How To Give Baby Calpol, Nurofen and other medicine

Best For Mums share tips from 19 mums the best way to give your baby painkillers such as Calpol and Nurofen.
Last updated: November 26, 2019

Recent to when this post was written, my little boy suffered with hand, foot and mouth which made him constantly uncomfortable and in pain. To help with the discomfort we of course tried to give him Calpol and Ibuprofen oral suspension. However, at first it was really difficult to give him the medicine – he would move his head away, close his mouth and in some cases where we finally got it into his mouth he would spit out. 

Often, this would result in us not wanting to make him upset so he would go without medicine at all. 

During this time I went to seek out some advice from other parents and bloggers how they got on giving their children Calpol, Ibuprofen and other oral suspension and use the Best For Mums platform to help other parents who may be struggling to give their baby medicine.

What is Calpol/Nurofen/Oral Suspension

We’ll keep this brief as most people know what Calpol or Nurofen are. The products we are specifically talking about are below.

Calpol
  • Tough on pain but gentle on little tummies
Sale
Nurofen
  • Suitable for babies from 3 months and weighing over 5 kg

These are the oral suspension versions which are sticky liquids.

Have you ever given your child Calpol or ibuprofen suspension when they were 2 or under?

Of all the mums we surveyed, 76% had given their children painkillers such as Calpol, Ibuprofen or another brand of oral suspension at some time. In a study conducted at the University of Oxford concluded that babies feel pain in the same way that adults do, therefore it can be assumed that painkillers would work just as well and would genuinely ease their symptoms.

If YES, how did you give them it?

We asked those that have given their children Calpol/Ibuprofen/unbranded oral suspension HOW they delivered the medicine:

  • Syringe 69%
  • Spoon 11%
  • Combination syringe and spoon 15%
  • Mixed with food 5%

Clearly, the syringe is the most popular method and probably assumed to be easiest.

if NO, why not?

Of those that said that they had never given their children painkillers the reasons they didn’t were:

  • Don’t agree with giving children drugs (18%)
  • Baby unable to take the medicine (76%)
  • Baby didn’t need it (6%)

Although we didn’t have a follow up question for their responses we wanted to first and foremost find any dangers with giving babies medicine on the back of the 18% who do not agree with giving children drugs. The NHS official website states “Paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe for treating pain and fever in babies and children. Both are available as liquid medicines for young children.” It would appear that not giving children medicine because they do not agree with it is more of a moral standpoint rather than a medical one.

Clearly, we are not alone with our struggle to give our baby Calpol but it was somewhat reassuring to know it wasn’t ‘just us’ but it did give us the basis to do this study and share tips on how to get the baby to take Calpol.

Lastly, the 6% that said that their baby didn’t need to is difficult to explain. However, a report by  Institute of Medical Education and Research in India supposes a few reasons why a baby may not express pain, a parent may think their baby isn’t in pain or that their baby would benefit from pain relief:

  • Lack of awareness of infants’ capability to perceive pain.
  • Lack of awareness of clinical situations wherein pain is perceived.
  • Inability of infants to express pain specifically.
  • Medical attention focused towards treatment of primary clinical condition.
  • Infants’ expression(s) of pain interpreted as expressions of fear.
  • Caregivers’ temptation to perform quick procedures without analgesia.
  • Reluctance to use analgesics due to side effects.
  • Fear of inducing dependence on opioid drugs.
  • Lack of awareness of painless routes and methods of analgesia.

Conclusion

This by no means a scientific or a large scale study. However, it does highlight that a large amount of parents struggle to give their baby Calpol (including us). To help, we asked a small sample of our friends on various parenting Facebook groups to share some of their tips to tackle this problem.

