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How to teach a child to swallow a pill

One hurdle we had to overcome with Joshua was the fact that he was very orally defensive. This means he couldn’t tolerate anything in his mouth. Dental trips were difficult for him though we had an amazing dentist who took his time and worked with Joshua slowly. I learned from our dentist, Dr. Bubenik, that when Joshua was rushed, he became anxious and then it was near impossible to do anything with him. When we realized he would have to take pills, opening the capsules posed some problems. Our family took a trip to Mexico in which I had a large area of a suitcase devoted to portable pudding. We had to teach our child how to swallow pills.

I tried some ideas like getting him to swallow tic tacs or placing the pill in different areas of his mouth. We did have a little bit of success putting the pill in pudding. Nothing seemed to work completely.

I found an online site that sold the smallest available capsules. We started with a size 3 and filled it with sugar. He put it in his mouth and reflexively bit it. No nasty tasting medicine to make him gag, just sugar. Now that the anxiety was over, he tried again. It didnt work. I believe it was 4 or 5 days before he actually did it. We would practice every night before he took his medicine. He would try a couple of times and then we would move on. Patience is key here so the kids keep on trying. Finally, he got it! It was touch and go for about a week and a half. Teaching a child to swallow pills does not happen overnight. Some nights it would happen, some nights it wouldn’t. When he became consistent, we moved to a larger capsule, a size 2 and repeated the whole deal.

When he started the Augmentin, oh boy, those are huge. By this time he could take about anything, as long as it was a capsule. I split the 500mg Augmentin lengthwise and slipped it into 2 capsules. The rest we made up with liquid Augmentin. (By the way, liquid Augmentin leaves a nasty film on the teeth, but with visits to the dentist every few months, it came off) I found a wonderful website that sells flavored capsules. We’ve used grape, strawberry and orange..this was helpful when we got to the larger capsules.

Joshua has difficulty with large pills, but is fine with capsules. I never wanted to give my child any form of pill, but unfortunately we will have to for a little while longer. PANDAS children usually have deficiencies that need a little boost. Now he is just taking supplements such as fish oil and vitamin D. It has made our lives much easier and was worth the extra time.

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