Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Tips for getting kids to take their supplements or medications

vitaminsWhen your child is prescribed medication; ask for as much information as possible about its potential side effects, any special precautions, whether it should be taken before or after a meal, or whether any foods should be avoided.

•    Allow your child to drink liquid mixtures through a straw. This helps to bypass the taste buds at the front of the tongue.
•    Similarly, place a dropper in your baby or toddler’s cheek pouch, to help the medication make a detour around these bitter taste buds. Administering medication in this way makes it harder for young children to spit it out.
•    Offer your infant a quick breast-feed or pacifier if they become unsettled.
•    Mix liquids with water or fresh fruit juice (apple or white grape juice are particularly effective) and make into ice blocks. Try one-teaspoon dose per cube. Offer your child an ice cube to suck directly or reconstitute in a cup of juice or water.
•    Probiotics can be added to food or drink provided that they are not heated, as this affects the probiotics viability.
•    Fish oil capsules are best taken chilled. Although they are often not tolerated neat, encourage your child to give them a try. Don’t immediately assume they won’t enjoy them. Alternatively, fish oil can be easily hidden in meals containing fat. Heating fish oil liquid affects the oil stability. The same is applicable to vitamin D capsules. Pierce vitamin D capsules and hide in food that is already warm.
•    Crush tablets (never capsules) between two dessertspoons and mix with honey or natural peanut butter.
•    Powders, internal capsule contents, crushed tablets or liquids can be mixed with yoghurt, stewed fruit, mashed banana, apple sauce, fruit smoothies or shakes.
•    Some supplements are best mixed with meat, tomato based sauces, or mashed potato.
•    Minerals are easily and well combined with water, juice or honey.
•    Give your child’s medications a “make over”. Children tend to make decisions about things, based on what they look like. Add a drop or two of food colouring to your child’s liquid medications. This change in appearance may encourage them to adhere to medication prescriptions. Some pharmacies also offer flavourings, such as chocolate or bubblegum to make medicines more appealing to children. Check with your pharmacist before colouring or flavouring any medication and avoid this approach completely if your child is allergic to any of the ingredients.
•    Mix medications or supplements with water or juice, and gelatine to make into small jelly cups.
•    When mixing liquids or powders into juice or water offer your child frequent, smaller doses. This helps to dilute the preparation and makes it almost tasteless.
•    Suggest your child holds their nose while you give them the medication to diminish the taste. Do not forcibly hold your child’s nose, as this may cause them to inhale some of the medication.
•    Numb your child’s taste buds by offering them a frozen fruit Popsicle or ice cube prior to administering treatment.
•    If a medication is unaffordable, ask your doctor or pharmacist about equivalent cheaper brands or generics.
•    Place one of your child’s favourite puppets on your hand and playfully use it to give them their medication.
•    In the case of a crisis, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can substitute one type of medication for another. Some brands are more palatable than others. Children may also dislike the consistency of a particular medication. In this instance, a thinner or thicker liquid may do the trick.
•    A sick child may be nauseous and vomiting, unable or unwilling to take medication at all. Find out from your paediatrician whether the medication is available in suppository form and what dose is appropriate based on your child’s weight.
•    If your child vomits 10-15 minutes after taking a dose of medication, repeat it. Calm them down and gently encourage them to try again. Play a game or read their favourite book to distract them. If vomiting occurs sometime thereafter, call your doctor for advice about whether the medication dose or part thereof should be repeated. 
•    Eye, ear or nose infections often require external drops. Warm the drops by standing them in a container, filled with warm water for a few minutes. This will prevent your child from getting a shock when the liquid enters their nose or ear. Place your baby or child on a flat surface and if possible, enlist the help of a third party to keep them still. For eardrops, with your child lying on their side, squeeze the bulb and let the drops fall into the centre of their ear. For nose drops, with your child lying on their back, ask them to tilt their head backwards. Gently place 2-3 drops in each nostril. When using eye drops, have your child lie on their back. Gently pull down the lower lid of the infected eye and allow 1-2 drops to fall inside the eyelid.

HOW TO ENCOURAGE COMPLIANCE

•    Explain to your child in age appropriate language the importance of taking the “medicine”.
•    Establish a routine by taking remedies, supplements or chronic medications at the same time everyday. For example, after brushing teeth or before a meal.
•    Set an alarm as a reminder.
•    Keep a tally sheet of doses, mark a calendar or teach older children how to use a pillbox.
•    Involve the entire family.
•    Use non-food based reward systems for medication/supplementation compliance, such as stickers. Make a star chart and give your child a star for every dose of medication taken. Offer a reward for one successful month of medication adherence, if they are on chronic medication or for the completion of their anti-biotic.
•    It is essential to empower children to learn to take their medications and be responsible for their own health. Even young children are more inclined to do things if they feel they are making a decision and are in control. Using the “I’m all grown up approach” may help with adherence. Place your “big boy/girl’s” medication in their favourite cup and allow them to take it on their own.
•    Once or twice daily dosing are generally the most comfortable regimens for school-age children because parents can remind their children to take their medication or directly observe administration of therapy. Ask your doctor to prescribe medications that can be taken once or twice daily to improve compliance.

SAFETY TIPS & PRECAUTIONS

•    Some medications are not absorbed as quickly when they are combined with solids or milk products but these pairings may be essential if your child is non-compliant. Penicillin G and erythromycin lose their potency when combined with acidic foods.
•    Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before crushing pills. Some pills have a protective coating to protect the stomach. If their coating is damaged, the contents may irritate the stomach lining or in some cases not work as effectively.
•    Coated tablets should be swallowed not chewed. This ensures that their time-release features remain intact and that your child receives the full dose of medication. Chewed tablets may get stuck between your child’s teeth.
•    When mixing medications or supplements with food or drink, keep the quantities or portions small. If the meal or beverage is too large, your child may not be able to finish and therefore not get a full dose.
•    Temperature change can alter the efficacy of some medications. In general, avoid freezing or warming up any medications or supplements.
•    Don’t refer to medication as candy. Emphasize that it is not a treat. Store all medications safely out of reach of children.
•    When giving your baby medication with a spoon, dropper or medicine tube, allow the medicine to enter their mouth slowly. Don’t allow the medicine to run directly down their throat as they may choke.
•    When using drops, never allow the dropper to touch your child’s ear, nose or throat; or this will transfer germs back to the bottle. If the dropper does come into contact with your child, sterilize it thoroughly before returning to the bottle.
•    Never use medications that have expired as they are potentially dangerous and may no longer be effective. Hand them in at your pharmacy for safe disposal.
•    Never give your child prescription medication intended for another child or adult.
•    Children’s small bodies are more vulnerable to accidental overdose. It is therefore imperative that parents follow dosage instructions and use accurate measurements, especially with liquids. Too much medication is potentially dangerous and too little medication may be ineffective.
Use the special measuring instrument that comes with the medication or obtain one of these tools from the pharmacy. For example, dosage cups, cylindrical dosing spoons or syringes.

References

Metagenics Seminar (2011). Allergies, Autism, ADHD & Obesity: Managing the Emerging Epidemics of Childhood. Queensland: Australia.
Stoppard, M. (2005). Family Health Guide: The essential home reference for a lifetime of good health. Dorling Kindersley: GB.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0901/p793.html
http://www.parents.com
http://www. pfizer.com
http://www.kidshealth.org
http://www.sixtysecondparent.com