I needed a solution to the problem of how to get a baby with a cold to take medicine. We came up with something that worked really well for us that we call the gentle leverage technique.
Most importantly we made sure that we very carefully explained all about medicine and what it does and why we have to take it. We didn’t want to create any fear about it. We told her that the Doctor said that she had a baby cold and cough and that you have to take the medicine to make you feel better.
The first time we tried to get the baby cold medicine in her mouth she spat it out straight away. Even though it was a fairly bland tasting kind of gel the fact that she didn’t see it coming probably freaked her out more than the actual taste.
I just kind of snuck up on her while Mum was changing her and I shoved the little plastic syringe in her mouth and squirted in as much as I could. Not one of my greatest ideas. She spat it all right back at me and then looked at me as if to say, “What the..?” Not a good start.
After that she struggled and squirmed, cried and screamed and in the end we gave up. Things were not going as planned. We would need to re-group and consider another strategy and start again tomorrow morning.
We discussed the option of forcing her. Yep, that’s right. Holding her down and forcing the baby cold medicine in her mouth and then holding her nose until she swallows it. I was starting to get quite uncomfortable with where this was heading.
Not only did it feel violent and abusive but I am sure we were starting to create issues not only around medicine taking that would come back to bite us in the future. There had to be a better way.
What we needed was some bargaining power. Some way to make her drink it voluntarily. What is it that she really wants to do and how can we swap that activity for a dose of baby cold medicine?
Let’s face it, you have no bargaining power just before bed. I mean what can you say? OK Johnny, if you don’t drink your medicine you can’t go to bed. “No problems Dad I really wanted to go to bed anyway so I’d be happy to take your stinky medicine.” I don’t think so.
We wanted to be careful not to give her a treat as a reward. Three treats a day for ten days is way too many in my book and besides treats are for exemplary behaviour not everyday activities.
The only thing we could think of was not letting her get out of bed. Every morning she calls out and one of us will go and get her out of bed. If we tell her that she can’t get out of bed until she has her medicine then maybe we have a chance. She really wants to get out of bed.
The next morning I went in to get her out of bed with a loaded plastic syringe in hand.
“Good morning sweetheart”
“Morning Dadda” she says” Uppy.”
“We have to have our medicine before we get uppy don’t we?”
“No. No like med-cin.”
“The Doctor says we have to take it honey.”
“Well we can’t get up until we have it”
“OK then, Daddy will just have to wait here until you are ready.” I pulled up a chair and proceeded to get comfortable. This could take a while.
She looked at me for a few seconds just to see if I was serious before leaning over and opening her mouth. I squirted the required dose in and she swallowed it all without a fuss.
This worked in the same way again after her midday nap and in the evening before bed we swapped medicine taking for watching her favourite 5 minute cartoon. She had already had the medicine twice that day and quickly realized that it wasn’t nearly as bad as missing Dorothy the Dinosaur.
After that it was smooth sailing. She knew that she wasn’t getting out of bed or watching Dorothy until her dose of baby cold medicine was complete so she complied. I know that it all sounds way too easy (we were surprised ourselves) but that is exactly how it happened. I can’t tell you how glad I was that we didn’t have to force her.