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Daughter can’t swallow pills-need suggestions for her to take her medicine quickly/easily

CourtDS profile image
15 Replies

My daughter is 6 and she takes medication for her adhd. Luckily we’ve been successful with her medicine, HOWEVER, getting her to actually take the medicine is another story. She’s not able to swallow pills yet so I mix it on a spoon with yogurt. The yogurt is what she thinks is the best to eat with the medicine. It takes me several minutes just to get her to hold the spoon. Then anywhere from 5-10+ minutes to get her to lick the medicine off the spoon. She’ll move the spoon around in the air trying to get it to fall off or, even worse, put the spoon in her mouth and start to close her mouth then open right away and pull the spoon out all while I’m sitting next to her begging her to take it. When she finally does lick it off the spoon she spends at least another 5-10 minutes with the medicine just in her mouth and not swallowing it. I feel like it is the most torturous situation. I know the medicine is gross and I’ve offered everything I can think of to help her take it quickly. This is how we start our mornings every day and by the time she finally swallows the medicine I’m either in tears or crazy frustrated. Not to mention, like today when she yanked the spoon from me and the medicine went flying off the spoon and all over a cabinet door. Or, when it’s in her mouth and something happens and she practically chokes on it and a lot of it comes out. Then I can’t figure out how much she’s consumed. I’m desperate for any suggestions to mix it in and how to get her to take it quickly. After the difficulty from this morning with her I had to take away her favorite toys and send her to her room.

15 Replies
Onthemove1971 profile image


Congrats on getting the correct balance of medication. I know people have talked about applesauce working for them and now they comes in many choices, strawberry, applesauce with peach you could try some of theses.

But I have a question about how she was trying to swallow the pills? Did you give her flavored water? It is kinda fun to let her put drops of flavor into water and see if she is willing to flavor the water that way, then take a mouth full of water then drop the pill in her mouth then swallow the whole thing? This really worked for my son. That way she is really getting ALL of the medication.

I have been told when you mix the medication with something there is stuff that is left behind. I know your long term goal is to get her to swallow the pill. So just wanted to suggest what worked for us. She could also pick whatever flavor (yummy fruits like watermelon, lemon-lime, etc.) she liked to make the water taste good.

Good luck in getting it to not be so stressful..

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to Onthemove1971

Thank you for your suggestions. The doctor actually recommended apple sauce but she refuses to try it. 😞 How old was your son when he started swallowing pills? It would make things so so so much easier if I could get her to swallow the pill. My worry is what happens if she doesn’t swallow it, spits it out and we’ve lost a pill? I’m worried about wasting a pill in an effort to teach her how to swallow. I was thinking of practicing with something else but I’m not sure what to use for practice.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to CourtDS

We started with the sprinkle medication and I think he was 8 years old when he started swallowing pills. I would not worry about wasting pills they can always give you more. You could always practice on Tic Tacs cut in half.

I know you said she doesn't like applesauce, is it texture? If it is texture then Maybe pudding? I would not care if my child eat chocolate pudding for breakfast if they were taking medication!! I think talking to her and finding out what it is.

Hope these suggestions help.

If she is not ready to swallow now no worries, but if you have not tried you could try with sometime smaller first and a flavored water to make it a good experience.

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to Onthemove1971

Thank you for your suggestions. I really like the flavor water idea. I think I’ll pick up that along with some tic tacs today and we can practice. I have a hard time swallowing pills so I’m hopeful she isn’t the same but I have to imagine once she figures out that she doesn’t have to taste what’s inside the pill it’ll be a good incentive.

I’ve offered pudding—I thought that was the best idea. Both her dad and her brother love it so I was hopeful she’d be willing to try it but nope. She’s just being stubborn. She used to not be so picky with food but the last year she’s gotten very picky. I’ve even offered to give her whipped cream right after but that only lasted a few days.

Thank you so much for your recommendations.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to CourtDS

Well when they get picky, we become parents with rules. You must take your medication. FYI. one downside to taking pills is you have to watch every pill go in. I can't tell you how many times we have found pills on the ground hidden where we thought he took them and he did not... such a process!

It is a must in our household first thing when he wakes up.

Best of luck!

Tmom46 profile image

My son is 13 and still has trouble swallowing a pill. Mostly bc we found what worked and haven’t pushed I‎t. My son chews his pill with a handful of cereal or eats i‎t with his waffle at breakfast. When he was really little and gave us a hard time we let him put it in the cream of an Oreo cookie. Taking the meds was more important than the sugar he was getting first thing. Sometimes you have to do what works rather than have a daily battle.

