How to Give Medicine to a Baby

Dr. Agnes Scoville, MD, is a mom, a doctor, a veteran, and creator of Pacidose. Here is a guide to safely and accurately give your child medication

How to give Medicine to a baby

Giving liquid medicine to an infant can be very frustrating.  If you are having difficulty with this, you are not alone!  Many medical studies show that babies frequently get the wrong dose of medicine, in part because they spit it out.  This article will give some helpful hints and other general information about medication safety and will show you that there’s a new way to get the medicine to go down, fuss free, with Pacidose.

What is the best way to measure the right dose of medicine for my child? 

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) both recommend that liquid medicine for babies be given in milliliters only.  Use a standard oral syringe to measure the medicine.  Teaspoons and tablespoons are confusing and inaccurate.  The syringe on Pacidose has one side for milliliters (mL) and the other side for teaspoons (tsp) because some doctors still use teaspoons.

Avoid transferring medicine between devices because some will be lost in the process.  That’s why an oral syringe plugs directly into Pacidose—no transferring.  Also, other standard syringes from pharmacies should fit in the same connector.  The Pacidose syringe is 5 milliliters (5 mL).  A 10 mL syringe will also fit, so if you have an older child that needs more than 5 mL in a single dose, you can ask for that in a pharmacy or from your doctor.  You can also ask your doctor if the medication comes in a higher concentration so the volume you give is less.

Always measure twice.  After you draw up the medicine, check the measurement again. Apply a piece of tape to the outside of the syringe to help you remember the exact dose. This makes measuring really easy in the middle of the night.

Now attach the oral syringe to Pacidose.  You are ready to give medicine to your infant the easy way.

If you do not have Pacidose, you can try to put the medicine in the side of your baby’s mouth, but the taste will be strong and he or she might spit the medicine right back out.

How else can I get my baby to take the medicine without a fight?

Give the medication when your child is hungry.  And remove any distractions from the room.  Sit down in a chair and hold your baby so you can easily introduce Pacidose.  If you are relaxed your baby will be relaxed.

What if my baby won’t use a Pacifier?

If your baby does not use a pacifier, introduce Pacidose by loading the syringe with something familiar to your baby first.  Let him or her drink the familiar liquid first, and get used to it.  When comfortable with that liquid then load Pacidose with the medicine.  Pacidose is still easier than a hard syringe!

Why can’t I just put the medicine in my baby bottle?

Here’s the problem.  What if your baby then doesn’t drink the whole bottle?  Then you still have the same issue:  you don’t know how much your baby got because it’s now diluted with other liquid.

What if I ask the pharmacist to flavor the medicine for my baby?

Flavors work for some babies, but not all.  And, if you’ve ever tasted them, you’ll agree it’s still not easy to get it down.  Also, some flavoring agents contain dyes and other chemical agents.

Are there other ways to disguise the taste of medicine for my child?

Sure, you can do a few other things.  Give you baby a Popsicle before the medicine to numb the taste buds.  The same goes for the medicine.  Put the medication in the refrigerator.  Cold liquids don’t taste as strong.

Pacidose bypasses most of the taste buds and places the medicine on the back of the tongue.  So you can chill the meds, chill the mouth and use Pacidose for a triple whammy to minimize rejection.

What if my baby spits up even something easy like Tylenol?

Try all the techniques above.  If your baby has actually swallowed the medicine and is vomiting it back up, it becomes a little trickier.  Most liquid is absorbed from the stomach in about an hour.  If that time has past your child likely retained the full dose.  If less time has passed, call your doctor to determine a re-dosing schedule or ask for a suppository.

How to give medicine to a toddler?

Older kids can sometimes be harder to medicate than infants because they are stronger and want more control.  A toddler who refuses medicine can be a real challenge.

You can do three things.  First, tell them the truth: they need the medicine if they want to feel better.   And it may not taste good, but they need to take it.  Once a child is about 3, he or she can understand logic so this sometimes works.  You can also play the grown up card. “Being a grown up boy or girl means you have to do things sometimes that are hard.”  Third, give a little control.  Your toddler can choose when to take it, (before or after bath time) or choose which liquid to drink after the dose.  You can offer milk or juice in Pacidose or from a cup as a chaser.  Or a palate cleanser, as I liked to call it.

