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Hair Handling and Medicine Methods

Hair brush

Serge Bloch

Untangling That Hair

If your child has long hair, use a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner to make it easier. Giving the hair some slack, try gently pulling apart any knots you can with your fingers first, suggests Erin Greene, a stylist at Doolittle's, a children's hair salon in Charlotte, North Carolina. Don't start brushing or combing from the scalp down; that just makes tangles worse. Instead, hold one section of her hair at a time near the scalp and begin brushing or combing from the ends. Then slowly work your way up. "If you do it this way, she won't feel it when you're getting all the knots out," says Greene. To distract your daughter, you might also let her hold her favorite doll and brush her hair at the same time. Or turn on Dora. Rachel Knighten, of Appleton, Wisconsin, says that whenever her girls get upset about brushing, she reminds them that long hair is a privilege. "If they won't let me take care of it, then we can cut it to a more manageable length."

Washing Hair

Using a tear-free shampoo, sculpt your child's lathered-up hair into fun designs, then have her count to see how fast you can rinse. Keep water out of her eyes by using a dry washcloth, swim goggles, a foam visor, or even a terry-cloth headband. You can also get a gadget called a Shampoo Rinse Cup, which has a soft rubber lip you press against your child's head ($6; toysrus.com).

Making the Medicine Go Down

For an infant, first recline him in a bouncy seat, then squirt the medicine into one side of his mouth with a syringe or a dropper and gently squeeze his cheeks until he swallows. He'll do this as soon as he feels the liquid in the back of his throat, explains Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, M.D., co?author of Heading Home With Your Newborn. You can also try using a medicine dispenser shaped like a nipple or a pacifier, or a product called ReliaDose (which is basically a baby bottle with a syringe inside) that lets you give the medication while your child is eating ($15; reliadose.com).

You have lots of options with a child older than 1. Try giving him a little honey or maple syrup before the medicine to help mask the bitter taste. Or teach your child to hold his nose while taking a bad-tasting medicine and then follow up with a pleasant-tasting chaser like grape juice or a spoonful of jelly. If the doctor says it's okay, you can mix some medicines into a few ounces of juice, applesauce, or another soft food. (Just make sure your child eats or drinks all of it so he gets the full dose.) You can also ask your pharmacist to add a different flavor to medicine. If your child needs to take a pill, it may be easier for him swallow it with something thick like pudding instead of water. Or try the special Oralflo pill-swallowing cup ($15; oralflo.com).

Always try to give your child choices so he feels like he has some control over the situation, says Hal Runkel, a licensed family therapist and author of Screamfree Parenting. Let him decide whether he'll take his medicine while standing up or sitting down, and choose the food or drink to chase it with. Then tell him: "You don't have a choice about whether you're going to take the medicine, but you do have a choice about how," suggests Runkel.

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