By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

A dad getting a baby to take medicine isn’t as easy as it seems. Even small babies seem to have an uncanny sense that you’ve spiked their evening bottle with medicine, and if your partner is breast-feeding, spiking the boob with baby Motrin just isn’t going to work.

When drawing up a dose of medication, remember that a kitchen teaspoon isn’t always a teaspoon; it can range from half a teaspoon to 2 or more. One U.S. teaspoon equals 5 milliliters or cubic centimeters, usually abbreviated cc. Milliliters, known as ml, and cc are the same thing.

So if the dose for your child’s age is half a teaspoon, it’s 2.5 ml or cc. To measure these miniscule amounts, you need a specially marked syringe, which pharmacies often provide with medication. If yours doesn’t, beg for one.

Because a wrestling match will end up with far more medication on your shirt and on the floor than in the baby, try the following tips when you really need your baby to take medicine:

  • Mix the medicine with a small amount of a sweet-tasting food like baby applesauce. Unfortunately, even small amounts of medications often change the flavor of the food, so don’t put a tiny bit of medicine into a large amount of food hoping to dilute the taste enough so that baby will eat it.

    Chances are, she won’t eat all the food, and you won’t know how much medicine she actually got. Mix the medication into just a few bits of food she likes and you may have a fighting chance of getting it into the baby.

  • If you mix medication into formula, don’t spike the whole bottle because this will be the first time in your baby’s entire life that she doesn’t chug down an entire 6 ounces of formula. Mix it into 1 ounce so she finishes it before she realizes there’s something rotten in Denmark.

  • Use a syringe to squirt the medicine into the baby’s mouth. Insert the syringe gently into the corner of her mouth; don’t try to force her mouth wide open, unless you want to wear cherry-flavored Tylenol for the rest of the day. Push the syringe plunger down slowly but steadily, gently holding her lips closed, and hope for the best.

  • You can give some medications in rectal suppositories. This may not sound like a really great solution, but inserting a suppository into the rectum is easier sometimes than getting medicine into a recalcitrant mouth. Just don’t put a rectal suppository into the child’s mouth, and be sure to push the suppository in very gently, using just the tip of your finger.

  • If your child isn’t an infant, firmly tell her that she has to take her medicine. You may not believe this now, but kids often know when you really mean business, and they comply. It’s a miracle when it happens.