Halloween is coming up, and with it costumes, trick-or-treating, and plenty of candy. We have tips to help keep you and your children – of any age – safe for the holiday.
Warmth Evaluate the weather in your area at Halloween. If it’s generally chilly, a costume that can be worn over a coat or several layers is needed. Being able to change the amount of warmth based on the weather the day of trick-or-treating can be helpful.
Visibility If the child has a mask or other head covering, make sure that they can still see out of it so they don’t trip on the sidewalk or on steps. Similarly, make sure the child can be seen, with a bright costume or reflective tape, such as that on shoes.
Weapons Weapons should be re-evaluated for trick-or-treating or bringing to school, as there may be policies in place that even fake or prop weapons are not allowed. Children whose costumes include weapons should know not to hit other children with the weapon or to point weapons at one another. They should not be sharp, in case a child accidentally falls on them.
Trick-or-treating involves walking along streets at dusk or at night, when pedestrians can be more difficult for drivers to see. Additionally, excited children may want to run to the next house, headless of oncoming traffic.
Before Trick-or-Treating Eat a healthy meal before you set off trick-or-treating, so everyone has energy. No one wants to be hungry and grumpy for trick-or-treating! Eating beforehand also reduces the appeal of sneaking candy as the evening goes along.
General Tips See if your community goes trick-or-treating on Halloween itself. Some areas have designated alternate days, usually weekend days when children do not have school the next day, to hold trick-or-treating. Once you know your day, follow these tips when you go out.
Walk on sidewalks where possible, and where not, walk on the left side so you are going against traffic and drivers can more clearly see you
Walk in neighborhoods with street lights, if possible
Always carry a bright flashlight
Walk in groups of other children and parents
Know your route before you set out, and the traffic patterns, including any tricky intersections
Make sure all children going know the rules of being a pedestrian, including walking against traffic, looking both ways before crossing the street, crossing the street at corners, obeying pedestrian signals, always staying with the group, and, depending on age, always holding an adult’s hand
Alternative Trick-or-Treating Methods If your neighborhood isn’t well-suited for trick-or-treating, there may be another neighborhood in your city that with sidewalks and streetlights and neighbors used to handing out hundreds of pieces of candy. Or, especially with younger children who may usually have bedtime during traditional trick-or-treat hours, there may be a trunk-or-treat event near you where children can go from car to car in a parking lot to trick or treat. Community organizations and senior care facilities may also have similar programs.
Candy Alternatives As you’re choosing what to give out at your house, consider having something that is not food to hand out. Children with allergies or other dietary restrictions may have trouble participating in trick-or-treating. Small puzzles, coloring pages, crayons, and so on are welcome additions for those families. Put a teal pumpkin out in front of your home so that families know you have allergy-safe items to give out.
Your Child’s Candy After your child gets home, go through their candy haul. If they are younger, you can go through it yourself or wait until they have more energy the next day; as they age up, you can do it with them to teach them how to do it. It’s also an excellent time to discuss healthy eating choices. Remove any candy that has ripped or torn wrappers, as well as any that doesn’t work with any allergies or other dietary challenges your child has. If your child is younger, beware of candy the right size to be choking hazards. Children can trade with siblings or friends so everyone has their favorite kind of candy.
Candy Location Experts recommend not letting your child have candy in their room, so you can monitor their intake.
Candy Intake Candy should be seen as a dessert or a snack, and not as part of a meal. “Candy can be quite calorie-dense, depending on the type, so as with everything, moderation is the key. If we think of 100 calories as a general target for a regular snack, it can be surprising how little candy adds up to 100 calories,” says Brenden Kootsey, MD, a Bon Secours pediatrician. “And that means establishing early on that the practice is a few small pieces at a time, and not gorging on the contents of the trick-or-treating pail.” Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions about what they should be eating.