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Tips and Tricks to Help Your Kids Swallow Pills

Help your kids take their medication without tears.

Copyright 2015 by Amanda Gaudrée. Used with permission.
Source: Copyright 2015 by Amanda Gaudrée. Used with permission.

Having your children swallow pills is a big step from just taking liquid medication. The process can be a frustrating one both for parent and child. Continue reading for tips and tricks for helping your child swallow pills.

(As always, this information is not a substitute for contacting your prescriber. You are urged to contact your prescriber if you have any questions about your child's health and medication.)

For this post, I turned to my intern, who has been taking medication for ADHD for most of her life. Amanda tells her story and provides tips, including techniques her parents used to help her take her medication. Just a reminder — always check with your prescriber if you have any questions about your child's medication, including the best ways to take that medication.

"When I first started taking stimulant medication, I was around six years old. At six, I found it a challenge to swallow pills. This would not have presented much of a problem normally. However, because I have ADHD severe enough to make stimulant medication necessary, the inability to swallow pills became a source of contention. So the following tips are to help ease children into taking medication. These tricks and tips are the compilation of both my own experiences and of the experiences of others.

1. Mini M&M Madness

"One of the first ways to teach your child to swallow pills is by using candy. Specifically, mini M&Ms. Mini M&Ms are small enough that they can be used as a pill substitute to teach your child how to swallow medication. This was a method that my own parents used when I was young.

"The way to do this is really quite simple — you turn learning how to swallow medication into a game! You simply set out the mini M&Ms along with a glass of water. Then tell your child that each time he or she passes the bowl, swallow one mini M&M with a sip of water. The trick is to swallow the candy without keeping the pill in your mouth long enough for the color to transfer to your tongue.

"The reason why you must impose this “time limit” is that some stimulant medications do not have a protective coating around them. This means that if you do not swallow the medication quickly enough then it starts dissolving in your mouth. This means that the pill becomes even harder and more unpleasant to swallow.

"The reason why it is important to practice taking the medication with water is that you want to ensure that your child always takes their medication with water. Water helps lubricate and protect the throat so it is easier (and safer) to swallow the pill. With more practice, this behavior will become a habit.

2. Nose Goes

"One of the things that I have found that works, despite how strange it seems, is holding your nose. You simply put the pill in your mouth, grab some water, hold your nose, close your eyes, and swallow. The reason that this works is that by holding the nose, you are stimulating the eustachian tube that affects swallowing. The method of holding your nose is also particularly helpful when the medication has a bad taste because holding the nose restricts your sense of smell, therefore restricting your sense of taste.

3. Applesauce Attack

"There is one other surefire aid that makes it easier to take your medication, other than water. That aid is applesauce. Once again this may sound strange, however, if you grab a spoonful of applesauce and take your pill it makes it much easier. (Make sure you check with your doctor to make sure this is okay.) Additionally, by eating the applesauce it ensures that you have some food in your stomach, which in turn protects your stomach lining from some medications.

"One note on this — while applesauce is generally okay to take with stimulants, be wary of other acidic fruit juices such as grapefruit and orange juice. Some of these juices can impact the absorption and effectiveness of the medication.

4. Ice Cream Please

"If none of these tricks work, check with your doctor and read through the description packet that comes with your child's medication. Some medications can be either crushed or opened and mixed with food. What this means is that you can then take the crushed pill or the contents of the pill and mix it with something your child likes. For example, my parents put my pill in ice cream; other options are applesauce and yogurt. Crushing and mixing the pills can reduce stress for you and your child."

Contribution by Amanda Gaudrée

Copyright 2015 Sarkis Media

For more, be sure to check out my website.

Disclaimer: This article is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. This article provides general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call, consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider.