How to Give Your Kids Medication

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right? Well, it isn’t always quite that simple, especially when it comes to kids. Swallowing a pill or an unpleasant-tasting liquid can be scary for little ones, but here are four tips to make it easier:

1. Offer Encouragement 

Is your child afraid of the yucky taste? Promise something yummy to drink right afterward to counteract it. For kids scared of choking, remind them that they successfully swallow food every day that’s often much bigger than a pill.

2. Practice First 

Try practicing with something small, like sprinkles. You can then move on to a candy that’s slightly bigger, like Nerds, M&Ms, and Tic Tacs. By the time your child can swallow a Good & Plenty, he or she will be ready for a pill.

3. Show, Don’t Tell

Don’t underestimate the power of modeling behavior. Demonstrating good technique yourself can help ease kids’ fears.

4. Have a Few Tricks Up Your Sleeve

There are lots of strategies to help kids (and adults!) who have trouble swallowing medication. Flavored throat sprays, specialized pill cups, and head posture training are a few that have been proven to work.

More than 50 percent of children have trouble swallowing a standard-sized pill or capsule.

Age 4 or 5 is a good time to introduce the idea of swallowing a pill or liquid medicine. If you put it off too long, it could be more difficult to get your child to take medication as he or she gets older. This can be a problem into adolescence and even beyond.

What factors play into a child’s success in swallowing medicine?

  • Developmental stage

  • Fear and anxiety

  • Intolerance of unpleasant flavors

  • Failure to understand the risks associated with not taking the medicine

Don’t crush a pill! It may be tempting to make a pill smaller for your child, but unless it’s designed to be chewable, it won’t work as intended.

Online Medical Reviewer:

Date Last Reviewed: Unavailable

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.