How to give your child tablets or capsules

This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains how to give your child tablets or capsules. 


Tablets or capsules that need to be swallowed whole

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Remove the required number of tablets or capsules from the bottle and put in a plastic cup.
  3. Ask your child to place one on their tongue towards the back of his or her mouth
  4. Give your child a drink from a ‘grown up’ cup - one without a spout is best.
  5. The tablet or capsule should be swallowed along with the drink. It might help to look down while swallowing.
  6. Repeat with the rest of the dose if necessary.

Tablets or capsules that can be crushed or emptied

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Remove the required number of tablets or capsules from the packaging and put in a plastic cup.
  3. For tablets - Put the tablet in the tablet crusher and empty the crushed tablet back into the plastic cup.
  4. For capsules - Hold the capsule over the plastic cup and gently pull the two halves apart so that the capsule contents fall into the plastic cup.
  5. Mix the crushed tablet or capsule contents with a small amount of water as instructed on the label, making sure that they are well mixed.
  6. Draw up the mixture in an oral syringe and give it to your child according to the instructions on the bottle.
  7. Give your child a drink to wash down the medicine.

Instead of mixing with water, you can also mix the crushed tablet or capsule contents with a teaspoon of yoghurt.

Giving a proportion of a tablet that can be dispersed

  1. Measure a specific volume of water, for example 10ml or as instructed on the label
  2. Disperse the tablet(s) in the water
  3. Draw up the correct proportion using an oral syringe, following the instructions on the label
  4. Give the correct dose to your child and discard any remaining solution.

Important: Use a new tablet or capsule each time unless otherwise directed.

Looking after the tablets or capsules

  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before giving it to your child.
  • Store the tablets or capsules out of direct sunlight.
  • Read the instructions and only use the tablets or capsules as instructed.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.

If you have any questions about your child’s liquid medicine, please ask your family doctor (GP) or local community pharmacist.

Compiled by: 
The Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
August 2017


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.  

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.