If your children are getting sick or taking vitamins or prescription medications, it may be time to teach them how to swallow a pill. This can be a daunting subject for both children and parents, especially if they have only ever taken liquid, chewable, or gummy forms of medicine before. As parents, we have seen this before and hope to offer some tips and tricks as to how to get your kids to swallow a pill.
Also Read: How to Teach a Child to Blow Their Nose
When can my child start to swallow a pill?
Children between ages 5-10 can start to learn how to swallow a pill. When you decide to start may depend on their maturity, medical needs, and personal preference. It is best to consult with your doctor, but the earlier they learn, the more likely they will pick up the habit from an early age. You also want to avoid the first time you teach them to be when they have to swallow a pill in order to feel better, for example, an antibiotic. This might make the experience more challenging and stressful for both you and your child.
How to introduce the concept of swallowing a pill
It’s best to introduce the concept of swallowing a pill from an early age whether they see you do it yourself or you slowly introduce them trying it on their own. As we mentioned, it is best to avoid forcing your child and this can happen when they need to take a medication that only comes in pill form. If you get in front of this skill, then they will be prepared and more relaxed when it comes time to actually take a new medicine. As always, it helps when you as the parents are cool and collected about it, so the children will not come to fear the activity. We know it can be tough, so hang in there.
Creative ideas to get your kids to swallow a pill
Oftentimes, we as parents have to come up with ways to make boring tasks fun. Whenever you can make something into a game or positive experience, it will be easier for your kids to try something new. As a result, here are some creative ideas that you can try at home. Of course, we always recommend that you are aware of first aid procedures in case your children should ever start choking. The Red Cross has first aid training information here.
5. Teach them with small candy
One way you can teach your kids to swallow a pill is by using another type of food object first. Tic Tacs are the perfect size to simulate any pill and they taste like candy. This will be less intimidating to try out first. Plus, the candy will dissolve while they suck on it, which can eliminate the fear that it will get stuck in their throat.
Our recommendation is to use mini M&Ms or Tic Tacs. When you bring it up to your children, show them the candy and try eating one or two before you get started. Then, make sure you have a big glass of water that isn’t iced cold and try practicing swallowing the candy whole. It is small enough to be safe and will get them used to the concept with a sugary treat thrown in.
4. Demonstrate how you swallow a pill
It is always helpful when you can show your children how you do something. Many kids learn by doing or need reassurance in a grown up before they try something new. Show them how you take vitamins or medications each day, so that they see you swallowing a pill. If it’s a part of your daily routine, it will make sense that it’s also a part of theirs. Once they are familiar with the concept, sit down and practice together.
3. Hide it in a small cookie bite
Not to make children sound like pets, but you can also hide the pill in a small bite of a treat that you know they will want to eat. For example, a small bite of a fudge brownie would work well if they like chocolate. The idea is that they would chew a bit and then swallow the pill with something else so they don’t think about it too much. Some of the fear of swallowing a pill can cause children to forget how they eat normally. Supervision is important here and you want to make sure the snack and the pill are small enough to swallow.
2. Practice with different drinks
Some children love orange juice while others love soda. It can help if you provide several different drinks for them to try in case that will help them swallow the pill more smoothly. Try giving them chocolate milk, water, a smoothie, and orange juice and see what helps the most. This will vary depending on your child’s preferences. Soda can be tough because of the carbonation. Smooth, milky drinks can be a great alternative to water if you struggle to get your kids to drink water. Lastly, we also recommend avoiding ice because it can make the liquid hard to swallow quickly and will be too cold on their mouth.
1. Reward with a treat or “chaser”
“Chasing” an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one is an adult concept, but it actually can be a helpful tactic when trying to get your kids to swallow a pill. If you provide your child with water and a pill to swallow, you can give them chocolate milk or soda immediately after they swallow it to eliminate a bad taste or fear of choking. They’ll keep washing down the pill with drinks that taste better, making it a quick and painless experience. The best tip here is that you should have everything ready to go before you call attention to your kids. This will save time and mess in your kitchen.
Also Read: How to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables
Additional tips to get your kids to swallow a pill
If they are struggling to get this concept down, then you can try these additional tips to make the process go by smoother and faster.
3. Lean forward
Leaning backwards feels most natural when it’s time to swallow a pill, but this actually makes it more challenging. By leaning forwards, your throat is more open to drink water and swallow the pill. You can supervise your children and suggest that they lean forward or towards the kitchen table to make it easier.
2. Take a deep breath
It is helpful if you tell your children to take a deep breath in and out before they try to swallow a pill. This will prevent them from accidentally holding their breath because they’re nervous. This leads to swallowing air, which could make them cough or spit out the water and pill. If they take a second to breath out and then swallow the pill with water while breathing in through the nose as opposed to the mouth, they will have a much easier time.
1. Place on the tongue
While it might be tempting to throw the pill in their mouth to help facilitate the process, this can lead to coughing and choking. Instead, be sure to have them place the pill on their tongue, so they know where it falls in their mouth before they swallow.
We hope this article gives you the confidence to teach your children how to swallow a pill. With a few sugary tricks, patience, and careful planning, you can ensure the process will not be too stressful and your child will be able to swallow a pill in no time.