A Simple Way to Swallow Pills: Information for Parents and Caregivers
Swallowing pills can hard for many children, youth and even adults. This can cause a lot of stress for everyone. But there is help! Dr. Kaplan and colleagues at the University of Calgary have developed a simple way to help people to swallow pills.
Most people try to swallow with their head in the ‘centre’ position. But it turns out that many people swallow better if they try a different head position.
It may be easier for some people to swallow if they:
- Turn their heads to one side;
- Turn their heads down slightly;
- Turn their heads up slightly.
If your child is having problems with swallowing pills, try different head positions to see which one works best.
Be prepared. It will help if you learn and practice how to swallow pills first. This makes it easier to help your child or teen.
Practice with candy. Small hard candies like Tic Tacs or M&Ms work the best. Have your child or teen practice for 14 days (a few minutes each evening).
Be patient. Learning to swallow pills is like learning any skill; it takes time and practice. It’s important to practice with candy for at least 14 days. Using this method too quickly with medications and supplements causes problems. Children can give up on this method quickly if they don’t have success swallowing their medications.
BJ Kaplan, RA Steiger, J Pope, A Marsh, M Sharp, SG Crawford. Successful treatment of pill-swallowing difficulties with head posture practice. Paediatr Child Health 2010;15(5):e1-e5.
Written by Dr. Bonnie Kaplan (PhD, University of Calgary) and members of the CHEO Mental Health Information Committee of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
Under a Creative Commons License. You are free to share, copy and distribute this work as in its entirety, with no alterations. This work may not be used for commercial purposes. View full license at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ca/
Information in this fact sheet may or may not apply to your child. Your health care provider is the best source of information about your child’s health.
Date of Last Revision: Jun 20, 2017