Pills are not fun to swallow, even for adults, so how are we supposed to make our kids do it? Pediatric dietician Jennifer Anderson, who goes by @kids.eat.in.color on Instagram, shared a creative way she got her 7-year-old son to swallow pills (even big ones!) and honestly, the tip seems like a total game-changer.

Anderson demonstrated the tactic in an Instagram reel by showing her son doing every step she described. First, he watched an educational video, then they went to work. She used small candies (that right there is an incentive for most children!), and practiced these steps below.

Steps to get kids to swallow pills:

  1. Put candy on tongue
  2. Small sip of water
  3. “Duck shake” to get pill to back of throat
  4. Move head to one of five positions
  5. Swallow

The five positions she’s referring to is swallowing while tilting your head to the right, left, up, down, and straight. She also made a tracking sheet with faces displaying differing levels of comfort for each position and had her son rate how he felt after each position. 

He practiced all five head positions for 14 nights straight. “It took a few days of no swallows,” she admitted in the reel, “but then he got the hang of it.”

“When he was done, he wanted to see how big of a pill he could swallow. Sure enough, he could swallow the big one!”

The method Anderson demonstrated is based on the program “How to Swallow Pills” by Dr. Bonnie Kaplan. Speech pathologist Melanie Potock shared some extra information in the comments, writing: “The initial studies included children as young as 2, but for safety reasons, only meltable candies (like mini M&M’s) should be offered to children under age 4. This is primarily because the kids tend to tilt their head way back (as shown in your video) with the duck shake and that can increase the risk of choking on a hard candy. Many 2-year-olds still thrust their tongue when swallowing, so consulting with a speech language pathologist who specializes in orofacial myology is always a consideration as well.”

Choking is a serious concern, so before you try this at home with your kiddo make sure you’re using an age-appropriate pill substitute. Children’s Health Hospital in Dallas, Texas recommends starting with kids over age 5. Children older than 5 should be able to learn how to swallow pills relatively quickly; however, if you want to test your child’s readiness, check their swallowing reflex by having them swallow a mouthful of water. If none dribbles out, they’re ready to learn this new skill.