When and How Should We Adjust Treatment?

When Your Child Can’t (or Won’t) Swallow the Pill

Buried in apple sauce. Frozen in a popsicle. Stuck inside a fruit snack. If you’ve ever wondered how to get a child to swallow a pill, these genius tricks will make the ADHD medication go down (without a fight!).

A girl with ADHD is covering her mouth because she doesn't know how to swallow a pill

How to Get a Child to Swallow a Pill

An ADDitude subscriber asked, “How can I get my child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) to swallow pills?” Here is some of the best advice other parents offered on how to get kids to take medicine as painlessly as possible.

Note: ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this website is provided for educational purposes only. These tips were provided by ADDitude forum members, not by experts. Please consult your doctor with questions or for professional advice.

Practice How to Swallow a Pill with Candy

“Practice with Tic Tacs.” —davegod

“We practiced swallowing the pills with mini M&Ms.” —maxsmom599

Mask ADHD Medications in These 7 Tasty Ways

“My son’s doctor had to prescribe a capsule of medication that can be opened and sprinkled on yogurt. Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are all available in capsule form. My son says Vyvanse tastes the best, and it comes in a powder form that can be stirred into any drink.” —supergokart

“My child found it easier to take his medication if it was served in applesauce.” —Elaine20

[Use This Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medications]

“My parents crushed my pills, mixed them with jelly, and put the jelly mixture on a spoon and shoveled it in my mouth. Now that I think back, it would have probably worked to freeze this concoction in frozen form as popsicles.” —Amanda Nelson

“A ‘must-have’ to get my kids to take their meds is to serve the medicine in a spoonful of yogurt with nonpareils on top. You’ll find these sprinkles in the cake decorating or baking section of your local grocery store. The small, dot-sized ones are easiest to work with. I’ve used this for giving everything from chewable amoxicillin to Ritalin LA in a capsule.” —cotrav5

“A teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter can easily disguise pills if they’re small.” —Sherry

“I spray whipped cream (out of a can) into my son’s mouth after he puts the capsule on his tongue. The whipped cream creates a barrier so the capsule doesn’t roll out and it gives him something substantial to swallow.” —bristoladd

[Read this Next: What to Do When ADHD Meds Ruin Your Child’s Appetite]

“My husband noticed that our daughter, who was struggling to take her meds, was able to swallow fruit-flavored Gushers whole. He had the brilliant idea of cutting open a Gusher and sticking the capsule inside.” —Becky

Try an Alternative to Swallowing a Pill

“Instead of taking pills, my stepson uses the Daytrana patch. It is a patch that sticks to his hip. This way, there are no pills to swallow. There are side effects, so check with your doctor.” —prisg

“My son chews his Ritalin. Always has.” —loneprincess76

Try These Methods to Learn How to Swallow a Pill

“Don’t put the pill on your child’s tongue or toward the back of their mouth. Place the pill or capsule under their tongue, off to one side, and then have them drink water with a straw. The natural flow of swallowing is like a wave. It washes the pill right down.” —hoyarn91

“The ‘normal’ way is to put the pill in your mouth, add liquid, and swallow. My way is to put the liquid in my mouth, tilt my head back (so it doesn’t spill out), and drop the pill in. Then I close my mouth and swallow. It works like a charm.” —Greg Ream

“For bad-tasting meds, buy empty gel caps. Put the tablet in the empty capsule to mask the taste.” —hoyarn91

“A friend told me about the Oralflo cup. I ordered it online, and it works like a charm.” —lucym

How to Get a Child to Swallow A Pill: Next Steps

How to Treat ADHD in Children: Next Questions

  1. What ADHD medications are used to treat children?
  2. Is ADHD medication right for my child?
  3. What are common side effects associated with ADHD medication?
  4. What natural treatments help kids with ADHD?
  5. What if the medication stops working?
  6. How can I find an ADHD specialist near me?

Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.