How To Teach Pill Swallowing

Model for your child the steps in swallowing a pill:

  1. Place a pill on the back of your tongue.
  2. Keep your tongue flat.
  3. Take liquid in your mouth.
  4. Tilt your head backward slightly.
  5. Swallow.

Use candy pills for practice. Gradually increase the size of the pill in the following order:

  1. Oblong, multicolored sprinkle used for cake decoration.
  2. Spherical, silver cake decoration
  3. Round, multicolored candy that is 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter.
  4. Red licorice whip cut to a length of about 1/4 inch.
  5. Capsule-shaped candy, multicolored, sold as Tic Tacs or Dynamints.
  6. Tylenol junior strength tablets.
  7. Normal-sized capsule: the child's actual pill of medicine.

Have your child practice swallowing each size of sprinkle or candy as many times as it takes for him or her to get used to it.

These procedures usually take about 45 minutes to 1 hour but may take you a little longer.

Written by Edward Christophersen, Ph.D.


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