37 answers

Teaching Kids to Swallow Pills

Do any of you have new ideas for teaching kids how to take pills? My 9 yr old and 12 yr old both still cannot. Tried using Tic-Tac's - letting them dissolve partially and then swallow when they get smaller. They can't do it with Tic-Tac's. Tried same with mini-M&M's - swallowing when still intact but really small. They both cannot do it - feel like they will choke on it. Any ideas? They can't keep using Tylenol meltaways as a teen/high schooler. Thank you!!

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My mom taught my sister to swallow pills by first chewing up a saltine cracker and then placing the pill in her mouth (in the mushed up cracker). This has always worked for her. I, on the other hand, put the water in my mouth first and then the pill. The pill does not stick to my tongue (it just floats in the water), so i dont even know its there! (i still do this & im 36!) good luck

I can't stand swallowing pills. I just avoid it most of the time. You can find liquids and chewables for a lot of things. (I even had chewable pre-natual vitamins). I say give them the liquid till they are at least in high school and then it might be easier to help them or show them.

K. J,
My mom used to not be able to swallow pills & a Dr. told her to put the pill in her mouth & take a drink of water through a straw so that the mouth is shut & the pill is harder to spit out!! It worked for her!! I have an 11 yr. old that can swallow more then one pill at a time & a 9 yr. old that can't get the hang of swallowing pills!! I hope that it works for you!!
L. W.
A SAHM of 4!! 3 girls ages 11, 9 1/2 & almost 4 & one son who is almost 6!!

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I have an 11yr old with whom I have not tried the swallowing of pills yet, but will have to soon. I belive when I was younger we used to put the pill as far back as possible, and then just drink the glass of water. Not sure if that will work, but I will probably try that with my daughter.

1 mom found this helpful

K. J,
My mom used to not be able to swallow pills & a Dr. told her to put the pill in her mouth & take a drink of water through a straw so that the mouth is shut & the pill is harder to spit out!! It worked for her!! I have an 11 yr. old that can swallow more then one pill at a time & a 9 yr. old that can't get the hang of swallowing pills!! I hope that it works for you!!
L. W.
A SAHM of 4!! 3 girls ages 11, 9 1/2 & almost 4 & one son who is almost 6!!

I agree, Applesause or yogurt is thick and doesn't need to be chewed, so it is easy to swollow a pill with a mouth full. (p.s...A nurse sugested this to me when I was in the Hospital with my 2nd child, I always had problems before that. Now I can handle it.) Best wishes

I was told when I was younger that it works to put the pill on the back of your tongue and then quickly guzzle a glass of water. Sometimes with a large amount of water you cannot feel the pill going down. I don't take pills very often, but it works for me.

My daughter had to take medication every day when she was in first grade. We put her pill in a small spoonful of applesauce, yogurt or ice cream. Just double check with the doctor or pharmacy it is ok, he said as long as she was taking it right away it was fine.

I had trouble learning to swallow pills as a child, and my mom found me a small plastic cup that had a little ridge built into the rim of it where you are supposed to set the pill. I guess it helps flip it back into your mouth as the water rushes in from the cup.

I also still tend to put the pill under my tongue, and then drink my water, then flip the pill towards the back of my throat with the tip of my tongue. Good Luck.
J.

I wish I had some good solutions for you. But I have the same problem as your kids. I cannot swallow a pill. I even chewed up some food and swallowed with the pill in my mouth. The food went down the pill did not.

All I can really do is wish you luck. It's no fun not being able to swallow pills.

Okay maybe I'm the meanie, but as soon as they hit the dose of medicines that equal and adult pill I won't buy the liquid or chewable anymore. My five year old can swallow a pill...I just tell her to drink it down or she will taste it. My other child eats them with yogurt. They can do it just don't give them an out.

I still take my pills with a thick juice if it's available - it's just easier. I highly recommend a thick orange juice or trying applesauce to help the pill go down. I like the banana idea someone suggested - never though of that!

Also, you might consider asking your pharmacist or looking online to find a placebo pill to practice with, so that the pill is more like what they'd really be taking.

This web site has a great number of ideas to help kids learn how to take medicine:

http://www.squirreltales.com/parents/medicine.html

Good luck!

