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Posted by on Oct 31, 2011 in Help for Parents | 2 comments

A Not-So-Scary Use for Halloween Candy

Photo by J. Lobo

Enjoy this post from the Archives…

I love Halloween. It is such a great holiday to be a kid.  And although we can all moan and groan about the sweets overload that comes with this time of year, I think Halloween is great for collecting treats you can put to good use.  That’s right, we can use the Halloween candy for something productive.  Let’s use the candy to learn how to swallow a pill!

As most of my 9-year-old patient friends know, I don’t like to give liquid medicine out to kids in the “double digits.”  Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines become even more gross when you have to take multiple teaspoons at a time.  As kids get bigger, they can avoid this “gross-ness” by swallowing medicines in pill form.  Please assess your individual child’s readiness for pill-swallowing practice, but most kids are able to try before their 10th birthday.

Learning how to swallow a pill is an exercise of overcoming anxiety.  It’s a weird feeling not to chew before you swallow.  Overcoming the nervousness of allowing your body to do something you otherwise shouldn’t do is what we are trying to accomplish.

So, how do you teach pill swallowing?

First, you must allow and practice guzzling. I don’t mean polite tea-time sips.  I need some “just-got-rescued-from-the-desert-and-desperate-for-life-giving-fluid” kind of gulps. This may work best with a drink your kids are usually allowed to have in limited amounts, like juice or soda.  (Note: this will be the ONLY sugary beverage recommendation you will find on the blog.  After all, we are talking about candy, right?)  Practice guzzling with the chin pointed up to the sky. That will help with the next step.

Next, bring on the candy. This is where Halloween comes in.  As you are pilfering through your children’s loot after they crawl into bed on Monday night, put some of these aside for your pill-swallowing training.  When you are ready, encourage your child to guzzle down the following candies in this order:

  • One Nerd. This is the confidence builder.  Once your kiddo realizes that this water-guzzling technique just might work, he will be more likely to proceed to…
  • One Red Hot or Tic Tac. Way back in the throat, lean back, and guzzle!  After a few of these, move on to a….
  • Smartie. A little harder now, but with the soft consistency when wet can help accomplish the task.  One roll of Smarties down, and we are ready to try the….
  • Skittle. If you can swallow a Skittle, you can swallow just about anything.  Most pills are approximately this size, or a pill-splitter can help make any pill too much bigger an easier task.

That’s it!  Your child has done it!

Need some other ideas on what to do with all that candy? Check these 15 great ideas for leftover Halloween candy.

Be safe, have fun, and Happy Halloween!!


  1. Great tips and loving the new look to the site! I can think of a few adults who could do with learning how to swallow tablets too!

    • Thanks much! I hope you had a chance to have some fun on this spooky holiday!

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