How to Avoid a Gobfull of Calpol in the Face...and Other Useful Medication Administration Tricks #SpoonfulOfSugar

Well my weekend has been spent role playing (to my utter disgust) Frozen with First Born. Complete utter disgust as I am actually starting to like the film and I'm trying to convince myself it's just because I'm genuinely interested in the interior d├ęcor of Elsa's ice palace and her amazing Real Housewives style makeover as she goes all ice bitch (complete with sexy strut and possible boob job). It just hits my love of reality TV buttons.
First Born has taken to dressing up in dresses. Specifically the blue one. Just like Elsa. He looks very pretty in it, and the instructs me to role-play Frozen Scenes while he goes about his usual business - ramming cars off the table, scoffing kinder bars and torturing his brother. I admire his resolve to just wear a dress and get on with normal shit, like a true cross dresser.
However Bobcat (el bambino, second born), has been feeling crappy after his jabs, which means I'm now sporting a beard of generic Calpol equivalent (alongside my normal beard after tweezing neglect since Bobcat arrived) after being peppered with the babyspit laden sticky stuff.

So, if your kid is poorly and if you have kids like me, you have to outsmart the little unreasonable buggers into taking something to make them feel better. And then you inevitably then catch whatever illness they had a week afterwards, and come down all man-flu and ridden with guilt that maybe you should of given them a bit of paracetamol because actually it is a bit shit this feeling ill malarkey, then, also like me, you're going to have to dose them up and face the toddler/baby Calpol-in-face-fest, that is giving medication. Woah, that was a long sentence.

Now if you have little angel delights who just open wide and take a spoonful of meds, and don't claw their way over you to avoid a Doctor's stethoscope all sweaty and snotty, then good for you Glen Coco. But, for the rest if us, with sweaty flalling children doing the Twister dance to get then to take just drip of paracetamol without losing the vision in one eye from a that plastic double ended toepedo of spoon (quick random question: who else has a little cutlery tray section devoted to those little white spoons?) here are some tricks I've picked up along the way Doctomumming.


*Sarcasm Disclaimer - this article may be smothered in some dry wit, try not to slip on it.
**Medical Disclaimer - If your child is sick and you're worried about them - stop fannying about on the interwebs and go see an actual medical professional. Also go see my actual disclaimer (it took me two weeks to write the blinking thing while fending off a 2 year old, so its only fair you do).

Firstly, Super, most important tip: Always read your medication label to make sure the dose is correct and that you're not mixing it with something you shouldn't. I'm pretty sure yoghurt is inert enough (see tips below) to mix with most things but if unsure ask one of the munch bunch, failing that, as you inevitably will (they are fictional), your local friendly Pharmacist or Doc.

Trick #1: Lying

OK kids, its bad to lie, unless its coming from your parents and they are trying to conceal foul tasting Flucloxacillin or other such very useful but rank tasting medicines.
This is where you crack out your Mary Poppins side and think 'spoonful of Sugar'. But obvs don't actually give them a spoonful of sugar before I get attacked by Katie Hopkins for making the UK fat or dissolving children's teeth.

Top places to 'conceal': YOGHURT! Every parent knows this is the child equivalent of wine, they can't get enough of he stuff and like to kick back at the end of a hard day fighting over shit at preschool with a pot of yoggie yog yogs. You can either go classic and just pop a layer of yog over the spoon or mix it in a pot.

I met a fellow doctomum who squeezes paracetamol into a munch bunch squashum to keep her toddlers fever down - genius!  Though her 2 year old was always a bit confused why he would receive such a delicious sugary delight in the middle of the night.

And for the bambinos - If you haven't yet weaned, then I've found popping it in their milk and mixing well can help. Just be aware that that would be your only chance to get the med into them and if they don't finish the milk, don't be tempted to guestimate a top up dose. You'll just have to leave it until the next time you can give a dose. It probably isn't optimal dosing either as some will get stuck to the sides of the bottle but its better than nothing if they won't take it off the spoon.

