Dear Aunt Juniper,

My nineteen month old has been given antibiotics for a urine infection and is point blank refusing to let them anywhere near his mouth. I have tried bribery, threats, sweets (him), gin (me) and begging. It’s been hidden in yoghurt and force fed to him (he just threw the yoghurt and threw up the medicine).

How on earth do I get this stuff into his little poorly body without losing my mind or causing him grievous bodily harm?

Please help before I go private and get us both put on a drip: antibiotics (him) / gin (me).’

From Sneaky Calpol Hider.

Dear Sneaky Calpol Hider,

How about some gentle play therapy? You could get together a few syringes & medicine spoons, some water, or if you are feeling brave some milk, and some of his favourite toys (perhaps a favourite cuddly?). He could pretend to give them all some “medicine”.

Then perhaps, he could give mummy some medicine too?

Syringes are also a great toy to play with at bath time for lots of squirting fun & generally making a mess in the bathroom. I personally think a small syringe is much easier than a medicine spoon for trying to get medicine into a toddler.

I am hoping that a little bit of time spent playing with syringes in particular might make the experience of trying to give your little one medicine less traumatic.

Have you thought about letting him squirt the medicine in himself? It might not work but it may be that your son likes the feeling of being in charge & being allowed to do it himself. I used this strategy with my very strong willed daughter when she was a similar age.

If this doesn’t help, then my final suggestion would be, give him a big cuddle. Tuck him in nice and tight towards you and with your free hand, gently put the syringe inside his cheek sliding it along his teeth or gum towards the back of his teeth. Squirt a little bit in at a time. This method works by trickling down his throat, which will make him swallow the medicine but because of squirting in at the side it makes it very difficult for him to spit it out again.

He might not like it very much but a big cuddle after and lots of praise, perhaps a reward such a sticker after it’s done?

If it’s all still proving tricky, then take the view that if you are getting some of it in then that’s better than nothing. If you are at all worried that he’s not getting better then I would take him back to the GP to be checked over.

Good luck!

Lots of love,

Aunt Juniper* xx


* On this occasion, Aunt Juniper was Becky Linane, Paediatric Nurse and mum of three aged 9, 7 & 5. Recently returned to work part time after a career break to raise her little ones.



‘I have put it in water/ juice as my girl is fussy about medicine. Hope he feels better soon!! X’ 

‪’Different flavours/brands? Tesco & Boots (& others) do other flavours. Feel better baba x’

Hide in yoghurt that used to help. Like Petit Filous xxx’

‘Have you tried it in a syringe?’

Yoghurt works every time with my girls.’

‘We use Disprol instead as my girl would always gag/throw up with thick gloopy medicines. It’s water soluble paracetamol for kids, 1 tab is same dose as 5ml Calpol & can dissolve in a small/large amount of water depending what they drink. It barely tastes of anything.’

‘My baby would never take Calpol and giving it to him was actually traumatic for everyone, but our doctor just squeezed his cheeks together and popped it in with a syringe. I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the method but pleased we got some Calpol in him! Good luck x’

‘I do it in the bath so even if it goes everywhere you don’t get too sticky and some always goes in.’

 ‘Does he have a dummy? Some chemist do the dummy where you can pop medicine in it. X’

‘Teat of a bottle always worked for me. Good luck.’

 ‘I use a syringe and squirt tiny drops into the back of the cheek. My eldest has always loved medicine but the little one is more tricky. Calpol and Nurofen should come with a syringe in the box. X’

‘I have no advice but lots of sympathy. My son has just vomited over the pair of us as he gagged so much on the Calpol.’

I know this sounds cruel but needs must sometimes. When my LO was in hospital (had bronchiolitis) the nurse told us to put the syringe into the mouth on top of the tongue and hold it down on the tongue and squeeze the medicine in. You have to keep holding down the tongue until it’s been swallowed. I think this suppresses the gag reflex so they’ve no choice but to swallow. This is probably your last resort though! x’

‘If you are really stuck doc can prescribe paracetamol in suppository form. Works fasters and more effectively and they don’t even notice.’

‘We use a syringe dipped in Nutella and it works like a charm. Ours has always struggled to keep Calpol down though so we tend to use Nurofen for pain relief.’

Pinch his nose and he will be forced to swallow, it’s cruel but it works. xx’

‘Or make him cry and then put the syringe in.’

‘We gave up as it never worked for my daughter and moved to suppositories! It worked really well for her and was much less traumatic. Now she’s older we’re back on syringe, but it’s worth a try.’

We found the smaller tipped syringe made ours gag less. Little squirts at a time (3 or 4). We would have to pin our daughter down sometimes.’

‘My son never had a problem with liquid medicine, but my daughter is whole different story, so I feel your pain!! As other mums have suggested ask the GP to prescribe suppositories. They work much faster and much much easier to give. X’

‘When you put the syringe in and squeeze some out, blow gently in their face. It shocks them and they swallow.’

In fromage frais, always fooled my two.’

‘May sound daft, but have you tried putting it in the syringe then giving it to him? My daughter used to fight it like mad if we held it. Gave it to her out of desperation one night and she put it straight in her mouth.’

My little one didn’t have a dummy but the medicine dummy thingy still worked.’

‘Put the Calpol in his milk. I still do it for my 2 year old and it works perfectly. Not too much milk (to make sure he drinks it all and has the full dose). Good luck.’

Suppositories, although order them in soon as we had trouble getting hold of them. Also my little girl refused all syringe medicine until about 22 months because she was given horrible reflux meds when she was tiny. Once I had the suppositories I felt far calmer.’

Medicine dummy, you can get one in Mothercare or Boots. Lifesaver. x’

‘A paediatric nurse at Lewisham hospital told me that if you syringe it between their teeth and the inside of their cheek, they can’t spit it out. Good luck xx’

‘I have sat my son on my knee facing outwards one arm holding his arms down the other syringed it into the inside of his cheek. Some would spit out but some would go down. Good luck. x’

‘Put Peppa Pig on, the distraction factor works wonders for us.’

‘Also told by paed nurse to just do bit by bit, so might take you up to hour to get whole dose in. Good luck! It’s not fun.’


Note: These are suggestions from members of Mummy’s Gin Fund based on experience and should not be treated as official advice. Any action taken is at your own risk. Always seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your life.

Always consult NHS 111, your GP, health visitor or A&E for professional medical advice.


Founder of MGF, Helen is a mum of four who spends way too much time on the interweb and not enough time in bed. She loves wearing her dressing gown, car boot sales and watching TV programmes featuring food. Her specialist subjects include 'how to overfill your car boot' and 'how to avoid dusting'. Follow her at Twitter: @Ginfund, Facebook: @MGFund, Instagram: @mummysginfund and online:

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