Note: I originally wrote this post when my daughter was preschool age. She’s a little older now, but I wanted to encourage parents who may have difficulty getting their kids to take supplements.
While I’m an advocate for a kid’s first line of defense being a nutrient-dense-diet, sometimes supplements must come into play for a child’s wellness. When nutrition needs a boost, the question becomes “how do I get your child to take supplements with minimal fuss?”
In our household I take a strong stance on supplements. Addison knows that mommy means business when it comes to her health, and supplements are not a choice! I take the approach of strong parenting on this subject, and as the parent, when I say, “It’s time for supplements!” Addison obeys. I give her freedom in other areas.
For example, Addison can pick out her own clothing. It’s inconsequential to me if Addie looks completely bizarre and mismatched; I don’t care what she wears to school. I care about the state of her body. And therefore, she has to take the supplements. I am the parent, she is the child.
Even though I’m insistent on this point, I do recognize that supplements can be a little hard for children to take. So here are some ways to make the whole process a little easier.
MAKE LIQUIDS YOUR FIRST CHOICE
Addison’s doctor and I try to stick with liquid supplements as much as possible. Solid pills can be a struggle. We also opt for kid-friendly supplements when we can. These are different from store brand over the counter, which are often coated in sugar.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Sometimes the unavoidable happens and Addison is in need of a doozy of a supplement. It’s a hard day when we can’t get what she needs in liquid or kid-friendly form, so I have developed a plan of action for this worst-case scenario. If it’s a really disgusting supplement… I will take the hit for the team and lead by example. If Addison is prescribed 2 zinc tablets and she finds these too offensive, I will show her how it’s done by taking 4 zinc tablets in front of her. I will chew them up and scrunch my face into ridiculous, funny faces, exaggerating the experience until we are both busting out laughing.
She is so entertained that when it’s her turn, the zinc tablets have transformed from an obstacle into an enjoyable experience. She takes the tablets, tries out her own goofiest faces, we are both laughing, and the pills have already been taken. It may be a different tactic for you and your child, but the point is to make it into a fun bonding experience.
TRY A DISGUISE
You can disguise the pill with some laughter or you can disguise it in other ways. If Addison is really having a hard time, I will blend the supplement into something yummy, like frozen mangos. I have heard of other parents getting away with disguising it in a nut butter or apple sauce. If push comes to shove, and you are desperate, try a spoonful of honey.
I no longer have to bribe Addison with a spoonful of honey. Now she reminds me when it’s time to take her supplements. She affectionately calls cod liver oil “fish treats”. If she could she would eat the entire bottle of Tuna-Omega 3 from Standard Process or Cod Liver Oil Junior from Nordic Naturals. She sets such a great example that I have lost any sympathy for my adult patients who whine about the taste of supplements. If my 4 year old can do it…. so can you
I think it’s an important life lesson for children to learn that not everything that’s necessary in life is going to be pleasant. There are many things in life as an adult that we have to do or else we will face consequences. We have to make the hard choices and do what is good for us. This is applicable in so many BIG ways, and a LITTLE thing like a supplement can help your little one learn it!