Children often struggle to swallow capsules and tablets, and it can be a difficult skill to train a child. Here are a few tips that I learned throughout my years practicing pharmacy.

Start Small

Be sure that when you are first attempting to get a child to swallow a capsule or tablet that you start small.

Disguise It

Many parents find success disguising tablets and capsules in foods such as applesauce, peanut butter, or yogurt. If you have non-delayed-release capsules, you can crush them and freeze them in a popsicle.  Taste it yourself before giving to a child.

Use Creative Placement

There are two schools of thought on this matter: 1) you can have the child open their mouth and stick out the tongue as far as possible, place the tablet or capsule on the back of the tongue, and immediately give them a glass of water to drink. Tilt the head back and swallow.2) Place the capsule or tablet under the tongue, and immediately give them a glass of water to drink. Tilt the head back and swallow. Benefits of version 1 are that there is very little taste associated, but some children find this difficult to swallow.  Version 2 is not appropriate for strong tasting supplements.

Use a Device

For children who really struggle to swallow tablets and capsules, you can try a device such as the Oralflo. This is a cup designed with a special slot for the tablet or capsule in the lid.  As the child drinks their favorite juice, the tablet is picked up and flows into the mouth for easy swallowing.  This device is also very effective for elderly people who struggle to swallow.


Fair warning, this is not my favorite method. Some parent have success training their children to swallow tablets and capsules by practicing with round candies.  I don’t love this because I think that we have to be very cautious not to train children that medicine and candy are interchangeable.

Safety Tips

Speak with a physician before starting any new wellness routine, especially in a child.  Choose chewable options if there is any risk of choking.  Know the Heimlich maneuever for children.  Only use supplements according to the package label.

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