No one wants to have to give their baby medicines but unfortunately most parents come across a time when there is little choice. This could be for something as simple as giving a multivitamin syrup to administering medicines for pain relief, a high temperature, and even infection control. In fact with the inclusion of Men B on the vaccination schedule for the past couple of years it is inevitable that your baby will need a dose of Calpol as it is recommended alongside that vaccination. No matter what the problem is you will be in a position of wondering how on earth you are meant to give it to them!
First I will explain how to give liquid medicines to a baby and then I will discuss why giving it to the side of their mouths beside their cheek is so important.
How to give liquid medicines to a baby
To administer oral liquid medication such as liquid paracetamol (e.g. Calpol) or ibuprofen (e.g. nurofen) try the following technique.
- Read the bottle’s packaging fully and ensure the medication you are administering is the correct medicine, the correct strength for your baby,in the correct amount and at the recommended time intervals. Never give medication unless you are sure of what you are doing and if in any doubt contact me, your local pharmacist, or another healthcare practitioner. If you accidentally give too much medication to your child contact the National Poisons Information Centre or contact your doctor or emergency out of hours services as soon as you can.
- Wash your hands in hot and soapy water. Measure the recommended dose using an oral syringe or other provided measure device. Get a double check of this if you have someone near by – It’s always good to be careful – especially when we are all so tired with young children!
How to use an oral syringe according to the NHS.
- Wash your hands.
- Make sure your child is sitting upright.
- Shake the medicine bottle unless stated otherwise on the label.
- Remove the top from the bottle and insert the bottle adapter if necessary.
- Insert the tip of the oral syringe into the bottle adapter.
- Turn the bottle upside down and pull the plunger until the medicine reaches the right dose.
- Gently remove the tip of the oral syringe from the bottle adapter.
- Put the top back on the bottle.
- Put the tip of the oral syringe inside your child’s mouth.
- Gently push the plunger to squirt small amounts of medicine into the side of your child’s mouth.
- Allow your child to swallow before continuing to push the plunger.
- Give your child a drink to wash down the medicine.
- When you have given the whole dose, wash the syringe in warm, soapy water unless directed otherwise on the label.
The importance of side administration
It is hugely important to give oral medicine in small amounts into the side of your child’s mouth. Giving large volumes of medicine or giving it to the centre of the mouth can cause problems for a few reasons. Firstly the gag reflex will be triggered which would not be pleasant for your baby. Secondly if medicine is squeezed towards the front or middle of their mouth they are a lot more likely to spit it out (intentionally and unintentionally!!). A baby has an extrusion reflex which is also known as the ‘tongue thrust reflex’ and this is a protective mechanism which helps to prevent them from choking. However when you are trying to give medicines this reflex can make things difficult, so by administering small amounts to the side of the mouth near the cheek you are bypassing this reflex which greatly increase the success rate! Remember if your baby spits out some medicine you have no idea how much they have taken or not taken and it is not safe to administer the dose again until the next due time in case they have swallowed a proportion.
There is no doubt that this is a tricky process with a wriggly or unwell baby in your arms. For this reason I was delighted to see a product in development which helps to make the process a lot simpler – it is called Medapti. A UK mum called Dora Dyk is behind the clever invention and hopes to launch it early 2020. It allows the simple administration of medicines to babies using an oral syringe with just one hand, leaving one arm finally free to hold the baby! It helps to prevent the baby spitting out medicine or hurting their gums on the oral syringe. Roll on 2020! I’ll keep you updated!
As always if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.