“Ask Dr. Weiss & The Weiss Pediatric Care Team” Series

January 2015

Each month, Dr. Weiss & The Weiss Pediatric Care team publishes a response to one of our parent’s or patient’s health related questions – everything  from signs, symptoms, and treatment of illnesses to sibling squabbles, sleep issues, and school concerns.  Whatever’s on your mind when it comes to physical, developmental, social, emotional, and academic well-being.

Here’s January 2015’s question from Jordyn , 10 years old.

 “When do I starting taking pills over liquid meds, such as Motrin?

Great question, Jordyn!  Here’s Dr. Weiss’s answer:

Some children can learn to swallow pills as early as 6 or 7 years old, though the average age is 10.  Which means…you will probably be able to learn to swallow pills anytime now!

Jordyn, here are some tips for your parents and other parents too, who want to help their children make the transition from liquid medicines to pill forms:

  • Whatever age you start teaching, make sure your child isn’t at risk for choking, so no preschool age kids or toddlers.
  • Don’t wait until your child is sick to try to learn how to swallow a pill. Try when he is well and doesn’t actually need to swallow a pill yet.
  • Practice pill-swallowing by cutting gummy worm candy into small pieces to simulate small pills or capsules, gradually working your way up to larger sizes
  • Practice pill-swallowing with a Tic-Tac, choosing a favorite flavor so that if it doesn’t work, your child just has the Tic-Tac in his mouth and not a disintegrating pill or capsule.
  • Choose candy sizes in four or five different sizes with which to practice, like you might find in a cake or cupcake decorating kit. This way you can start with something as small as a sprinkle and then work your way up in size as your child is able to swallow the item a few times.
  • Encourage your child to put the pill (or Tic-Tac) on the center of the tongue and then try to drink a whole glass of water through a straw. Hopefully, she’ll concentrate on the straw and not think about the pill going down.
  • The “big gulp method” – put the pill on your child’s tongue and then tell him to fill his mouth with a lot of water, swish the water all around for 15 seconds, and then swallow.
  • Have your child chew some food, like a cracker or piece of bread, and then place the capsule on his tongue just as he is about to swallow the food.