How to teach your child to swallow vitamins

We all want our children to take their vitamin and mineral supplements, right? Teaching him/her to swallow them is no easy task.  Especially if they have special needs and are not open to learning new things. Today, both my sons put me to shame on how easily they swallow their supplements. I am a sissy about it. One capsule at a time with LOTS of liquid to wash it down. It’s probably psychological, but my throat closes up when I need to swallow a vitamin; even if it’s smaller than a bite of food.

When we started our sons on vitamin and mineral supplements, I did the labor intensive task of breaking open each capsule and mixing it into juice or food. It worked for about six months or so. I eventually got tired of the time waster, begging kids to “finish your juice” or “eat ALL of the applesauce” for fear of not getting the entire dose into them. I know some goes to waste with this method, but some was better than nothing.

Supplements can get expensive and they were of vital importance for my sons to take to help them with their deficiencies.  So I started to inquire as to how other moms were “getting the medicine to go down.”  Here are some ideas that can work for toddlers or young children alike.

  1. Put a bit of honey on the pill and pop it in followed with liquid. Takes away the taste of any supplement if there is one.
  2. Open them up and mix into juice inside a sippie cup with a lid, to hide any color changes to it and the smell. I used to get my four-year-old to drink cod liver oil mixed with his powder vitamin in a juice mixture (pear juice) inside a sports sippie cup every morning. I did have to chase him around and ask him to finish his juice….but the nasty smell was contained inside the cup and he couldn’t smell it. Washing the cup was another story. Ugh!
  3. Make vitamin smoothies with juice, ice, fruit and blend till dissolved.
  4. Open up capsule into applesauce, pear sauce or a nut butter. We used sunflower seed butter since both boys were allergic to peanuts. Trader Joes sells a yummy sunflower seed butter.
  5. At dinner time I’d mix supplements into ketchup, (dairy free) ranch dressing for dipping veggies.
  6. Some parents will mix it into GF/CF chocolate syrup, and make it a treat.
  7. Then there is always the mixing it into a tiny amount of liquid and using a medicine syringe, hold child down and squirt it into the side of their mouth. I’ve heard parents have some success with young toddlers using this method.
  8. An adult can model how it’s done. This works best with dad showing his son, who wants to do everything daddy does. Put the vitamins on the table with a cup of juice and show them how it’s done. Good luck with that one. But it’s worth a try!

OK, ready for the easiest method I found to teach my kids to swallow vitamins? It’s the Oralflo cup. You can buy it online at It’s unique design has a lid with a spout that has a screen on it to keep the vitamin separate from the liquid. You place a small amount of liquid in the cup and the vitamin in the spout. I found that if my boys quickly (not too quick) tossed their head back with the cup in their mouth, the liquid pushes the vitamin back into the mouth and they swallow it easily.  If they went too slow, the liquid reaches the vitamin before it shoots it into their mouth and it sticks inside the cup spout.  We started practicing with Nordic Naturals DHA Jr. capsules. They are small round gels that go down easily.

Once my sons felt comfortable with the smaller capsules, they had no problem taking larger ones. Eventually they told me they didn’t need the cup any more and tried it by just placing the vitamin in their mouth and swallowing with liquid. You’d be shocked how many they can take at one time now!

If you have success stories that aren’t listed here on how you taught your child to swallow vitamins, please post a comment below.

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