Getting your child to take his or her medication depends a lot on the age of the child. For babies, all you can do with pills is mash them up and hide them in applesauce or another favorite food and make sure it goes down. Liquid medications can often be put in with formula. A compounding pharmacist can make many medications that do not come in liquid form into liquids, and add a flavor that the child likes. You may have to ask around to find one, and your insurance company may not always pay the cost, but it may be worthwhile just to avoid the aggravation. Each medication is different, so check with your doctor.
If your child is little, it's best to make taking medication a positive experience. However, remember to keep the medication well out of reach, as a small child who is rewarded for properly taking medication might take the whole bottle if he or she finds it. Liquid medicines may be combined with something that the child likes (chocolate milk is popular).
For small children, pills can sometimes be chewed or swallowed. Otherwise, they can be combined with foods that cover the texture and taste, such as chunky peanut butter. Smashed pills can also be put in the middle of cookies such as Oreos. Some parents have found it useful to break pills into pieces and slip them inside gelatinous candies such as gummy bears that have been cut partially open with a sharp knife.
Some pills are coated to make them easier to take or to delay their absorption. Crushing the pill interferes with the purpose of this coating, though sometimes there may be no alternative. However, certain pills are designed to release a controlled amount of medicine over time. These should not be crushed. If you are going to crush a pill, make sure you have discussed this with the doctor first.
For children over the age of six, education is important. They should understand when and why they take their medication, at least in broad general terms. Children over the age of twelve can usually be trusted to take their own medication, but there are always exceptions and you should base your judgment of this on your knowledge of your own child. Even if your child is a responsible teenager, you might ask yourself when the last time you had to refill the prescription was and how many pills are in the bottle. I've had disasters occur when children who were doing well for several years decided they really did not need their medicine anymore. By the time they realized they did need it and their parents and I discovered they were not taking it, it was too late to fix all the damage.
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