Many parents don’t realize it, but kids as young as 4 can learn to swallow pills. Here are some tricks for helping the medicine go down.

By Sunny Sea Gold
Yuri Shevtsov/Shutterstock

Even if you're little one isn't sick, there may be a benefit to teaching her how to swallow a pill. “When kids are younger, they often have less anxiety about it than older kids do,” says Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., a Parents advisor and a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

So when should you start training? Research has found that kids as young as 4 can learn to swallow pills. And even though many meds are available in liquid form, pills are easier to travel with and they allow you to be sure of exactly how much your child has consumed.

Here’s how to help your little one master this life skill. 

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Start With Every Kid's Favorite Thing: Candy

Begin by asking him to swallow a tiny kind, like Nerds, then move up to a Tic Tac. You may need to practice daily for as long as a few weeks. Have him sit upright and take a big gulp of water to help wash it down.

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Show Her a Few Different Positions

You want your child to feel in control, so have her tilt her chin up or rotate her head from side to side until she finds a comfortable position while swallowing.

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Keep the Experience Positive

If your child gags or gets frustrated, take a break and try again later. Remind him in a low-key way that the bites of food he swallows are way bigger than the pill. And if he still can’t get the hang of it, there’s no shame in opting for liquid or dissolvable meds until he’s ready to give it another go.

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