These 10 tips will get your kids to take medicine in no time!
I have been a pharmacist for more than 20 years now. I would have to say the #1 question I get from parents is “how can I get my kids to take their medicine?”
*Disclosure: This post is sponsored by MEDCOAT® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. I have been compensated for my time and to supply an honest review.*
I am not going to try to convince you that this is going to be an easy task. Let’s face it, some medications taste downright terrible. And teaching a little kid how to swallow a pill is nearly impossible. I am going to give you my 10 tips to get your kids to take medicine from a pharmacist that I have learned along the way.
Tip #1: Take a Practice Run
They say “practice makes perfect.” Well, maybe not perfect but it sure does help. So my first tip is to practice with non-medication before you try the real thing.
If it is a liquid medication and your kids have never really taken liquid medications before, practice with an oral syringe filled with juice. I’m gonna be honest here, the juice is probably going to taste better than the medicine itself. But practicing removes the element of surprise. It allows them to understand what it will feel like when the medicine hits their mouth.
If it is a pill form that you are working with things can get a little more tricky. If your kids are old enough that you are not overly concerned about choking anymore then you can try a practice run with some Tic Tacs® or mini M&M’s®. Have them try to swallow the candy similarly to swallowing pills.
Tip #2: Let Them Be In Control (or at least think they are)
Most kids don’t like being told what to do. Surprise, surprise! If a child feels like they have some control over the situation then they are more willing to cooperate.
So this trick is about giving them choices and letting them think they are in control of the situation. For example, let them choose if they want to take their liquid medication in a cup or an oral syringe. Do they want to take it themselves, or do they want you to help? Would it help with the taste if they had a little bit of juice to drink right after the medication?
These are just little things that help kids feel less out of control. Trust me, this reverse psychology works!
Tip #3: Teach Kids to Swallow Pills at a Young Age
Pill or capsule formulations do not taste nearly as bad as most liquid medications. Kids as young as 4 years old can be taught how to swallow pills. I am telling you right now, once they learn how to swallow pills it makes medicine time so much easier.
Even when they learn how to swallow pills or capsules, they can still taste gross. That’s why I love MEDCOAT®. It makes them taste great and easy to swallow. The coating also stimulates saliva production which helps the swallowing process.
The MEDCOAT® applicator is super simple to use and takes literally less than 10 seconds to apply. It can be used for pills and capsules of all different shapes and sizes, even tablets that are cut in half.
MEDCOAT® contains only food ingredients and is sugar, soy, and gluten-free. Do not use MEDCOAT® if you have an allergy to any of its ingredients. Also, do not use for tablets that are meant to be chewable or dissolved before swallowing.
As always, keep MEDCOAT® and all medications out of reach of children. And consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions or concerns.
Tip #4: Bypass the Gag Reflex
You may be surprised but you can do some things to avoid the gag reflex when taking medication. Some doses should be divided so there is not so much for them to swallow at once. Also, when using an oral syringe be sure to squirt towards the inside of the cheek rather than the back of the throat.
Tip #5: Add Flavoring
I bet you know that you can have liquid prescription medication flavored at the pharmacy. But, did you know that they can also flavor some oral over the counter medications? Yup, that’s right. Not all pharmacies do this but it doesn’t hurt to ask especially for things that don’t taste great like OTC allergy medications.
You can also flavor pills and capsules with MEDCOAT®. It helps flavor pills to make them taste better and easier to swallow. MEDCOAT® comes in 3 delicious flavor options, citrus, strawberry, and cola. This is a total game-changer for hard to swallow or bad tasting uncoated tablets.
Tip #6: Rewards are King
We all know that rewards are a motivation for most children. How many stickers or chocolate candies did you give out during the potty training days? Now you see what I’m talking about here.
You can do whatever works for your family. Sticker charts work well. Every time they take their medicine, they get a sticker on the chart. When they get to a certain number of stickers, they get a small prize.
A small candy reward or a juice “chaser” also work well as rewards. Especially if these are not treats that your kids get to have very often.
Tip #7: Ask About Different Formulations
Many medications come in all different formulations, liquid, capsule, chewable tablet. You know what works best so it doesn’t hurt to ask your doctor if a different formulation is available.
Also, if your doctor prescribes a medication that needs to be taken multiple times a day ask for a once a day alternative medication if possible. If you know this is already going to be a struggle then doing it 2-3 times a day might be downright impossible.
Tip #8: Mix Things Up
Some medications can be mixed in a small amount of juice or foods like applesauce. If you think this will help your kids, be sure to ask the doctor or pharmacist if it’s okay.
I have also heard some tricks about coating the spoon in chocolate syrup or something sweet and then adding the medication. I have never actually tried these myself, but I could see how they might work.
Tip #9: Let Them Play Doctor
Before you think I’m crazy with this one, kids love to mimic things. Let them pretend to give the medicine to their teddy bear or their favorite doll. Then tell them to show their doll or bear how big boys and girls take their medicine.
Kids love to be proud of themselves. Even when it is only in front of their stuffed animals. They love to show off too.
Tip #10: Time to Get Nosey
If the taste of the medication is really bothersome to the point of no return. Have them hold their nose and then take it. By restricting the sense of smell, it helps to restrict the sense of taste.
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