[Skip to content]


How to give your child liquid medicines

Using an oral syringe

  • Wash your hands.
  • Make sure your child is sitting upright.
  • Shake the medicine bottle unless stated otherwise on the label.
  • Remove the top from the bottle and insert the bottle adapter if necessary.
  • Insert the tip of the oral syringe into the bottle adapter.
  • Turn the bottle upside down and pull the plunger until the medicine reaches the right dose.
  • Gently remove the tip of the oral syringe from the bottle adapter.
  • Put the top back on the bottle.
  • Put the tip of the oral syringe inside your child’s mouth.
  • Gently push the plunger to squirt small amounts of medicine into the side of your child’s mouth.
  • Allow your child to swallow before continuing to push the plunger.
  • Give your child a drink to wash down the medicine.
  • When you have given the whole dose, wash the syringe in warm, soapy water unless directed otherwise on the label..


  • Do not squirt all of the medicine into your child’s mouth in one go – he or she may choke.
  • Do not aim the syringe at the centre of your child’s mouth – aim at the area between the gums and the inside of his or her cheek.
  • Check the dose before giving to your child. Some syringes are marked in millilitres (ml) and some in milligrams (mg).
  • Only use warm, soapy water to wash the syringe as some cleaning fluids remove the dose markings.

Using a medicine cup or spoon

  • Wash your hands.

  • Shake the medicine bottle before opening.

  • Carefully pour the medicine in the medicine cup or medicine spoon according to the dose on the label.

  • Give the dose to your child.

  • Give them a drink to wash down the medicine.

  • Put the top back on the bottle.

  • When you have given the whole dose, wash the spoon or cup in warm, soapy water.


  • Always use the medicine cup or spoon enclosed with the bottle. Do not use a household teaspoon as this will not give an accurate dose.

Looking after the liquid medicine

  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before giving it to your child.
  • Ask your pharmacist about storing the medicine. Some needs to be kept in the fridge but others only need to be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Read the instructions and only use the liquid medicine as instructed.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.
  • Always check that you are giving the correct dose of medicine as some medicines are available in different strengths.
  • If the medicine passes its expiry date or your child stops using it, please return it to your pharmacist. Do not flush it down the toilet or throw it away.

If you have any questions about your child’s liquid medicine, please ask your family doctor (GP) or local community pharmacist.

More information

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) switchboard: 020 7405 9200

  • Pharmacy Medicines Information: 020 7829 8608

Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: July 2013

Ref: 2013F0775 July 2013

Compiled by the Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group

Please read this information in conjunction with any patient information leaflet provided by the manufacturer. However, please note that this information explains about the use of medicines in children and young people so may differ from the manufacturer’s information.

Each person reacts differently to medicines so your child will not necessarily suffer every side effect mentioned. This information does not constitute health or medical advice and will not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor. No liability can be taken as a result of using this information.