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Teaching Your Child to Swallow a Pill
Patricia Quinn, MD posted:
Many children (and adults) have difficulty swallowing pills. This often becomes critical as many long-acting medications can not be chewed or crushed because this will release all of the medication at once, both increasing the chance of side effects and decreasing the extended release of the medication. Over the years, I have taught many children to swallow a pill. Here is the method I have found works best.

Try teaching your child to swallow a pill using something much smaller. I usually have kids practice without a pill at first. Start by having him take a large amount of water and hold it in his cheeks puffing them out. Most kids already know how to do this! Next, have him take a big gulp and swallow all of the water in one swallow. Be sure he keeps his chin tucked and head forward (not throwing his head back is important as when he adds a the pill it may touch the back of the throat). Do this several times. Next, I have him put a small piece of a pill (something he usually takes such as an anthistamine, tylenol, etc.), cracker, or piece of candy on his tongue, Now add lots of water as before (hold in cheeks, head forward) and gulp and swallow. Usually, to his amazement, the pill or cracker will go down with the water! Practice this several times to build up confidence before trying with a larger pill or the real medication.

I invite you to please respond and share your tips or success with this method.

Pat Quinn, MD
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10 of 10 found this helpful
NaNaLynnsMom responded:
My son has trouble swallowing pills, so I tried a very small amount of peanut butter and stuck the pill in it and followed with his drink of worked great for him and he loves taking his meds now

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