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to Tmom46

Is your son’s medicine a tablet or capsule? My daughter’s comes in capsules. I’ve offered everything I could think of and this morning I offered to put the capsules inside of a smashed banana. I don’t like to mix it in something bigger than a spoonf because she doesn’t eat a lot at one sitting and I don’t want to find some of the medicine left over. We practiced swallowing this morning with tictacs. That was not a success but then after those attempts she took her medicine fairly quickly the regular way (in a spoon with yogurt) and then I gave her a spray of whipped cream afterwards as a reward. I agree that taking the medicine with something sugary is worth it since it’s important to get the medicine down.

I forgot that she loves the insides of Oreo cookies. I’ll definitrly be buying some today to give that a try!

Tmom46 profile image
Tmom46 in reply to CourtDS

My son takes short acting Ritalin so it’s a tablet. He’s gotten really good about chewing I‎t bc he doesn’t think he can swallow the pill. It’s a sensitivity thing. He thinks he going to choke or gag.

The Oreo thing worked bc he loves them and the cream alone was a smaller about to eat. My son has a very small appetite too. We upgraded to peanut butter then cereal and normal food. I’m still working I️. The swallowing thing so hopefully one day he’ll get there. Best of luck!

DoodleyDukes profile image

Have her practice swallowing Tic Tacs at the back of her tongue. That's how my son learned.

Millerlife profile image

I am so sorry ypur going through that. My kiddo (8) gags or throws up when taking pills so I relate. We found (after much trial and error) that giving him a couple of gummie vitamins (or a couple of fruit gummies in the afternoon), which he chews up and when he is ready to swallow them tosses the pill in and it all goes down together.

He also used to goof off about taking his pill but it finally came out he was uncomfortable being watched so I just keep watch out of the corner of my eye. Now he's pleased that he can do it & I am so so greatful. I hope you find an answer that works for your daughter. Take care.

EJsMom profile image

My step son gets his choice of drink to swallow the pill. Usually he picks something awful for him like Rockstar!

But he only gets about 4 ounces, not the whole can.

I have trouble taking pills. I have to put the pill as far back on my tongue as my fingers will reach, almost gagging, but it works.

Good luck, that’s a tough situation.

Heartbeepmom profile image

My daughter takes capsules and she can’t do it with a drink (she’s six). It’s because the capsule floats. When I myself take capsules I have to tilt my head down so the capsule floats to the back of my mouth.

If you are sprinkling the meds in something, keep the capsules to practice with after the tic tacs. Make sure she knows that she isn’t getting any extra medicine! That way she understands that it is just practice, and there’s no pressure to “get it right”.

I know you want to keep the medicine all in one place so she can eat it in one go. Others have suggested pudding, what about adding colored sprinkles to the spoonful of whatever? That might make it more fun, and hide any texture/crunch from the medicine?

CourtDS profile image
CourtDS in reply to Heartbeepmom

I have to thank you SO VERY, VERY MUCH for your sprinkles idea. Since my post taking the medicine has only gotten worse with yesterday being one of the most difficult mornings yet. Last night we discussed several options and we came up with adding her medicine to a bit of white cookie frosting. At this point I don’t care what it’s added to if she won’t fight me to take it. She helped me get it ready this morning, I’d say we used 1/2 teaspoon of frosting then she added a few sprinkles on top. She took it, no fight, and couldn’t taste any medicine. She said she thought she chewed one of the medicine beads and I told her “or it was a sprinkle, we’ll never know. 🤷🏻‍♀️“ She gave me the thumbs up and said “every morning!” She immediately went to tell her Daddy that she couldn’t taste it at all, she was so excited and I’m ready to shout joy from the rooftops!!!

Heartbeepmom profile image
Heartbeepmom in reply to CourtDS

That’s awesome!! So glad I could be of help!

Aloysia profile image

Those are all good suggestions! Someone previously on this forum suggested this video for learning how to swallow pills:


I asked my daughter what reward she would want for watching the video and doing the exercise the first day, then what reward she wanted for practicing the first week, and what reward for being able to actually swallow her pill. We came to an agreement.

She started with nerds. Then moved to tic tacs and mini-M&Ms. Then tried regular M&Ms. I ordered empty capsules in the smallest size (size 5) from Amazon. She filled them with nerds or sugar so they would have a little weight. She can finally swallow that size. However, her medication comes in size 3 capsules. I've ordered empty capsules in size 4 and 3. But she hasn't been successful with those yet. So right now I am opening her medication capsule and putting it into two size 5 capsules (which she can swallow). We're not done yet, but this is significantly better than opening the capsules into pudding, etc and trying to get her to swallow it. Also, learning how to swallow pills will really help when I need to give her pain medication or antibiotics since she doesn't like the taste of the liquid or chewables.

A big thank you to everyone on this forum who gave so many suggestions and helped us to get this far!!!

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