Most medication administration procedures will be applied program-wide; however, some medications may be more common for younger infants and toddlers (e.g., diaper creams), and some medication administration practices may be different based on a child’s age and developmental level.
Tips and Strategies Related to Medication Administration for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
- Support the infant’s head and rock gently to soothe.
- Hold the baby semi-upright.
- Use an infant seat if convenient or if you need both hands to administer the medication.
- Keep the infant’s arms and hands away from the face.
- Gently press the chin to open the mouth.
- Using a syringe or dropper with the measured dose already prepared:
- Position the device inside the infant’s mouth, on the side along the gums.
- Squirt slowly to allow time to swallow.
- Special dosing nipples work well when the baby is hungry.
- Give oral medication before feeding unless instructed not to.
- Rock the baby gently to soothe and return the child to play.
- Give toddlers some control, such as a choice between sitting or standing.
- Be honest if the medication has a bad taste and allow the child to take a drink after.
- Use age-appropriate language to explain what you are doing.
- Keep up the attitude that you expect cooperation, and that the child does not have a choice in taking the medication.
- Thank the child for cooperation and give praise.
- Give an age-appropriate explanation for why the medication must be taken and why it will help the child get better.
- Use the opportunity to teach about time, body parts, health, or illness.
- Involving the child in the process helps prepare them to take their own medication as they get older.
- Reading books about medication with the child may be helpful.
- Older children may have more need for privacy.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: October 30, 2023