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How To Give Rectal Suppositories To Babies

How To Give Rectal Suppositories To Babies

While most medications for children come in liquid syrup or suspensions to be taken orally, some are in the form of rectal suppositories. Often, when parents receive this kind of medicine, they are concerned over being able to administer it correctly. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when a doctor recommends a rectal suppository for baby.

What Is A Rectal Suppository?

A rectal suppository is a medication inserted in the patient’s rectum. Typically, it looks like an elongated pill with one pointed end. Although suppositories are solid, they slowly melt when inside the rectum so the body can absorb the drug’s active ingredients.

Note: Besides rectal, there are also vaginal and urethral suppositories.

Are Rectal Suppositories Only For Constipation?

Considering you insert them into the rectum, many people think that suppositories are only meant to treat constipation. But, that’s not the case.

A suppository for baby may be recommended for the following reasons:

  • The baby cannot take medicines by mouth (for instance, when they are having a seizure)
  • They cannot swallow for some reason.
  • There are blockages in their digestive system that stop that medicine from reaching the stomach.
  • The baby cannot keep their food and drinks down (such as when they are vomiting).
  • The medicine is too harsh on the digestive system.
  • For better absorption
  • The medicine just tastes too bad and the patient cannot tolerate it.

Suppository For Baby: How To Give It To Your Child

Worried about not properly administering rectal suppositories to your child? These guidelines will help you:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. For a soft suppository, before taking the wrapper off, you might need to place the medicine in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can place it under cold, running water. Please follow package instructions or the instructions given by your child’s pediatrician.
  3. Gently remove the plastic or foil wrapping.
  4. If you need to give just a portion of the medicine, cut it lengthwise from end to end, not across the middle.
  5. Put on disposable gloves.
  6. Position your child on their side, with their lower leg straightened and upper leg lifted towards their stomach.
  7. With your gloved hands, separate your baby’s butt cheeks to better see their anus. Insert the suppository (pointed end first) into your child’s rectum. Aim it towards their belly button and try to insert it within half an inch to an inch from the rectal opening. Inserting it too deeply may cause it to pop back out. Should it come out, insert it by following the same steps.
  8. In case it seems difficult for the suppository to slide into the rectum, try applying a water-based lubricant. DO NOT use petroleum jelly.
  9. After successfully inserting the suppository for baby, hold their bottom for a few seconds and keep them lying down for about 15 minutes. This reduces the risk of the medicine from popping back out.
  10. Discard used materials properly and wash your hands thoroughly.

How To Properly Store Suppositories?

Depending on the provided dosage, you may need a couple of suppositories to complete your child’s treatment. Here are some guidelines for storing them:

  • Keep the suppositories (or any medicine) out of children’s sight and reach.
  • Keep the suppositories in their original packaging and store them in a cool, dry place.
  • See package instructions if you need to keep them in the fridge.

Key Takeaways

In times when your baby cannot take oral medicines, their doctor might give them a rectal suppository. These medicines are in solid form but slowly melt once in the rectum. Generally, you administer the suppository for the baby by inserting it about ½ to 1 inch from the rectal opening. Then you should hold the butt cheeks closed for a few seconds, and let the child lie for about 15 minutes.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Suppository instructions, https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=992&language=English. Accessed June 21, 2022

How to give your child suppositories, https://www.gosh.nhs.uk/conditions-and-treatments/medicines-information/how-give-your-child-suppositories/, Accessed June 21, 2022

Infant and toddler health, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/infant-constipation/faq-20058519, Accessed June 21, 2022

Rectal suppository, https://intermountainhealthcare.org/ckr-ext/Dcmnt?ncid=525985160, Accessed June 21, 2022

Over-the-Counter Medications for Kids – Part 2: Constipation, Gas/Indigestion And Probiotics
https://www.texaschildrens.org/blog/2014/05/over-counter-medications-kids-%E2%80%93-part-2-constipation-gasindigestion-and-probiotics, Accessed June 21, 2022

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated a week ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza