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Top tips for getting your child to take medicine

While Mary Poppins may have resorted to a spoonful of sugar, you may need to find another way to make the medicine go down.

When your child isn’t feeling well, they may resist taking medication, even if they know it will make them feel better.

Liquid medicine can be unpleasant to swallow (not all come in grape or bubble gum flavours), and pills can be very challenging, especially for young children. According to one study, 50% of children have difficulty swallowing standard-size medications.

We’ve gathered some top pointers on ways to convince your child to take their medication.

Begin early: It’s better to start teaching your children to take medications while they’re young, like 4 or 5 years old, before they acquire a dread of swallowing things. Waiting till kids are eight or nine years old may be too late.

Set a good example: When it comes to how they act and speak, children tend to copy their parents – and taking medicines is no exception. Showing your children how to swallow medications and emphasising how simple it is helps reassure them.

When your child is ready, insert the pill behind their teeth or at the back of the tongue, and adjust the chin so the head is leaned back. Tell them to swallow the pill as if it were a piece of food.

Cover up the taste: Children frequently place a pill in their mouth but do not immediately swallow it. The pill coating then melts, and they have a foul taste, so they spit the pill out. One tried-and-true method is to disguise the taste of medicine with food. A good tip is hiding a pill in a piece of chocolate, for example, or liquid medication in a spoon of ice-cream.

Change things up: If your child has already turned up their nose at the medicine spoon, try giving them the medication in a medicine dropper.

Offer an incentive: A little bribery can go a long way in this instance. Promise your child a small but special prize in return for taking their medicine. Stickers or a little trinket might inspire them to open wide.

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