It’s a tough pill to swallow

In the wake of liquid Tylenol and Motrin recalls, some parents are facing empty shelves of liquid medications in the stores. Check to see if your child weighs enough to take the dose in pill form. If so, it’s time to learn to swallow pills! Here are some of our favorite helpful ideas:

-Don’t wait until your child is ill. She may not feel up to learning a new skill.


-Practice swallowing peas, tic-tacs or watermelon seeds. You can start with a cake sprinkle and move up to something larger.

-Demonstrate for your child the process of swallowing.

-Thick liquid will carry down a pill better than thin liquid. Try orange juice or milk instead of water.

-Try having your child tilt her head forward as she drinks so that she is “upside down.”

-Use mind over matter, for a nervous kid, tell him to first take three breaths, sit-down, gulp and quickly swallow.

-Take a pill while simultaneously eating apple sauce, yogurt, or pudding.

-Put a pill in his mouth and have him suck liquid quickly up through a straw. This action will push back the pill before it dissolves in the liquid.

-Remind your child: if you can swallow food, you can swallow a pill.

What if nothing works? Some pills can be chewed, and the contents of some capsules can be sprinkled on food; check with the pharmacist first. Then teach your child the song “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly…”

Naline Lai, MD and Julie Kardos, MD

©2010 Two Peds in a Pod?

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1 Comment

  • Reply Maid November 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I didn’t learn how to swallow a pill until I was practically in college. It was a huge embarrassment for me. I wonder if my parents had started with me earlier if it would have made a difference? Is there a certain age you would recommend trying to teach them? 6 or 7 maybe?

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