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Making Medicine Taste Better

These instructions are for caregivers of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) patients who need to give their child medicine by mouth.

Taking medicine can be challenging. Some medicines have a bad taste, which can make you less likely to want to take them. Children are often sensitive to bitter tastes. Below are some ways to manage taking medicine with a bad taste.

  • Hold your nose while you take the medicine.

  • Drink something right after you take the medicine. 

  • Suck on an ice cube or popsicle before taking the medicine to numb your tastebuds.

  • Choose a matching flavor. If medicine tastes salty, choose something salty to give with it (chips, pretzels, broth). If medicine tastes sweet, choose something sweet (applesauce, chocolate, fruit).

  • Cover the pill with chocolate sauce, then suck on a peppermint candy.

  • Cover the tablet with cake icing.

  • Coat your tongue with nut butter or syrup before taking the medicine.

  • Use a syringe or dropper for taking liquid medicines and aim for the back of the tongue to avoid the taste buds.

  • Mix the medicine with a small amount of the following:

    • FlavoRx -- you can ask your pharmacist to add this to your child’s medication. You may have to pay extra for this.

    • Cherry syrup – most pharmacies have flavored syrups available over the counter.

    • White grape juice (good at hiding bitter tastes)

    • Jell-O

    • Maple syrup

    • Kool Aid powder

    • Pudding

    • Yogurt

    • Ice cream

    • Fruit juice

    • Chocolate spread

    • Smoothies

    • Nut Butters

    • Mashed potatoes

    • Oatmeal

    • Apple sauce

    • Milk shakes

    • Coffee flavor syrup

Mix the medicine into a small amount of the food or liquid. You must finish the entire amount that you mix.  If the mixture is too large, there is a chance that your child will not finish it and then will not get the full amount of medicine.

Not all medicines can be crushed or mixed. Ask your pharmacist if you can crush or mix your medicine. 

Some medicines cannot be mixed with certain foods. Ask your provider or pharmacist before mixing medicine into food.

Always follow the instructions on the medicine label. If you have any questions, ask your provider or pharmacist for guidance. 

 

Reviewed November 2023 by Kerry Spichiger, DNP, CRNP; Melissa A. Lerman, MD, PhD, MSCE, Dori Abel, MD

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