Swallowing Pills

Why are swallowing pills better than liquid medicines?

Swallowing pills is an important life skill for children to learn because most medicines are in pill form.

Swallowing pills are better:

  • For children and young people: some liquid medicines don't taste great, and pills are easier to take. Pills contain less sugar and children who swallow pills tend to have less problems taking their medicines
  • For carers: pills have a longer shelf-life, do not need to be kept in a fridge, are easier to carry around and more readily available in local pharmacies
  • For pharmacists: pills are more commonly stocked in local pharmacies compared to suspensions and cheaper
Top tips to teach your child how to swallow pills

Find a comfortable place with no distractions - You can try this together

Let the child choose their own drink - This can be milk, water, or sugar free juice

Start with the smallest practice pill or sweet - Give some control to the child by letting them choose one for you too

Place the practice pill or sweet in the middle of their tongue - Don't throw head back

Seal lips around the top of the bottle and take three gulps of liquid without putting the bottle down

Try another pill or sweet, following the same steps - (never say bigger one!)

Watch our film with Sister Ailsa Pickering


We have a series of podcasts about learning to swallow pills.  Listen to Daniel’s podcast to hear his story and find out how swallowing pills made a difference to him.

RCPCH Podcasts: Pill swallowing in children 4 : Daniel's story (libsyn.com)

Listen to Sister Ailsa Pickering talk about teaching children to swallow pills

RCPCH Podcasts: Pill swallowing in children 1: The secret of pill swallowing (libsyn.com)

Page last updated on: 14th September 2023