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How to give medicines: granules and powders

 

This leaflet gives tips about how to give granules and powders to children. Leaflets on individual medicines are available on the Medicines for Children website.

This leaflet has been written specifically about the use of medicines in children. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

 

GranulesMedicines are sometimes available as granules or powders, which you give to your child by mouth (orally).

 

Some granules and powders should be taken with food or milk. Other granules and powders work best on an empty stomach. There are a few granules and powders that should not be taken with certain foods, juices or milk. This should be shown on the medicine label. If you are not sure which food or drink your child should have with the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Detailed information about what to do is given in the leaflet for each medicine on the Medicines for Children website.

Granules

Granules are designed to be taken with a small amount of food.

  • Sprinkle or stir the granules into a small amount of soft food (e.g. yogurt) or a small drink.
  • Your child should then swallow the food or drink straight away, without chewing. Make sure that they take it all.
  • You can also mix the granules with a spoonful of cold water and give it to your child to drink straight away, without chewing. Do not mix the granules with warm food or liquid.
  • Your child must take the granules within 15 minutes of opening the sachet. If the sachet has been open for more than 15 minutes, throw the contents away and use a new sachet.
  • Do not keep granules or a granule/food mixture to give later.

Powders

  • Powders are designed to be dissolved in water. Powders come in either sachets or envelopes (with pre-prepared amounts), or in a tub with a scoop to measure out the right amount. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much powder and how much liquid to use.
  • If you have a sachet or envelope, open it and pour the contents into a small glass of water. Ideally your child should be able to swallow all the liquid in one or two gulps, although for some medicines the manufacturer recommends a larger amount of liquid. Check the label on the medicine and if you are not sure ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you have a tub, measure out the right amount using the scoop and pour it into a small glass of water.
  • Stir well until all the powder has dissolved and the mixture is clear or slightly hazy.
  • You can add fruit squash to the drink if your child does not like the taste. The medicine will still work properly.
  • Make sure your child drinks it all. If they cannot drink it all in one go, they can drink it over about 30 minutes. It may help to use a straw. If you need to use a small amount of liquid, you can use an oral syringe. You can get this from your pharmacist.
  • Do not keep the drink to give later.

Giving medicines

Medicines for children come in different forms. Tablets, caplets and liquid medicines are given orally (by mouth). There are medicines that are used in the eye, ear or nose, and inhalers for asthma medicines. Other medicines, such as suppositories or enemas, are given rectally (in the back passage, or bottom).

Watch videos and read leaflets to find out how to give your child different types of medicines.