Are there any other tricks to help my older child take medicine?

Don’t forget the Oscar awards.  Your child can play the doctor and give a stuffed animal the “medicine” (water).  You can help your child draw up the liquid and give it to a stuffed animal.   Miraculously the stuffed animal will dance around with joyful health.

What about over the counter medicine for cold and flu to my baby?

Avoid over the counter medicines for your young child.  Many studies show that cold medications for kids under 6 are not helpful and may be harmful.  You should check with your doctor for any medications that are not specifically recommended.  A better way to treat runny nose, cough, and congestion is lots of TLC, fluids, rest and room humidifiers.

Lastly, it goes without saying, but I will say it.  Keep all medicines and nonfood items out of reach of your kids.  Be smart with you little ones.

 

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Why RIE?

A guest post by Betsy Smith

Betsy blogs about respectful parenting and homeschooling her two children (ages 2.5 and 4) at www.bugandbabygirl.com and chronicles some of their many adventures on Instagram at @bug.and.babygirl

Before I had ever heard of Magda Gerber or Janet Lansbury, my son demanded to be a RIE baby.

No one told me to expect a baby who was so decidedly his own person. But, from the day he was born, it was undeniable that my son had his own ideas and preferences, his own likes and dislikes… which, as a scared and exhausted first time mom, seemed to boil down to disliking everything and liking to cry any time he was awake! But the more I paid attention, the more I noticed he was consistently calmed by being laid down on his back to wiggle and look around, by being spoken to conversationally about what we were doing, and simply by being outside. He didn’t want to sit in a swing. He didn’t want gadgets, gizmos, and entertainment; he wanted connection, respect, and freedom.

He wanted this crazy, new world to slow down long enough for him to take it all in. He wanted me to stop worrying about what I was supposed to do with a baby all day and just put him on a blanket beneath a tree so he could gnaw on his hands and watch the light peeking through the leaves.

It went against everything I had been taught about parenting, but I started to listen. I started to do less and trust more. I started to follow rather than blindly lead.

When I discovered RIE, shortly before my son’s first birthday, I wanted to exclaim, “This is it!! This is what you’ve been trying to tell me!” It was so affirming to find an entire philosophy that supported the choices that he had pointed me toward. And the discovery couldn’t have come at a better time: right at the onset of the toddler stage, when the RIE emphasis on consistent, respectful limit setting has transformed a notoriously “terrible” phase of development into one that I absolutely delight in, and in advance of the arrival of my second, allowing me to implement the fundamentals of RIE from birth with her.

There are plenty of sources for a more informed and articulate overview of the principles of RIE than I could provide, so rather than fumble through an amateur answer to the question, “What is RIE?,”  I would rather tell you why RIEwhat about this style resonated with me as a first — and then a second — time mom and why it has worked so well for our family.

1. The notion that babies are whole people

I once had a woman, toting an infant carseat, chase me down in the parking lot of Target and say, “I just wanted to tell you that I love how you talk to your kids like people.” I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but the frequency with which strangers feel compelled to comment on how I speak to my children “like people” makes me want to ask, “How else I would talk to them?!”

It has made me realize how countercultural this perspective I’ve come to take for granted – that babies are people – truly is. In the mainstream parenting world, we refer to our babies as “blobs.” We give them kisses that they pull away from. We swoop in and pick them up when they are intently focused on something, without a word and without the slightest reservation about what we might be interrupting. We talk about them (and even about older children) in front of them as if they aren’t there. We dismiss their feelings and their ideas. In those, and countless other ways, we treat babies like we would never treat other people. Certainly not people we respect or care for.

2. The belief that children – even babies – deserve respect 

At my baby shower, I was given a pacifier that said NO WHINING. The uproar of laughter it elicited from the group made me uncomfortable in a way that I wasn’t yet able to put my finger on.

