How to give medicines: capsules
This page describes how to give capsules to children. Specific information about individual medicines is available on the Medicines Information pages.
This leaflet has been specifically written about how to give capsules to children. Please read it carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
Our page on Helping your child to swallow tablets (and which also applies to capsules) may be useful.
We have produced a step by step video to help with the administration of tablets and capsules to children.
Capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water or juice. Your child should not chew the capsule.
Some capsules should be taken with food or milk. Other capsules work best on an empty stomach. There are a few capsules that should not be taken with certain foods, juices or milk. This should be shown on the medicine label.
Mixing with food
The contents of some capsules can be mixed with a small amount of food. If you are not sure if your child’s capsules can be mixed with food, speak with your child’s doctor or pharmacist.
- Open the capsule carefully and mix the contents with a teaspoon of soft food (e.g. yogurt, honey or jam) or a small amount (10 mL, which is about 2 teaspoons) of fruit juice or squash.
- Make sure your child swallows it straight away, without chewing. (The capsule contents may have a bitter taste, so you will need to use something strong-tasting to mask it, such as undiluted fruit squash.)
Dissolving in water
The contents of some capsules can be dissolved in water or juice. Your doctor will tell you how much liquid to use, and how much of it to give your child.
- Open the capsule carefand dissolve the contents in the right amount of water or fruit juice.
- Give the mixture to your child straight away, using an oral syringe or medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist.
Dispersing capsules to give a part dose
Occasionally, you will need to give your child part of a capsule. Your doctor, pharmacist or nurse will tell you to disperse the contents of the capsule in a small amount of water and give part of the dispersed medicine.
For example, to give 30 mg of a medicine that is available in a 50 mg capsule, disperse the tablet in 5 mL of water and give 3 mL of the mixture using an oral syringe. You can get an oral syringe from your pharmacist.
- You will need to draw up 5 mL of water into an oral syringe (for young babies you will need to use water that has been freshly boiled and then cooled) and squirt this into a glass. To do this, put the tip of the oral syringe in water and pull the plunger back so that the top of the ring is at 5 mL; this will draw water into the syringe. Aim the syringe into a clean glass and push the plunger in slowly so that the water goes into the glass.
- Pull apart the two ends of the capsule and empty the contents of the capsule in the water.
- Mix it vigorously – it may make a cloudy mixture.
- Draw up the right volume into an oral syringe. Your doctor, pharmacist or nurse will tell you how much of the mixture to give to your child.
- Pour any mixture left over down the sink. Do not keep it for another time.
The content of some capsules can be dispersed in a small amount of juice or squash. Check the medicine label to find out if your child’s capsule can only be taken with water.
‘Sprinkle capsules’ can be sprinkled in food. This information will be shown on the medicine label.
- Open the capsule and sprinkle the granules into a teaspoonful of soft food (e.g. yogurt, honey or jam).
- Make sure your child swallows it all straight away, without chewing.
- These capsules can also be swallowed whole with a glass of water, juice or milk.
Who to contact for more information
Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about your child’s medicine.
You can read further information about individual medicines by searching (A-Z) on the Medicines Information pages on this website.