Managing 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. These genius tricks for getting your child to swallow a pill will make the medicine go down (without a fight!).

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

An ADDitude subscriber asked, “How can I get my child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) to swallow pills?” And here is some of the best advice other parents offered on how to teach a child to swallow a pill, 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

[Free Download: A Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medications]

Mask 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

“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

[What to Do When ADHD Meds Ruin Your Child’s Appetite]

“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

“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

[The Full Range of Treatment Options for Children with ADHD]

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