Children’s hospital in Hamilton showing how to get kids to swallow pills amid ongoing shortages


Published August 22, 2022 at 12:12 pm

The current shortage of common children’s pain relievers has prompted McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton to offer pro tips to caregivers for getting their tiny humans to swallow pills.

Recently, MCH posted an Instagram video where Mr. Heather McKean, child life specialist, McMaster Children’s Hospital, provided instructions on how to give a small child gradual exposure to swallowing pills, which can help reduce spoilage rates. The advice includes starting small by having the child swallow something small, such as a candy sprinkle, before working their way to a candy that is the same size as the pill they will be talking.

Using positive, encouraging language, such as, “I know you will be able to do this,” as well as engaging the child’s imagination with analogies such as, “Imagine your tongue is a water slide and your pill wants to go for a ride, down your tongue and into your tummy,” is also recommended.

A guide from Hamilton Health Sciences also shows how parents can make a game out of it taking a pill. A printable checklist shows how children can level up.

Two other Ontario children’s hospitals in Ontario said last week that they are facing shortages of children’s pain relievers, and have had to adjust how they treat patients.

The Hospital of Sick Children in Toronto is now having health workers write prescriptions for the liquid form of acetaminophen, which is known by the brand name Tylenol. An appropriate dose of a liquidified pain reliever can also be given with a sterile syringe with no needle.

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa said it was encouraging parents to ask about alternatives for fever and pain management.

Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada, an industry group of which Tylenol’s manufacturer is a member, told The Canadian Press that there are “pockets” of Canada where shortages have happened.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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