Too Much Candy?

Teach your child over 4 years of age to swallow pills.

Kid’s medicine doesn’t always taste very good and liquids are often far more expensive.

After Halloween, there are usually some M&Ms or Smarties. Mini M&Ms are even better to start with.

Get a glass of your child’s favorite beverage and a straw ready. Then have your child put the Mini M&M on the back of their tongue and drink through the straw. The candy won’t melt on the tongue and taste bad, and since it’s a familiar goodie, your child won’t be so anxious about trying. Practice with this until your child has mastered the smallest candy and then work your way up with slightly larger candy. If you don’t want to use candy, roll up the soft center of a piece of bread into small balls and use that.

If your child needs a little more incentive, do a little family math and calculate the cost of the liquid medicine versus pills. It’s quite a savings. Consider putting a little of that toward an incentive?

See the Resources page on my website for medicine dosing charts that show what ages and weights can use over the counter pills.

Common Sense Caution: Never call medicine candy.

P.S. Your dentist and I recommend that you throw out any candy not eaten promptly and brush, brush, brush. Dr. Edward Matsuishi, a pediatric dentist in El Cerrito, buys back candy for $1 a pound and donates it to charitable causes. He’s been doing it for 20 years, and this year’s haul is going to scouts who are making care packages for our armed forces and local shelters for Thanksgiving. You don’t have to be a patient to participate!

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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