Next time they have a headache give them large glass of water and a bottle of Tylenol. They will figure it out.

One additional idea - Sometimes the bitterness of a pill's coating challenges the kid; Our babysitter came up with wrapping bitter-tasting pills in a bit of Fruit Roll-up. That way, if it doesn't go down right away, we don't have a screaming/gagging fest! The "coating" also makes the surface smoother to swallow. This technique works the best for my 8-year-old daughter (even on large capsules!)

When I was cornered with this problem.( the kids needed to take something that was pill form only ) I found that putting the pill into some food they liked that did not require chewing.. ie: Applesauce, jelly, chocolate syrup, spaghetti o's, etc.. worked long enough to teach them how to swallow it.
But again..I was cornered..and had to find someway to get meds into them..Most meds come in liquid or chewable forms, even for adults. Best to ask advice from a Doc..or better yet..the people who have to administer meds most often.. nurses.
Good luck.!!

My 12 year daughter has the same problem. I still give her liquid or meltaway tabs. She also has a sensitive gag reflect so anything that hits the back of her throat the wrong way or anything that has a harse smell makes her gag. I'm sure it will pass, but I'm interested in hearing what other people say as well about getting their kids to swallow a tablet.

I have a strong gag reflex, and could not swallow pills as a child until a doctor taught me the following technique: have someone - at the time, my mother - "throw" (not too hard) a pill into your throat while your mouth is open wide. If the pill ends up in the center of the tongue and far enough back, you will swallow involuntarily and not gag it up. This worked for me for many years, until I learned to control my gag reflex enough as an adult to take pills "normally" - though I still place the pill way down into my throat cavity, to lessen the chance it will come up before I take a swallow of water. Something else that works, of course, is to use chewables whenever possible. I had to have chewable prenatal vitamins, because they might as well have been horse pills, they were so huge! Also, I take chewable OsCal every day to increase my vitamin D and calcium intake... so more and more, there are chewables out there for all kinds of pills, for kids and adults.

Hi K.,

I have always had difficulty swallowing pills. I have to "trick" myself into taking them. I always have to take pills with food. I chew up my food and just before I swallow I put the pill in my mouth and then take a drink.

Blessings,
L.

I have found that it is easier to swallow a pill if you take it with a carbonated beverage. Something about the little bubbles help it go down easier. Good luck!

You could try putting the pill in some applesauce or yogurt and have them just swallow. I am a nurse and we do that at work sometimes for adults who have trouble swallowing pills. The applesauce works good because it is kind of thick so it helps it to go down. Good luck!!

I don't know if this will help but I just read an article on this very subject and it said if possible to try capsules because they will float with the water in their mouth and go right down where as pills are heavy and will lay on the tongue apparently there is more of a gag reflex. My Daughter is only 4 so I'm not there yet.
Good luck
V.

pudding or jello it sound kinda funny but if u put in a spoon full of one or the other it goes down better. since they are soft most kids just swallow it and the pill goes right down. hope this help good luck

I learned this technique to teach my youngest how to swallow a pill. I also used this in an emergency situation when someone's daughter (at the Mom's request) had a bad allergic reaction and all that was close by was regular Benadryl tablets. Two tries and she had the pill down having never done so before.

Some kids have trouble with the mechanics of swallowing a pill. Have them practice making the letter "T" sound a few times. The tongue goes up just above the top teeth when doing so. This is the same position the tongue has to be in to swallow. After they practice the sound a couple of times, have them place the pill on the back of the tongue and swallow (with a drink) while placing their tongue in that same position. It goes right down. It evens works without a drink but definitely easier with one.

When my daughter was 12, the peditrician suggested we put the pill in a banana. She started taking pills like that and now at almost 19 just swallows them. As a nurse, we sometimes put whole pills in applesauce.

Good Luck,
R.
Director
www.iambabycrazy.com/408

Have them chew something until they are ready to swallow (we use a saltine cracker) and then put the pill on the back of the tongue with the chewed food. Take a drink of water to wash the food down the throat. Your brain only perceives the chewed food and you don't have the gag reflex you might have if only a tiny pill.

Hope this helps.

