all scratched up.

One day I volunteered to give the medicine and after she was finished staring at me in stunned confusion she handed over the medicine. I then gently picked up the cat and offered the dropper to her. I let her smell the end and gently squeezed a bit of medicine out. She licked it, liked it and continued to lick. I then slowly squeezed out the rest of the dose and she took it happily.

Obviously this became the method we used going forward and it got to the point where the cat would seek out the bottle of medicine and when she found it start meowing. I'm not going to take credit for her liking the medicine as I'm certain this was because she seemed to get inebriated on it. I will take credit, however, for her discovering that the medicine could be a good thing and I have taken the same approach with my four year old son.

When he was young and desperately ill I would gently offer him medicine as a way of alleviating the symptoms.

Do you want some of this? It will help you feel better.

I would then take a dropper of something like Tylenol or gripe water and slowly squeeze the medicine into his mouth. I have a deep distrust of flavored and colored medicine so trust me when I say it did not taste good. I've tried it. Sometimes he said yes and sometimes he said no but gradually he learned to trust me and started happily sucking it down or even asking for it. Here is where the placebo effect took hold. Me simply telling him that it would make him feel better was at times, I suspect, more effective than the medicine itself. This, in turn, lead to a positive feedback loop and we have no reached the point where he trusts that when I offer medicine it will help.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .