Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

Easy DOSE It! The art of giving medicine to babies

Published January - 15 - 2009 Print This Post

You’ve tried playing airplane, pinching the baby’s nose, squirting medicines through a syringe, hiding them in flavored gelatin, standing on your head – and nothing seems to get the medication past those raspberried lips. Giving medications to an infant, toddler, or preschooler is a true test of parental ingenuity.

Liquid medications:

  • For nursing and bottle-fed babies, use a pacifier with a medication cup attached to it. The nipple places the strongly flavored liquid past the taste buds. The baby swallows the medication as part of the sucking reflex.
  • Never use a soupspoon to give medications. Studies show many parents under and overmedicate little ones this way.

Inhaled medications:

  • Never spray medication directly into the baby’s mouth. The propellant does not force the medication into the tiny airways. To be effective, the baby must actively inhale the medication into the lungs.

There are two ways to do this. With a:

  • Holding chamber with pediatric mask, a device you attach to the metered dose inhaler and place over the baby’s face to use.
  • Nebulizer, a machine that delivers the medication as a mist over a period of a few minutes.
  • Inhaled medications will NOT work unless they reach the airways. This means the mask must make contact with the baby’s face AND the baby must inhale the medication.


  • Asthma causes the baby to take rapid shallow breaths and can dehydrate the baby quickly. This creates a dangerous scenario and the baby will most likely need to be hospitalized to deliver medications and liquids through the veins.