We Asked The Experts

Do These TikTok Hacks To Make Medicine Time Easier For Kids Actually Work?

Pro tip: Don't try "hiding" the medicine cup in the bottom of a juice box.

Originally Published: 
A woman gives her daughter medicine
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Getting your kiddos to take medicine is no easy feat. Whether it's an enormous pill that seems better suited to a full-size horse or a liquid med that brings your little one to dramatics, avoiding tantrums, tears, and clothes covered in Children's Tylenol is a challenge for even the most seasoned parents on the block.

Perhaps you've seen TikTok clips floating around that claim to make medicine time easier, wondering if this sh*t actually works and if it's OK to try them. A pediatrician gave Scary Mommy the scoop on which ones are worth trying (hint: grab the chocolate sauce) and which ones are a disaster waiting to happen… lookin' at you, "hidden" medicine cup inside a juice box.

First, it's worth pointing out that you should always check in with your pediatrician before mixing your kid's medicine with any other food or drink item, just to ensure there's no contraindication or risk of an unwanted reaction. For example, you wouldn't want to crush a slow-release pill; some meds need to be taken on an empty stomach; so on and so forth.

Sneak It in a Sweet Treat

If your little one simply can't stomach the whole "medicine syringe" business, you'll probably love this viral TikTok hack, which involves injecting a mini muffin or other baked treat with a dose of liquid medicine. Of her young son, mom Jenna wrote, "He's sick and was refusing to take Tylenol, so I tried this and it works!! He didn't even notice, and nothing leaked out." In the clip, she can be seen handing off a medicine-filled mini muffin with zero fanfare or freaking out.

While some commenters called it "genius," comparing the sneaky hack to those pill pockets you give to pets, others worried that the child would become distrustful of safe foods. In a follow-up video, Jenna shared that her son loves the sweet snack and had no issue eating them the following day free of Tylenol.

But there is one issue with this bite-sized hack, as Dr. William Chu, board-certified pediatrician and medical director at Pediatrix Primary + Urgent Care of Texas, tells us. "The mini muffin hack only shows her giving only about 1mL of Tylenol in a syringe, so depending on their weight, most toddlers would then need to take 5 to 10 muffins to get enough medication to treat a fever."

Not only is that tedious and time-consuming, your little one might not want to eat that many in one sitting, completely defeating the purpose of the hack in the first place. You'll also want to avoid mixing medications in a bottle of formula or milk, says Chu. "Mixing medications in a large volume of liquid can lead to kids not getting the full dose if they don't finish the bottle, and a lot of the medication can settle and be left inside the bottle. Plus, you don't want kids to get an aversion to drinking their formula or milk."

Hide It In Juice

Another viral hack involves cutting open the side of an empty juice box and "hiding" the medicine cup in the bottom, which Chu and TikTok commenters alike are skeptical about. "The juice box hack is not likely to work because kids are still just tasting the medication, and most of the medication will be left in the cup and straw if not already spilled in the juice box."

Drown It In Chocolate Syrup

The third TikTok hack making the rounds involves coating the child's tongue with chocolate sauce and then giving them the medicine like a shot, which Chu says is his "go-to" for parents who need some assistance administering liquid- or powder-based meds.

"The chocolate syrup hack works and is what I most often recommend," he says. "These hacks make it overly complicated, though. It's easier to measure the correct amount of medication and then add a small amount of chocolate syrup. The flavor is usually strong enough to mask the medication taste even better than the pharmacy flavor additives. It is not likely to have any interactions with medications that most children would be taking."

Chocolate syrup would typically work best for kiddos with sensory issues, as you won't run the risk of them learning to distrust or dislike other food or drink items.

"Another tip if getting a prescription from a doctor would be to ask for medications where you'd have to give the smallest volume with the least frequency," he adds. "Sometimes, if the volume of liquid medication starts getting really large, it's easier to dose the medication as a capsule. You can open up the capsule and then mix the powder in a small amount of chocolate syrup. Not all medication in capsules can be taken if opened, so feel free to ask the prescriber or pharmacist. There are also medication-dispensing pacifiers that may be worth a try."

Overall, Chu says, "Some of these hacks are pretty clever, but whether they will work or not may be more dependent on the child and the medication that parents are trying to get them to take." That means it might take some trial and error (and plenty of patience on your part), but isn't that parenting in a nutshell? You've got this, friend. We believe in you!

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