After many years of opening up capsules and trying to hide medications and supplements in applesauce, yogurt, and anything else I could find, or making sure something comes in a liquid form, I decided to try to teach my daughter to swallow a pill. Swallowing pills is an important skill for children to learn as they get older. It can be scary for some kids, and while there’s no need to force it, there are ways to make it a little easier. Here are a few tips on how to get children to swallow pills.
A child can practice with something small and safe. Ice cream sprinkles are a good place to start. Some suggestions I’ve seen are mini chocolate chips, mini m&ms, and even tic-tacs. (Here’s where I have to say make sure you discuss the difference between candy and pills with your children. This doesn’t need much explanation, but of course this is something to be pretty clear on with your children.)
Encourage your child
As I said, sometimes swallowing a pill can be scary, so make sure your child goes into this feeling confident. It may help to remind her of other skills she’s mastered despite having been nervous to try.
Mix it up
Mixing a pill with a soft food item could help mask the pill to the point that the child hardly notices it’s there. Applesauce, yogurt, and peanut butter are all great options here.
Use the power of the straw
Place a pill on your child’s tongue, then let her use a straw to sip up water, or whatever liquid you’re using. Often times, the feeling of the straw in the mouth is a distraction from feeling the pill in there, too.
Keep it up
Keep trying and keep encouraging. Patience is important here. This usually takes some practice, but hopefully, before you know it, you’ll no longer have to “hide” anything in the applesauce!
What tips and tricks have you had success with?
Dani Gillman is Cofounder and Head of Marketing at Birdhouse– a Detroit-based startup empowering parents raising children with special needs to learn more about their children through a behavior journaling app for iPhone, Android and the web. She’s also mom to a 10 year old daughter (who happens to have Autism) and a 1 year old son (who has yet to appreciate the value of naps).