When Your Child Can’t or Won’t Swallow a Pill
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Have you ever been in a situation where you needed your child to swallow a pill but they didn’t know how? Were you in need of some tips to help your child swallow a pill? Recently, I found myself in that situation when my eight-year-old son smashed his finger and an infection developed under his fingernail. Poor thing, it was so gross! The pediatrician prescribed clindamycin. She wanted him to take the capsules because, apparently, the liquid tasted terrible, even with the added flavoring the pharmacy adds. Plus, there’s also a HUGE price difference when you don’t have insurance and have to pay cash. Capsules are ridiculously cheaper than the liquid.
So, we came home from the pharmacy with the clindamycin capsules, soda, and candy, ready for him to take his first dose. The situation started out hopeful and encouragingly enough, “You can do this, Sweetie, you’re a big boy now. Yay!” My son was smiling along with me, ready to wow me with his new pill swallowing superpower. He put the pill in his mouth, situating it near the back of his tongue, smiled and took a big drink of his soda that I
bribed rewarded him with. A look of confusion crossed his face, “Mom, it’s still there.”
Smiling, I encouraged, “That’s ok, son. That happens sometimes. Try again.” The fake smile plastered on my face hid the unease that was beginning to grow in the pit of my stomach, knowing that this is now going to end with one or both of us crying. My son rearranged the pill near the back of his throat again and took another gulp of soda, tilting his head back this time to help the pill go down. Eyes widened in confusion and panic when he opened his mouth to show me the pill that refused to go down. What could I do?! I encouraged him to try again, so he did, but all the pill did was swim around in the soda then settled into place right behind his front teeth after he tried and failed to swallow it again. But, now, the pill had started to taste bitter because the protective coating had begun to dissolve, causing my son to cringe and gag while protesting, “Never mind, I don’t want to do this anymore! I can’t do it!”
The situation then escalated (degenerated?) to begging, bribing, cajoling, then ordering, “Do not spit that pill out. Swallow it!” My stubbornness kicked in. He had to swallow that pill, he needed to learn how to do it because he has an entire bottle of pills that needed to be taken three times a day for the next week. The frustration and guilt that ensued were enough to make me want to give up because, now, we’re both crying. The pill had completely dissolved in my son’s mouth and drool was hanging off his chin as he made faces and shuddered. Then, with one last shudder, he finally swallowed what was left of the pill. Yay! The relief I felt was short lived because I remembered that we had to do this again in a couple of hours. Nooooooo!!!! Yep.
Jello: The Game-Changer
For the next dosage, my ten-year-old son came up with an absolutely brilliant trick that had my eight-year-old child swallowing pills like a boss. JELLO! Apparently, the day before, my boys had a contest to see who could swallow the biggest bite of jello (I know. Boys, right?), which then inspired my ten-year-old to tell his younger brother he should stick his pill in a big spoonful of jello and just swallow it. So, his younger brother tried it, and it worked. He didn’t have any more problems swallowing any of the remaining pills over the next week. All we had to do was make sure there was plenty of jello every day and he was happy, HAPPY, to take his medicine.
More Tips to Help Your Child Swallow Pills
If that doesn’t work for you, here are more tips on how to help your child swallow a pill:
- Place the pill under your child’s tongue, off to one side, rather than placing the pill on top of their tongue or toward the back of their mouth. Then have them drink water through a straw. The natural flow of swallowing the water will work like a wave, washing the pill down.
- When my mother was sick, the nurse would crush her pills up in applesauce and give them to her like that. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you do that, though. There’s some medication that needs to be swallowed whole and shouldn’t be crushed. I’ve heard of people doing the same with jelly, yogurt, and peanut butter, as well.
- Teach your child to swallow a pill by practicing swallowing (if you have time) with candies, such as cupcake sprinkles, Nerds, mini M & M’s, Tic Tacs, regular size M & M’s, Skittles, Jelly Belly brand jelly beans, Good & Plenty, Mike & Ike.
- Use room temperature or warm water to swallow the pills with.
- Hold your drink of water in your mouth, then put the pill in and swallow.
- Try having them hold their nose. Have them put the pill in their mouth, pinch their nose closed, take a drink and swallow. This works because by holding their nose, they are stimulating the eustachian tube that affects swallowing.
Pill Swallowing Aids
I did find several products on Amazon that helped some people swallow pills. If you read the reviews, you’ll find that these products worked like a miracle for some people and didn’t work at all for others. Be informed, make sure you read all of the reviews and comments before making a purchase.
Some kiddos can swallow pills without any problems. My ten-year-old had no problem swallowing a pill the first time he tried. My sixteen and twelve-year-olds needed a couple of tries before they figured out how to do it and can take pills without any problems now. I still have two younger ones who are currently far too young to even try to take pill medications, but when the time comes for them to try to take a pill, we are definitely going to try it with Jello. Hopefully, it will the miracle solution for them as it was for their older brother!
How about you? Do you have any tips and tricks to offer others who find themselves in a similar situation?
Tag, You’re It!
Melissa (wigglin’ and jigglin’) Shantel