Owen has a g-tube. For the first several years of his life, all of his medications were liquid and we simply put them through the tube. Then he switched to the Ketogenic diet. Since liquid medicine has more carbs, they were no longer an option. For the first time, I had to figure out how to get him to swallow pills.
The doctor recommended simply crushing the pills and mixing them with water to run through the tube. That didn’t work. I kept clogging the tube and that was a mess.
So I started experimenting with ways to get Owen to swallow his medication.
The easiest way I found was to simply put the medication on a spoonful of something that Owen was eating. When he was on his special diet, it was usually Jello mixed with heavy cream.
Now that he’s off the diet, it’s most often applesauce or yogurt.
Since then, I’ve also taught Jayme and Jeffrey to swallow pills using this method. It works! Here’s some important tips I discovered along the way.
1. Don’t Mix the Meds Into the Dish of Food
I made this mistake with Owen a couple of times before I finally figured it out! You don’t want to mix the medication into the food.
Doing this means your child has to eat the entire dish. It also means it’s way harder to track which pills actually make it down the hatch.
2. Place Each Pill Directly on the Spoon
Instead of dumping the medication into the food, place each pill carefully on a spoonful of food. That way you can feed it directly and ensure it makes it where it’s supposed to go.
I’ve found it best to do one spoonful for each individual pill, but you can definitely experiment with doing two or more at the same time.
3. Pick a Food Your Child Likes
You don’t want your child to fight this process. Pick a food that’s highly enjoyed. Since my kids all like applesauce, that’s our go-to for any pills that need to be taken.
4. Pick Foods That Don’t Need Chewed
This is key! Most medication that needs swallowed tastes disgusting! You don’t want your child to chew it.
Give your child a food that is just swallowed instead of one that needs chewed first. Doing so saves many taste buds!
5. Transition to Taking a Pill with Water
I’ve only done this step with my oldest. Owen still won’t swallow pills with only water. But that’s alright. Baby steps!
Once they’ve learned to swallow a pill with food, have your child try placing the pill in their mouth and washing it down with a big drink of water.
If it doesn’t go down the first time, have them try again. If they keep struggling, bring the applesauce back out and do it that way. Then you can try again with water the next time.
Practice When Appropriate
Other than Owen, who requires multiple pills on a twice daily basis, my other kids don’t take much medication. So we don’t have tons of opportunity to practice.
That means when they’re sick or on antibiotics to keep a wound from getting infected, we make the most of the opportunity. Practice when you can.
Have You Taught Your Children to Swallow Pills?
Did you use the food on a spoon method that I did, or something different? I’d love to hear what technique worked best for you in the comments section.