Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Getting Your Child to Take Medicine


Am Fam Physician. 2006 Sep 1;74(5):800.

  See related article on medication adherence in children.

What should I do if my child won’t take medicine?

There are many things you can do to make medicines taste better to your child. Put liquid medicines in the refrigerator before giving them to your child. If your child will not take a medicine because of the taste, it may be okay to mix the medicine with a small amount of liquid (like juice) or soft food (like pudding). Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your child’s medicine to see if this is okay. Some pharmacies have flavorings they can mix with liquid medicines before you take them home.

Explain to your child how medicine can help them stay healthy or make them feel better. Be sure to reward them for taking their medicine.

Things to remember when giving medicine to your child:

  • Shake liquid medicines before you measure them and give them to your child.

  • Because regular household spoons can vary in size, it is best to use a syringe or dropper made for giving liquid medicine. If you do not have one, ask your doctor or pharmacist for one.

  • If your child can’t swallow a pill, ask your doctor if the medicine comes in chewy tablets or in a liquid.

  • It is important that your child takes all of the medicine prescribed by the doctor.

Use this chart to remember important things about your child’s medicine:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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Jul 2021

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