(Also, for what it's worth- they do make liquid or chewable meds in just about everything now for adults. My husband has a hard time with pills and he has never had probs getting prescriptions for him and takes adult gummy vitamins as well.)

Some people's throats just don't allow for easy swallowing of pills. My husband has difficulty and he's over six feet tall. What he does is try swallowing with milk and definitely makes sure he's got a good amount of whatever fluid he uses. Also, make sure that you can take the medicine with food. Never break apart a capsule and if you need to cut a pill check with the pharmacist before hand.

I also wanted to warn about taking a pill without a liquid. A junior (girl) at my daughter's school swallowed a Tylenol (I think) without water and it somehow burned her esophagus and she had some major problems as a result. I definitely will never recommend trying to take a pill without liquid (regardless of what kind) again.

Good luck and try not to stress over it, sometimes it just takes time and if you stress out, it makes it more difficult.

U sure know what you are talking about. Each kid is different. For my daughter, I had her drink something so her mouth was wet. I explained that the back center of the tougn has little feeling and no taste buds.
P placed it on that part of the tongue, handed her the water and told her to pretend nothing was ther, just drink. The secret I believe, was that I placed it on the right spot.

My son just had an awful time with the concept of swallowing a pill, so one day at lunch while he was eating a hamburger, I told him to slip the pill in the middle of the mess in his mouth, and chew lightly and swallow. That worked for him. I explained that the throat will open only as big as it needs to. With a large mouth of food, it opens wide. With a pill, it doesn't, thus causing the choking.

That's what I did.

I was taught to think that I am swallowing a piece of meat. It worked for me and that is how I taught my daughters.

It might help to put the pills into icecream, pudding, applesauce...just a suggestion.

We had to teach my 9 year old how to swallow his allergy pills every night. I found some pill taking cups that you put the pill into the cup, add liquid and have the child drink normally. We ordered 2 different types, they both worked pretty good. Then we learned that if he were to take a swallow of liquid, tilt his head back (look at the ceiling) open his mouth and drop the pill in, then swallow. The pill went down without a problem. He now can just put the pill in his mouth and take a drink to get them down. Trail and error, don't give up, be calm when they have to swallow pills and they will get it. Good Luck.

I recall my doctor telling me when I was young that the food I swallow is much larger than the pill I was taking, and this helped me with the fear that I would choke on it.

I am sure at ages 9 and 12 they can swallow their food so try putting the pill in their mouth with food. Let me know if that works. My children didn't have that problem but my dog did and it worked for him so give it a try.

we went through this with our son too! for the longest time he would place the pill in with food and swallow it that way. we looked up some Pill-swallowing tips on the internet. the one that worked the best for him is to put the pill in his mouth with a swig of water and swish it around, then swallow. he is 14 and does it that way and it seems to work for him!

I can't stand swallowing pills. I just avoid it most of the time. You can find liquids and chewables for a lot of things. (I even had chewable pre-natual vitamins). I say give them the liquid till they are at least in high school and then it might be easier to help them or show them.

We started out by putting my daughter's pill in a little bit of ice cream. She just swallowed the ice cream and that was that. Within three days, she was taking the pill without the ice cream.

The instinct is to swallow pills by tilting our heads back. Try this... put the pill in the mouth and take a drink of water... rather than throwing the head backwards, tilt the chin down towards the chest and swallow. While it feels counter-intuative, it's like a miracle and even big pills slide down easily! Good Luck - it has made a tremendous difference in our lives.

I have an 11 yr old who can't swallow a pill either. My sister-in-law had her children practice with little pieces of bread rolled up. I am going to try this with my daughter.

Try a large glass of water or juice with a straw. Have her put the pill (or candy) in the back of her mouth and drink the entire class of water through the straw. This should force her to swallow. It worked for my kids after one or two tries. My kids did not learn this until they were about 11, so your younger one may not be ready yet. Good luck.

My mom taught my sister to swallow pills by first chewing up a saltine cracker and then placing the pill in her mouth (in the mushed up cracker). This has always worked for her. I, on the other hand, put the water in my mouth first and then the pill. The pill does not stick to my tongue (it just floats in the water), so i dont even know its there! (i still do this & im 36!) good luck

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