Tips to give your baby Calpol and Ibuprofen

I will happily give my child pain relief when I know that they are in pain or has a temperature. If it’s something I’m not sure on I will always call and speak to a doctor for advice before I give them pain relief. I definitely don’t agree with parents giving this kind of medicine to children to help them go to sleep (I’ve known of quite a few that do this). Depending on their mood I will give them a spoon as sometimes getting it all over and done with at once is much easier and even if they spit some out they have at least got some. Alternating 2 hourly between both calpol and ibuprofen really helps my son when he’s teething.
Aim the syringe into their cheek rather than directly into their mouth. This helps to keep as much of it in there as possible. Rather than triggering their gag reflect or them simply spitting straight out. Giving the dosage in small bursts helps too rather than overwhelming them with the whole amount at once.
I try to avoid medication as much as possible but will give infant pain killers for bad fevers or extreme teething pain. A syringe is the most accurate and the easiest way to give it to babies. If you hold it between your baby’s lips and give a little bit at a time, they can’t spit it out. An extra pair of hands is always helpful too!
Our was 8 weeks old at the time and exclusively breastfeed. So we had to give him the calpol whilst breastfeeding, as he would not have taken it otherwise. We just took him of the breast, gave him the calpol with the syringe and put him back on the breast straight after. This was the only way he would take it.
If they have a problem with the taste, try mixing it into yogurt or applesauce, or even dipping or mixing into a little homemade juice popsicle! Cold Popsicles can be especially nice if they're feverish.
Some babies don't like the taste/texture of medicine, so wait until they're due a feed if possible. They're more likely to take the dose without spitting up if they are hungry and expecting it to be milk.
For my eldest (now age 3) she was just so good at taking it via spoon and syringe. However, sadly my now 2year old is a nightmare and we can only give her it when she is pinned down, we have found that it's easier when you syringe it into the inside of her cheek a little at a time so she doesn't spit it back out. Another trick we have tried is mixing it with plain yogurt.
Make sure when using a syringe you got to the back left of their mouth/throat as they will swollow it. Also make it a nice and relaxing experience the more you stress about it the more they will become upset about the situation
Make it into a fun game with a song and a silly dance, and use the syringe with some of their favourite drink in it first so they associate it with something tasty. A reward afterwards will help them bear it as well, especially if they don't like the taste.
I prefer to use ibuprofen over acetaminophen because it seems to be more effective for both fever and pain. My youngest is usually resistant to taking medicine, so I will put the suggested amount into a syringe and then squeeze it into a small cup of watered-down juice. The medicine is usually a fruit flavor anyway, so once it's mixed around he can never tell!
Syringe is very handy, it is accurate for the amount, and allows parent to feed the baby easily. parents can adjust how fast or slow to feed their kid, and it’s harder for kids to reject feeding by this method.
Lydia
We have fed our child with Calpol numerous times first we used a spoon but he was more inclined to refuse when spoon fed. We then moved onto a syringe and he takes that very well, in fact he enjoys having calpol from a syringe often pointing at the 'medicine' and requesting that we feed it him, even when he's perfectly fine!
Use the syringe, or if he/she wont take it, mix it with foods so they get the medicine they need without forcing a syringe or spoon in their mouth. I have found this the easiest option as my little one has to take a medicine three times a day, but doesn't like the taste of it so he wont open his mouth for the syringe.
Stacey
At times we mixed it into our son's light squash if he wouldn't take the syringe. This was particularly helpful whilst he was teething badly. We'd measure it out and squirt it into his bottle/cup and mix it in. Worked a treat!
We first gave our daughter calpol at 8 weeks on the doctors advice. They are qualified to make decisions and have the expert knowledge. I would take medication if unwell so it is logical that I would give medicine to my child when unwell too.
Use the syringe and then place into the bottle teeth and baby will think they are getting a bottle and be gone before you know it and no mess or loss of any! Can also use a medication soother that you fill and they suck the calpol out.
Mix with milk or juice if needed - and small steps. They don’t have to have the whole syringe in one mouthful. I also found it really useful to have a syringe of juice myself so he copied me having the Calpol!
if you squirt the Syringe in the side of bangles mouth, it leads to less being spat out and therefore more affective. Also having a sachet or twoin your change bag comes in handy when out and about of your baby gets a fever
Carefully use the syringe doing a little bit at a time, so as not to overload your little one. Carefully follow the instructions to make sure you don't give your baby too much. You can give them both Ibuprofen and Calpol if it's necessary, but try to keep an overlap. So if you're giving them ibuprofen and it's 4 hours until they can have their next dose of that, give them Calpol 2 hours later.

References

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