Trick #2 Hold 'em

If you have a fly kicking, clamp mouth shut type child, then this tried and tested holding technique is for you. This technique never hurts the child and is the one most docs and nurses use to examine throats/ears/give meds. Do not feel guilty about doing it, you are doing it to help your child over the discomfort of illness (and your subsequent discomfort of non sleeping, clingy whinging child, so not totally altruistic).
It needs two people (there is always the one person technique that we all do, which uses your pre-kids yoga positions and gritted teeth, but this is not recommended, obviously, as since you've had kids you cannot control your pelvic floor in these positions and you do not want pee and sticky pink Calpol all over the sofa).

So, person 1 (the restrainer) sits down and has the kid in their lap with their back towards them. They then hold the child's legs between theirs and cross one arm over the child arms firmly, and one arm across their forehead, holding their head close to your chest, then use your third hand to uncork the wine for later. No, actually use that third hand to instruct your medicine giver (person 2) to tip the meds in their mouth whilst you gently tilt their head back.

Do it quickly, swiftly and with confidence. Practice on a teddy first (and look a bit of a knob), they key is in the confidence. All children smell fear and if given the chance they can wiggle their way out of this in a headjerking body spasm dance, and you will be left with a drool covered hand and bruised knackers if you assigned Daddy to do the holding.

Trick #3 More lies

Now once your child has reached the age of reasoning (also know as manipulation), you may be able to employ a little truth stretching. In our house paracetamol, vitamins, ibuprofen, any medicine is called 'sweeties on spoon'. This is because my toddlers main motivation is sugar. I am aware this will inevitably backfire on me.
Other more sensible lies could include calling it superhero juice, Thomas fuel etc.

NB: always keep your med stash out of reach of kids in a safe locked high up barricaded place. Think the Forte Knocks of medicine cabinets. Calpol et al is like crack to a toddler, they will stop at nothing to neck the whole bottle and those child proof caps are not always child proof (especially after you've been distracted not to tighten it properly by a toddler mounting you back in a bid for you to put beebies on and to stop dicking about on your iPhone). In essense no one wants a trip to A&E after an accidental overdose, or the blood tests or the IVs or the liver damage. Stay safe kids.

Trick #4: Tools

Squirty tools to be precise. Syringes are great as you can measure precisely too, but if you don't have these then use that helpful syringe from calpol...then buy the cheap paracetamol from then on (see next trick).

I find its best to squirt a little at a time into the inside of the cheek (don't squirt it into the back of their throat or they will gag, stupid. I say stupid, as I have done it in haste and it was stupid).

Trick #5: Be a cheapskate but not too cheap.

This is mainly a money saver against the big Calpol giant et al (soz Calpol, I love your squirty thingy, but you are ridic expensive and pink...not one wants pink sticky spat out drool on them, that crap stains). And I don't like the very clever advertising idea planted into the vulnerable sleep deprived parental that Calpol is not just paracetamol, its like the mecca of paractamols, the god of analgesics.

It's not, it is just paracetamol, OK it's pink paracetamol. But in med boffin terms, its mechanism of action is just the same as any other generic cheapo paracetamol.

Basically buy generic paracetamol - supermarkets or savers tend to do it at around £1.50/bottle. The taste of most of them is still the same even for the most picky kid and I think Boots even to a pink one, if the pink colour is a sticking point for your little one. Though I got some of the Galpharm brand ibuprofen sprayed in my face once and that tasted like earwax, so don't go too cheap. And always buy from a reputable retailer, I don't want to be seeing y'all on a Knock Off Britain special on fake meds.

NB: Feeling hypocritical for using Calpols name all over the shot now. Its just the most recognisable form of paractamol to most people and well, I'm just too lazy to keep typing paracetamol.

Trick #6 Puff of air

This is a tip I picked up from a nurse I worked with a few years back and is a trick to get them to gulp best in babies/small toddlers.
After you've given them the med, just blow in their face, gently, like a little puff of air. Initially this didn't work with my son, but did when he was having a teething hissy screaming crying fit about taking some paracetamol and a little puff of air in the face seems to stun them slightly, then they take a gulp - et voila, medication swallowed. So use this when they are crying, it seems to work best then. Evidently kids must have a similar physiology to cats, as I've also used this on our cat, Big Suze. worked a treat.

