Pill Swallowing Techniques

Pill Swallowing Techniques salsa narrow

Tips for Taking Medicine

It can be challenging to get kids to take their medicine. Below is a Pill Swallowing Protocol for learning how to swallow pills. But in the meantime, here are some strategies to try.

Coat the tongue with a portion of oily food, like peanut butter or chocolate. Then have the child swallow the supplement mixed up into food, then take another bite of the chocolate or peanut butter to mask the taste.  Or you can melt some chocolate in the microwave and mix the medicine in there, pour it into a mold or onto parchment paper and let it firm up.

  • Juice
  • Nut Butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  • Jelly
  • Ice Cream
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Pudding
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Whip Cream

Pill Swallowing Protocol

Bonnie Kaplan at the University of Calgary in the Behavioural Research Unit / Dept of Paediatrics has worked with hundreds of children and adults to develop a way to learn how to swallow pills. This method, based on head posture, is helping people who have difficulty swallowing their medication. Watch the U Calgary video for specific directions.

Make sure to download the Pill Swallowing Technique Handout and Head Position Preference Sheet to track head positions for two weeks!

Pill Swallowing Techniques instructions ASPIREPill Swallowing Techniques Pill Swallowing Preference Sheet ASPIRE

  • Use a small, hard candy to start.
  • Remember, your esophagus is much wider than any pill, and it is very flexible and soft, just like your cheek. Don’t be afraid that it will get stuck.
  • Have good posture; stand up if that helps.
  • Place the candy on the back of your tongue.
  • Take a little sip of water. A little is usually better than a lot when swallowing.
  • Then it is time to swallow the candy! Try different head positions, as shown in the video.
    • Straight forward just like you do when drinking
    • Turning your head to the side can open up your throat – try turning to both the left and right
    • Lifting your head up can make it easy for the pill to fall down quickly, and then add a little shake to your head like a duck!
    • Bending your neck down can make some people feel more comfortable
  • Practice for two weeks with the candy. Test out different head positions each time and see what works best for you. Record which position feels best. You may change your mind on what feels best over the course of the two weeks.
  • Then you can swallow pills!

2 comments to Pill Swallowing Techniques

  1. Kristin
    March 11, 2024

    Thank you for this, Gabriella!! Such a valuable resource.

    • Gabriella True
      March 13, 2024

      So glad you found it helpful!


Leave a comment