Teaching your kids to swallow pills (with free bonus math section)
© 2015 Roy Benaroch, MD
Holly (a regular! thanks!) wrote in: “Dr. Roy, are the any tips/tricks on teaching kids how to swallow a pill? I tried to get my 9-year-olds to take the tiniest of probiotics recently, and it was an epic fail!”
I’ve got no guarantees, here—it turns out that at least some adults never learn to swallow pills whole, which I guess is why Viagra is available as a chewable. But I think a 9 year old might be willing to try to learn. Some tricks can maybe help!
Start with mini-M&Ms. They’re little and cute and small and smooth, and (as you well know) they don’t melt in your hands. If Junior can handle an M&M mini, graduate to full-sized M&Ms, and then even to those monster peanut ones if you’re feeling lucky.
There are also sprays to make a pill more “slippery” – and, bonus, to make them taste like strawberry. I suppose butter-flavored Pam would also work. Here, try this oily pill that tastes vaguely like popcorn. OK, maybe that’s a bad idea.
Then there’s the tried-and-true, just huck it down your throat and drink some water. After it works once or twice, kids usually get over the mental block, and don’t need any help getting pills down. Though I’d still hide the Viagra.
Bonus Math Section
In case you hadn’t noticed, liquid medications are a complete rip-off. An average 12 year old weighs about 90 pounds, and the correct dose of ibuprofen for that weight is 400 mg—that’s either two adult pills, or 4 tsp (20 mL) of the liquid. Using the brand name Advil and the prices on Amazon, a single dose using pills (300 pills for $16) would be about 10 cents. Using Advil tasty grape flavor, 4.29 per 4 oz,, I get 70 cents a dose. Besides, pills are easy to carry, and the generics are even cheaper. Let’s get those kids swallowing!