Last reviewed by Dr Philippa Kaye: 23 May 2023


If you've ever considered putting medicine such as Calpol in your baby's bottle, my advice is you is that you really shouldn't do it.

While it's not necessarily unsafe to give your baby medicine this way, the key reason to avoid doing it is that you can't be certain how much of the medicine you've measured out your baby is actually swallowing. This is also true if you put the medicine into a beaker with some juice. Remember: because you give a medicine such as Calpol to ease pain or reduce fever, you do need to give your baby the right dose to make it fully effective.

If your baby is unwell or off colour, they may not drink as much as they usually do. And it they only take, say, two-thirds of their normal feed, you will be unsure if they've taken the whole dose of the medicine or not
Dr Philippa Kaye, expert GP and mum of 3

I totally get that giving your baby medicine can be a tricky operation. They might spit it out if you try to give it with a syringe, for example. But there are other – better – options you can try instead of putting it in their bottle.

How should I give my baby medicine instead of putting it in their bottle?

Don't give up on the syringe straightaway.

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The easiest way to give medicine with a syringe is to put it in to one side, between your baby's cheek and bottom gum. They are far less likely to spit it out that way.

Only push small amounts into your baby's mouth at a time (giving too much at once may make your baby choke or feel like they're going to choke). And always remember to allow your baby to swallow before pushing the plunger further.

And if your baby is older and weaned onto solid food, then, in my opinion, this is one of those times when bribery is helpful: the promise of a lovely food or drink treat after the medicine has gone down can work wonders!


What else can I try if using the syringe isn't working?

If your baby really doesn't want to take medicine from a syringe, you could:

  • Try a different flavour of the medicine (if there is one)
  • Let your baby hold the syringe themselves, so they feel they have some control
  • Mix the correct dose of medicine with a (very) small amount of formula or juice before drawing it up into the syringe. This isn't the same as putting the medicine into your baby's bottle, as you're only using a tiny amount of formula (or juice) to alter the flavour and you're then using the syringe to administer the medicine, so you can check that the full dose has been taken.
  • Disguise the syringe by popping it into a bottle teat, so that your baby sees the teat, not the syringe – and then you can gently push the medicine through the teat's holes into your baby's mouth.
  • Buy paracetamol-based suppositories over the counter at your pharmacy. You place these into your baby's rectum (back passage) to deliver the medication. Make sure your pharmacist knows the suppositories are for your child, so that you're given the correct, age-appropriate dosage.

Please note: this advice is not personalised or meant to replace individual advice given to you by your doctor or medical team.

Pics: Getty Images


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Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice.