Medicine Taste and Swallowing

Children often avoid taking medication due to the taste, aftertaste, smell or texture. Some medications are bitter or gritty and this is a problem for many children. As children age their number of taste buds decrease and their emotional preferences for foods and flavors change.
Most children prefer sweet tasting substances. The addition of sweeteners such as chocolate or strawberry syrup, maple syrup or sweetened drinks can help. Sucking on a lollipop before and after the medication can also be effective. Flavoring agents are also available from most pharmacies.
Check with your pharmacist to see if the tablet your child is prescribed can be crushed into a powder and mixed with a variety of foods or drinks. It is best to choose a masking agent that can be given in a small quantity to make sure your child takes all the medication. Using a small amount of pudding, ice cream, yogurt, jam or applesauce can be very effective.
If the tablet or capsule cannot be crushed or opened your only choice is to practice swallowing pills.  Consider beginning to practice pill swallowing by age 5 years. It is important you avoid fear that is generated by the gag reflex. Once your child realizes they swallow many foods every day that are much bigger than a pill they are willing to practice swallowing pills. It also helps if you have a built in reward system. Swallowing pills and capsules bypasses the issues with taste, texture and aftertaste.
A basic routine to use for pill swallowing is to have your child take several consecutive sips of a liquid they enjoy. Ask him after each sip to swish it in his mouth and then swallow it. After several sips, ask him to place half of a frozen M and M (use a pill splitter to cut) on the tip of his tongue. Allow him to take another larger sip and swish and swallow it. Voila! The pill has disappeared. Reinforce his success with another whole M and M to chew and swallow.