Bad Medicine

It’s like feeding candy to a baby, isn’t it? At least that’s what I recall about the taste of amoxicillin. I remember its syrupy sweet pinky candy-ness, just waiting for me, second only to the orange Triaminic we unwittingly took as kids, thinking that it would make a difference in our coughs and colds. Of course, we know better now and I absolutely refuse cough medicines to my families – why even bother? It doesn’t work, cough medicines are potentially dangerous, and they are hard to administer to children.

But sometimes medicines are called for – including times when children, like my own little L, get an ear infection. His doctor wasn’t going to prescribe anything initially, but because L had been sent home from school for fussiness, wasn’t eating as much as usual, and was headed on a trip across the country that weekend with us, his doctor elected to prescribe an antibiotic. So, home from the doctor’s my husband T came with a bottle full of the “pink medicine” and a syringe with which to dose it.

I never really realized how irritating and annoying it is to give medicines to a baby. I don’t know how the parents do it who have children who, at times more medically complex, have to take medications several times a day.  Little L only had his amoxicillin and his daily Polyvisol with Iron (not as tough to adminster but *incredibly* metallic and smelly . . . .he smells like the multivitamin for the rest of the day!) Boy oh boy, did it feel troublesome putting my finger in the corner of his mouth to keep it open, pushing in the medicine milliliter by milliliter. Frankly, it was like <i>Inception</i>. It’s much harder to put something in than take something out! I found myself wishing that L only was having a cold so I could go back to giving him nose drops and sucking out the mucus . . which I ended up having to do anyway during the week I was giving him the amoxicillin.

Boy is it tough to feed baby that bad bad medicine. Does anyone have tips or tricks for it? We basically had to use brute force and that finger in the mouth trick I mentioned. He’s too young to take the medicine by spoon and I didn’t feel confident adding it to his food – he eats too sparsly for me to count on his taking the amoxicillin that way. Plus he’d know better. You’ve already read about how I try to trick him into eating the organic pureed foods that I try to smush into his mouth, when he’d much rather have mama’s milk or mashed table foods. Incidentally, he did great with the table food today. Guess he lacks the wimpy palate of his mom. Today he really liked his Nanaji’s spicy cauliflower-peas curry.  I managed to mix it with a little bit of peas puree. I’d like to think it helped him by toning down the spice, but I think he was probably okay with the spice; dad’s cauliflower probably helped him tolerate his comparatively mild peas puree!

I feel fortunate that today was his last dose of the amoxicillin.  Don’t know if it made much difference; like was a viral ear infection anyway. But Phew. One ear infection down. . a lifetime’s worth to go. . . .

Tonight's dessert - a pumpkin pie semifreddo, frozen in a freshly baked pie crust!

4 thoughts on “Bad Medicine”

  1. Ah, I remember the pink “bubble gum medicine,” too. Does your little L take a pacifier? I wonder if one of those pacifier medicine dispensers would work the next time? I tried it, but unfortunately, mine would never keep one in her mouth. I was really surprised by how early she was able to take things from a spoon, however. I offered gripe water that way long before she started solids.

    On the subject of purees, since you’re a doctor who is open to elimination communication, I wonder what you think about “baby led weaning?”

    1. Thanks for your comment, Melissa! It’s funny, I never called it “bubble gum” medicine as many other people did, I suspect because I never chewed bubble gum growing up. It was just plain “pink” medicine for me. One of my patients’ parents managed to have their child take iron supplements by telling them it was chocolate. The child was so excited to tell other people he was eating chocolate that he loved the medicine! Funny how things can induce children toward acceptance.

      I have heard about the pacifier dosing devices but have never tried it. L likes pacifiers so it may be something worth trying. And at least the medicine should taste fairly good so it must be the process of medication administration that frustrates him so much.

      I am right on track with you with “baby led weaning,” which I had to look up just now. My professional opinion – which I share with families – is that your child will tell you what they like and if they are willing to eat table foods, go for it. Some babies do love purees and take them in all different flavors. Little L is simply not a puree kind of guy. He has two teeth and a knobby set of gums and he wants to use them. Granted, he will always prefer breastmilk if given the opportunity, but last night he really chowed down on some cauliflower curry that my dad made for my husband and me. And my dad is notorious for making things super-spicy – this was no mild “petit appetit” recipe, it was the regular stuff, and Lakshman did just fine with it. I did like having the peas puree on hand to mix with the cauliflower and keep it all a bit mushy. L will tell me if things get too challenging texturally, and he will spit out the food or make a gagging type of face. The only thing to avoid is the choking hazards and the allergens. I once had a 15-month old patient in the emergency room who almost died from peanut aspiration (eating peanuts, choking on them and having them enter his airways). Regarding weaning off breast milk it also makes sense to keep things baby-led; the newest recommendations from the AAP and WHO are to breast feed until two years of age. The only exception I feel is with cups – better to introduce regular cups early and minimize sippy cups as much as possible. Sure, babies make a mess but as long as it’s water spilling on the floor, there’s not much to clean up!

      1. Thanks for sharing your opinion! Funny about the iron and chocolate, too 🙂

        It’s reassuring to hear that you’re open to taking the child’s lead – it seems to be working well for L! My daughter never had purees, bottles, or sippy cups, but nowadays at 19 months will eat about anything, spoon feeds herself well (with a bit of mess of course), and happily drinks from a glass. Worked for us! Of course she also prefers breast milk from the tap – that seems to be the favorite of all who have access to it 😉

  2. I would let n suck on the syringe a but, then work it to the outside of her mouth and push back & plunge. Try and get her head tipped back if I could. Of course, at that age, she wanted nothing to do with medicine, but now dies for ‘betters.’ Knock on wood, we haven’t had to do any abx for her yet.

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