That feeling was my gateway to RIE; that nagging sense that this baby deserved more respect than our culture had tried to make me believe.

I do my damnedest to treat everyone I encounter with respect. Why wouldn’t I treat my own child that way?

It isn’t as if it’s terribly radical. It simply means that I speak to and with my children rather than at and about them. I acknowledge their feelings and preferences (even when I can’t or won’t accommodate them). I do my best leave them undisturbed when they are focused on an activity. I say “please” and “thank you.” I give them the benefit of the doubt. And, in general, I treat them how I would like to be treated.

3. The reminder to trust 

This is a scary one… or at least it can be for me! Parenting has become as competitive as anything else in our culture and it is hard to ignore the “earlier is better” messages that we are bombarded with at every turn, to let go of the temptation to compare our babies to others, and, instead, just trust. Trust that they are capable; that they know themselves; and that they will walk, talk, and learn their ABCs when they are ready.

We have convinced ourselves that our babies can learn only what we teach, ignoring completely the curiosity, ability, and drive to make sense of the world that they all come to us with. Trust asks us to give that back to them, to let go of the race to be first, to take a backseat and wait for them to show us what they are working on and what, if any, support they need.

4. The view of children as capable 

At our old house, we had a steep driveway that my son would run up and down nearly as soon as he could walk. Neighbors used to marvel at his balance and coordination, asking how I taught him to navigate the incline.

I didn’t teach him, I told them. I just let him do it.

We do our children a disservice when we default to assuming they can’t do things, or that they can only do them with our help. Children are capable of so much when they’re given opportunities to try…and opportunities to try again when they don’t get it “right” the first time!

My children are confident that they have the ability to master new skills because their experience and my attitude have affirmed that. They are also extraordinary helpers because I’ve never questioned whether they are capable of putting their own clothes in the hamper, cleaning up toys, carrying in groceries, or wiping up spills!

5. The role of limit setting 

There is a common misconception that respectful parenting is permissive. It isn’t. I would go as far as to argue that permissive parenting is disrespectful because it ignores a child’s desire (or, frankly, his need) to make sense of the world around him, something that becomes nearly impossible without predictability and limits.

The way this looks different in RIE than it does in mainstream parenting is that I don’t just set limits and expect my children to follow them. I set limits and I take on the responsibility of enforcing them. This allows me to hold limits from a place or guidance rather than one of judgment, frustration, or anger. This also means that, when a limit isn’t followed, I don’t heap blame on my child; I examine what I could be doing differently to better support and set him up for success.

It means, instead of saying, “Don’t you dare throw that ball in the house,” and then doling out a punishment when my toddler can’t stop himself, saying, “I can’t let you throw the ball inside,” then actually not letting him by calmly taking the ball and, whenever possible, honoring the impulse with, “Let’s go play ball in the yard.”

6. The value placed on observation 

There seems to be this expectation that mothers will instantly “know” our children when they are born; who they are, what they need, and how best to love them. That is a charming idea, I suppose, except that I don’t think I truly know anything that I haven’t taken the time to study. When I care about something, I want to learn everything I can. And that doesn’t happen by magic; it happens by asking questions, listening, and observing.

Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that tell us what most babies are like. But I’m not the mother of most babies. I am the mother of two. And the only way to learn who these two people are is to go to the source.

7. The space for natural gross motor development

Demanding ownership of his gross motor development by refusing to be propped, sat, and walked is probably the way that my son most clearly pointed me to RIE.

Even at five and six months, when so many babies love being propped up to sit, he would immediately throw himself back down and get up on his hands and knees. He had been “ahead” on every other milestone and (what felt like) the whole world seemed worried that he wasn’t sitting. Our pediatrician was adamant that I “teach” him but, even before discovering RIE, I didn’t feel right putting him in a position he so forcefully rejected, so I shrugged my shoulders and told her he seemed more interested in figuring out how to crawl.

And, sure enough, he sat up completely on his own within days of crawling…just like his baby sister did a year and a half later.

