When can a baby have medicine?

When you can give your baby medicine depends on many different factors such as what it is being used for, the type of medicine, your baby's age and weight or other medical conditions they might have.

This is why it is important to always read the instructions on the label and the information leaflet of the medicine before giving any medicine to your child. You can also speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice about medicines for your baby.

Tips for giving liquid medicine to babies (newborn to 1 year old)

What are some useful tips to follow when giving liquid medicine to babies?

  • Always check and follow the dosage instructions and make sure you measure the dosage properly before giving it to your baby. Get a syringe or paediatric measuring device to ensure you’re accurate.
  • Use an oral syringe to give infants medicine or a spoon that’s been specifically designed to give medicine. These can easily be found with your pharmacist if you don’t get one with your medication.
  • Check how long you have to wait before you can give them another dose. Even if it seems like the last dose has worn off and you really want to give your baby another one to help them feel better, don’t do it if the recommended amount of time hasn’t passed.
  • Work with/use your baby’s natural reflexes like sucking to help make it easier to give them medicine.
  • Make sure your baby has swallowed their medicine before you leave the room to reduce the risk of them choking.
  • Always check the label to see when the medication expires.

How to give your baby liquid medicine

Before you do anything, check the dosage recommendations based on your baby’s age and read the patient information leaflet very carefully. Then:

  1. Wash your hands and shake the bottle, unless stated otherwise, and do it well.
  2. Following the instructions with the medicine, measure out the correct dosage using an oral syringe that comes with the medicine packaging (you can ask your pharmacist for an oral syringe if it doesn’t come with the packaging)
  3. Let your baby sit upright and suck the liquid from the syringe or put the tip of the syringe inside their cheek and slowly squirt a little bit of medicine out. Let your baby swallow the medicine and then squirt a little bit more. If you squirt all the medicine at once your baby might choke.
  4. After use, replace the bottle cap. Wash the syringe in warm water and allow it to dry. Store the medicine out of the reach of children.

Giving medicine to 1+ year olds

If your little one is between 1 and 3 years old, here are some tips for giving them medicine if they are refusing to take their medicine:

  • Try to make taking medicine fun if possible. You can pretend to give some to their favourite teddy or doll, or play the aeroplane landing in their mouth game.
  • Praise your little one after they’ve taken their medicine, which can encourage them to take it again the next time.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • Offer them a small reward after taking their medicine.

If they can already speak, you can ask them why they’re refusing to take it. If they can give you a "why" you can hopefully find a way to make them more willing to take the medicine. For example, if they hate the taste, maybe see if the medicine is available in a different flavour.

What to do if your baby refuses the medicine?

It can get tricky when your baby refuses to take their medicine, so what do you do? Negotiation, persistence, frustration, clever tactics and determination may all get thrown in the mix!

To help you in your quest to encourage your baby to take the medicine, here are some tips on how to give your baby medicine when they refuse:

  • Put the medicine on your child’s cheek and not their tongue. This may help to reduce the taste if they don’t like it.
  • Be positive when it’s medicine-taking time. If you’re stressed and anxious or angry, it will affect your baby and can make them anxious and resistant to taking it.
  • Give them medicine in a flavour they prefer. For example, Nurofen for Children Baby is specially formulated for little ones and comes in strawberry and orange flavours, so you can find what’s suitable for your child for pain or fever relief.
  • Soothe them by holding them, putting on a show or movie they like or doing something they enjoy. There’s probably something your baby finds especially soothing.

How to store medicine safely

All parents know that if you have medicine in the house, you need to store it safely.

How should you store your medicine safely?

  • You need to make sure the medicine won’t get in the wrong hands. Store it where children can’t get to it.
  • Some medications must be kept in a cool, dry space. Some should be stored away from direct light and heat and others need to be refrigerated after opening. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how your baby’s medicine should be stored and read the information leaflet that comes with it.
  • Always check the expiration dates on the labels.

 If you have any questions about giving your baby liquid medicine, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health matters for further information or medical advice, please speak to your GP or a Pharmacist.