Trick #7 Talk to your local friendly Pharmacist

Obviously Mummy & Daddy, are not only emotionally & physically drained by this illness stuff of child rearing, they are also financially drained. Their local GP is also drained of time, funding and morale so why not go see you local pharmacist for advice about the simple stuff?
I only found this out through a Facebook post the other week (see even us Docs learn from social media) - there is this fabulous thing called the NHS minor ailment scheme where if after a chat to lovely Pharmacist they feel that your child needs some meds, they can give you certain meds for free under this scheme if you're entitled to free prescriptions, which of course all kids are.

I think this has been taken up by Boots and Lloyds but also check to see if your local independent does it.
Its well worth checking out as overall this scheme should help both you as the patient/parent and save the NHS money (as you skip out the GP step), so everyone's a winner (in theory).
Read more about the NHS minor ailment scheme here
Find a local pharmacy that runs the scheme here



Thanks for reading - please post your tips below or on whichever social media is your poison,
And go on, follow me (on social media, not around the house, I have a mini-me does that already. I'm sure you don't revel in watching me urinate as he does) and we can conquer the world, one toddler at a time.

I aim is to do one medical mum type blog post a week and random musings when I please, so pop by when you can to see them.

And checkout my about me (and all my poor grammar/spelling/attempt at wit)


  1. I think I'm in love with this post lol. Getting my son to take meds is hell on earth!! X

  2. Ha, glad I'm not the only one who struggles! Think of it this way, the harder they fight, probably the more intelligent they are. Well done you for raising such an intelligent boy!
    Thanks for reading x

  3. So, having come back to read more, I have discovered that this is clearly a newish blog. In which case, I am in awe of your technical brilliance as the site looks amazing! I also love this post. The description and accompanying diagrams reminded me of trying to deflea the cats, but hey - cats and kids are much the same, right?
    Looking forward to reading more of your downright fabulous blog posts.

  4. Too true - Cats & Kids share at least 98% of the same DNA (the hissing/spitting/clawing/wee in a box DNA).
    I bought this Blog template from Brand Me Beautiful (off the wonder that is Etsy), but I do take credit for cutting and pasting HTML code into some bits and swearing at the computer when doing so.
    I am totally new to this and am really grateful for the lovely comments. Am giving myself daily kicks up the bum to crack out the laptop.
    Love your Blog too Helena, and the name of it, still loving that name, genius.

    1. Ahh...thank you! It's definitely a challenge to find the time to write, post and read other blogs. I'm surprised I actually find the time to go to work (and the kids....must remember I am also supposed to look after the kids....)!

  5. Don't forget to make sure you fit in a glass of wine as well - don't worry about the kids, they look after themselves after 2 years old, don't they?!

  6. We've used the side of cheek and a puff in the face methods for our twins, they've worked a treat. We only discovered these when Ethan was in PICU, otherwise I'm sure we'd have been covered in pink goop.
    Great tips, which I'm sure will help many a parent

    1. It's a really good trick - glad it universally works! Nothing is worse than being in a sticky pink hell.

  7. OMG you want to have seen the battle between me and son this week getting medicine down him! The poor thing has had chickenpox but my God does he throw a paddy when you try to help him by tryna get Calpol down him (or Tescos own paracetamol because I too go for the cheap stuff!)
    Fab post added to #SundayShareFest, I hope you add your fave post by another blogger this week! x

    1. If only they knew it was to make them better! Unfortunately little people totally lack those reasoning skills but excel at paddy powers!
      I am totally sharefesting tomoz! x

  8. OMG you want to have seen the battle between me and son this week getting medicine down him! The poor thing has had chickenpox but my God does he throw a paddy when you try to help him by tryna get Calpol down him (or Tescos own paracetamol because I too go for the cheap stuff!)
    Fab post added to #SundayShareFest, I hope you add your fave post by another blogger this week! x