Once he could stand and cruise, well-meaning family and friends tried to take him by the hands and walk him but, every time, my RIE-hearted baby withdrew his hands. When they persisted, he sat, insisting in the only way he knew how that he would do it himself when he was ready…which, of course, he did.

After having that experience with my son and after trusting my second, from birth, to own her gross motor development, nothing seems more natural. Why on earth wouldn’t we trust our babies to know what their bodies are ready to do? Why wouldn’t we give them the confidence that comes from discovering, not only that they can sit, crawl, stand, and walk, but that they can do it on their own?

8. The importance of independent play 
This can be a particularly difficult idea for parents to wrap their heads around. We are told that we have to entertain our babies, that we have to stimulate their brains at all times, that boredom is a danger and stillness is the enemy of development. The notion that you would just lay a baby down on a blanket with one or two simple toys and say, “I’ll be right in the kitchen if you need me,” feels tantamount to saying, “I don’t care about my child’s development.”

But it simply isn’t the case!

I have been amazed at how they will entertain themselves, and would even as babies. Allowing them to play independently isn’t just not neglecting them; it’s actually serving them in so many ways. It communicates that their ideas and their pursuits are important and worthy if time. It allows them to focus on a task without distractions. It affirms that I see them as capable individuals.

9. The ability to be an ally 

This is not strictly one of the tenets of RIE, but has been a byproduct of the philosophy for our family. Instead of feeling like I am at odds with my children, with our desires or agendas in opposition, the foundation of trust and respect that our relationship is built upon allows me to be on their team even when we disagree. It allows me to discipline from a place of compassion and connection. I take seriously my responsibility to guide and teach my children, and RIE has made it possible for me to do those things as their ally rather than their adversary.

RIE has been a gift to our family in so many way, but this one is, perhaps, the greatest.

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The Meaning of Father’s Day!

With Father’s Day around the corner we asked one of our dad friends to share what Father’s Day means to him. Our guest, Cole Johnson is a father of seven sweet children and husband to his high school sweetheart, Daisha, whom he has been married to for 15 years.  Cole loves playing ukulele with his eldest daughter, coaching his son’s football team and taking his youngest on walks to find bugs.  Here are his thoughts on the meaning of Father’s Day!

Father’s Day was never a big deal to me and I never really appreciated it until one stressful weekend when I was traveling and couldn’t be with my family. My wife and kids had never done much for me on Father’s Day – a finger-painting of me, a cheap tie, maybe some pancakes and a card – so I didn’t think I would miss it much.  But when the day came and went without any new socks, a homemade oven mitt, or even a quick and sticky hug from one of my littles… I about died from loneliness.

As I sat lumped upon the hotel bed watching an infomercial and thinking about my wife and kids a profound gloominess began to overtake me.  At that point I recognized Father’s Day for what it was. A day I was thanked, a day to be seen, a day to be filled up. As a self-proclaimed emotionally unflappable man I recognized that I wasn’t  immune to the severe need to be loved and appreciated or to have a special day set apart just for me. Like my wife and children I wanted – nay, REQUIRED – an occasional reminder that I’m missed, respected, and even adored. The love I’d felt on previous Father’s Days was the oil that kept my Dad-mobile running smoothly. A vehicle that requires very little maintenance and runs on just a few drops of gratitude and affection.

For dads, the little things ARE the big things. There may not be any ‘big things’ for fathers; kids can’t further their dad’s career, make the car payment, or even fix the dishwasher. But, on Father’s Day, our children have the perfect opportunity to thank us for what we do and love us for how we do them.  Those homemade clay mugs and handprint collages may be the only tokens of the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘why’ we work so hard in our career, make the car payment, and fiddle with the appliances.

For Father’s Day this year I couldn’t be more excited to eat an over-cooked omelet, or try to decipher a messy crayon drawing, and maybe get a some snuggles from a quiver of stinky kids. Not because those things are a big deal but because these tiny acts are the ONLY deal.  Father’s Day is my kids’ day once a year to thank me, fill my tank, and keep me going for 364 more. I learned my lesson and will never be away from my family again on Father’s Day weekend!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the very special dads who make life a little sweeter.

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