Many children need supplements to achieve optimal health but what to do if they refuse them? This week’s newsletter gives you some help.
Starting nutritional supplement therapy with children can be very stressful for parents. Administering supplements can be overwhelming, especially when children do not swallow pills and strongly resist being forced to consume anything that is not of their choosing.
Giving your child supplements isn’t easy. We know from personal experience! But we also know how important it is to get them to cooperate as the right supplements can make a huge difference to a child’s health.
Below are seven suggestions that have been tried and tested to help overcome the problems of children running away, clenched teeth or spitting back out what is put into their mouths. Whether the supplements you are giving are in capsule, liquid or chewable form, following these steps should help with getting your child to comply. When all else fails, new technology in transdermal delivery has given us another tool – read below for more.
Give supplements with the same level of intensity that you use to give your child a lifesaving medication. Your child needs these supplements to support their brain, immune system, and overall nutritional status. Your child can sense when you mean business and you cannot allow them to think that taking their supplements is optional.
Hiding supplements in food and drinks is ineffective for three reasons. First, this only works for supplements with no taste or smell, and even then you can only get away with one or two supplements at a time. Second, your child may not finish the juice, applesauce, or yogurt you have mixed it in so they are not getting the nutrients they need. Third, (especially important if your child is a picky eater), he or she may become suspicious of what you may or may not have hidden their food. As you add more supplements to their needed regimen, the hidden supplements trick will backfire on you.
You need to consider the sensory/swallowing issues that your child has. Does your child do better with liquids or semi-solids? The two most common mediums in which to mix supplements are baby fruit purées or 1 or 2 tablespoons of strong-tasting liquids. Other liquids suitable to mix supplements in include: pear, pineapple, orange, or water. It is recommended that you only use 1 or 2 tablespoons of liquid and only use the liquid of choice for giving supplements, not for regular drinks, in order to avoid confusion. Remember, the choice of liquids or purées you use should be based upon your child’s condition. You need to take into consideration any allergies, phenol sensitivities and sensitivity to sugar.
This is a critical concept to ensure compliance. Parents can reinforce this concept by repeating it in everyday life experiences, such as, first we turn on the water, then we wash our hands. Even a very young child can learn this concept if it’s repeated enough. For more visual learners, a First-Then board is an excellent tool to illustrate the process. Once this concept is understood, you need to use it consistently to ensure the child learns. Next, choose a favourite activity (eating the next meal, watching a video/the TV, favourite toy, blanket, and so on), for the purpose of withholding it until or after the child takes the supplements successfully. It is important to be firm and never waiver on this because it will ensure that success will come quickly.
Here is a quick video as an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpgPXKgIsnI
NOTE: It is just one of many on YouTube – we have no affiliation with the above makers of the video.
This comes in handy when a child needs extra reinforcement. Give your child a reward, which only comes immediately after he or she takes the supplements. Always give lots of praise and hugs as well as one good-tasting reward that they can associate with taking supplements.
If you are firm and do not give in over the conditions you have set down, most children will start to comply within 2 to 3 days, because they know that they cannot win the battle. Wait them out for as long as you need to, and when they finally give in and take the supplements, quickly give them praise, the preferred activity and the small reward that is given every time they successfully take their supplements. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to be more willing next time.
Many supplements are made to taste yummy these days so please make sure they are stored safely away from your child. Although rare, children can ‘overdose’ on vitamins and minerals and it could make them ill. And always work with a health professional when choosing and dosing supplements for your child.
We recommend our patients buy supplements from the below suppliers. Note any supplement mentioned in the above article is for educational purposes only. You should only try new supplements with your child with the approval of your healthcare practitioner. If you have already gotten approval, please feel free to make use of the exclusive Brainstorm Health® discount codes we have negotiated with our suppliers. Some suppliers support Brainstorm Health® with a small commission which we reinvest into creating quality content like this newsletter to give as much free support to our community as possible.
Discount Code: IA12LW