Thursday, August 30, 2012

Medicine: It’s all in how you sell it

My 15-month-old baby girl hates taking medicine. So of course, Nick and I dread giving it to her.

We’ve tried every which way of delivering the medicine – from squirting it in her mouth with a plastic baby syringe to mixing it with milk to pouring it in her mouth straight from the little measuring cup. Each method has it’s issues. With the syringe, watch out. You may get half of the medicine right in your face. The bottle? Well, babies don’t always finish bottles…so then how do you know how much medicine she took? The measuring cup…similar to the syringe, except the medicine goes down her shirt or on the furniture instead of in mommy’s face.

We also tried those special pacifiers with the tiny little measuring cup attached. One problem: Ava doesn’t take a paci. Combine that with her not liking the taste of the medicine, and that option was a loser.

Thankfully, Ava has largely been healthy for the last several months – with not so much as a sniffle. So we got a bit of a break from the medicine-taking. Then last week, she started getting her molars, and she’s been having some trouble falling asleep. I talked to the doctor’s office and they said I could give her some Tylenol to take the edge off the pain. (Interestingly, my doctor’s office does not recommend topical medicines for teething infants and toddlers.)

So, this time, mommy got a little creative. Here was my strategy:
1.    Don’t act like it’s medicine. Act like it’s a special, special treat.
2.    Make it look special. What I did was to tie a red bow around the medicine pacifier – and I told Ava it was a special, tiny bottle.
3.    Wait until she’s hungry. Things always taste better when you’re tummy is empty, yes?
4.    Tell her (and reinforce) that it’s special and make it a special time. I held Ava in my lap and told her mommy would be so happy if she drank this special treat. Then after every sip, I clapped and smiled and made a big deal about it.

The verdict? It worked like a charm.

When she finished, Ava held up the pacifier and signed for more.

Rachel Raya is director of Internal Stakeholder Communications for Texas Health Resources and medicine administrator extraordinaire.

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