If you’ve got a poorly toddler who isn’t interested in taking her medicine, it can be tempting to fib a little to get it down. But don’t. “Never tell a toddler her medication is a sweet,” advises Pam Prentice, from the Child Accident Prevention Trust (www.capt.org.uk). “This will only confuse her and make her think it’s OK to eat pills as they’re a treat.”
Lead by example
Children learn by copying adults, so if your toddler spots you popping pills, chances are she’ll want a go too. “Young children become interested in what adults – especially mummy and daddy – are doing from a very young age,” says Pam. “Always take your medicine in a separate room so she doesn’t see you and want to copy you by swallowing your medicine.”
Keep bottles and pill packets right out of reach, just putting them away isn’t enough. “Check locations from your toddler’s point of view,” says Pam. “Get down on the floor and view handbags and bedside cabinets like your toddler would. You’ll soon see how easily little people can get to things, so make sure medicine is stored high up.”
Don’t get complacent
You can’t assume just because your medicine has hard-to-open lids, it’s safe. “Childproof packaging is helpful in slowing your toddler down,” says Pam, “but if she does get hold of something, she might well be able to break through it, so always hide bottles out of reach, regardless of the packaging it comes in.”
Teach tots to ask
Instruct your toddler from an early age to always ask mummy or daddy before picking up something and eating it. If you catch her reaching for something, explain again saying it’s in case she eats something she shouldn’t. This will help her avoid eating poisonous berries too.
Explain the dangers
“With older tots, from about 3 years, it’s worth talking through the reasons why she shouldn’t eat or drink medicines and pills,” says Pam. “Bear in mind, she could get confused over the information, so never rely on your explanation to keep her
safe and always hide bottles and packets.”
“We’re very careful about keeping medicines in a box out of reach, but when Erin was 2 she got my handbag and found a pack of ibuprofen that I hadn’t used for a while as I was pregnant. We now keep all the medicines in a box high up in a room that the children don’t usually go in.”
Jo Holland, 36, from Kent, mum to Harry, 11, Bridie, 9, Erin, 7, Arthur, 5, Arwen, 3, Matilda, 2, and Merlin, 16 months
What to do If you think your tot’s swallowed something…
DO check the floor around your tot and the pill packet to see if she really has taken anything and what it is.
DO get advice from your pharmacist, GP or NHS direct on 0845 4647.
DON’T give your child salt water or anything else to make her feel sick.
DO find the bottle or pill packet and take it with you to the GP or hospital.