By by Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter, HealthDay Reporter
SUNDAY, July 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Sometimes it is difficult for parents to get their child to take the necessary medication.
An expert who spends part of her workday guiding parents through this challenge offers some suggestions to make the ordeal easier.
Emily Glarum, a pediatric life specialist at the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, offers these tips: Be honest, practice it, give choices, set a schedule, and have the child take small sips or use a straw.
“We like to promote fairness,” Glarum said in a hospital press release. Hiding medicines in food can make children feel cheated and cause some distrust or even aversion to other foods.
“What I’ve run into in the past is that the child starts to discover that their medicine is mixed with food, and then they can either stop eating that food altogether, or be more aware of the food they’re eating and think, ‘Oh, are they mixing drugs with it?'” she said.
While Glarum recommends not hiding medicine in food, if kids prefer the medicine mixed in food or drink, that’s okay as long as they’re aware of it.
“Make sure kids are aware and honest about why they need the drug in a way they can understand. For example, something like, ‘We’re trying to make your knees feel better with this’ or ‘We’re trying to make your stomach feel better’. feel better,” she said. “Especially if it’s a drug that they have to take long-term, that can help them gain some understanding and control over it.”
Start and stick to a consistent “drug time” schedule, Glarum suggested.
Offer choices when it works to do so. For example, let your child choose to receive liquid medication through a dropper or cup. Or leave the choice of water or juice to wash down a pill. Medication times can also be a bit flexible, such as letting your child choose whether to take the dose before or after a bath.
Make time to practice taking medications, especially if you’re switching from liquids to pills. A fear of choking can be a hurdle, Glarum said. She has a child practice with smaller candies and then builds it up to something approaching the size of the pill.
“For example, if we had a pill the size of a cone, you’d start with something smaller, like little dots or geeks,” Glarum said. “From there, we can move to mini M&Ms, full-sized M&Ms and Skittles, all the way to Mike and Ikes, which are about the size of a standard tablet.”
This helps them build their comfort level, she noted.
If your child doesn’t like the taste of a liquid medicine, you can sip it in small portions and then chase each mini-dose with a little water or any drink they like.
Offer a small reward between doses, such as working on a coloring book or placing a Lego block on a structure, Glarum said.
An alternative for a child who does not want to drink liquids to flush medications is to use a straw. It can provide a good distraction and create a force strong enough to quickly flush a pill.
“It helps give them a little more confidence,” Glarum said, “because it goes down easier.”
For a baby, you can use a syringe and place drops between the cheek and tongue of the baby so that each drop can be swallowed until the full dose is reached.
SOURCE: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, press release, July 18, 2022
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