Keeping Halloween Sweet, Not Spooky
Since it’s the only day of the year they’re allowed to dress up, run through the neighborhood and ring every doorbell asking for goodies, most children start looking forward to Halloween as soon as they feel that first chill in the air.
While Halloween is decidedly sweet for countless little superheroes and Disney princesses, it can be spooky for their parents — think itchy costumes, weird neighbors and way, way too much candy. Cynthia G. Webb, M.D., physician and pediatrician on the medical staff at Texas Health Plano, referenced a few Halloween safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help make the upcoming holiday less scary.
Dress for Success
When helping your kids choose their costumes, there are several factors to consider, including fit, safety and versatility. If possible, try on costumes in person rather than buying them online so you can make sure they aren’t too long, creating a tripping hazard, or they don’t have small decorative pieces that could easily pop off, creating a choking hazard.
It’s also a good idea to have your children try on their costumes with the shoes they’re going to wear trick-or-treating so if any adjustments are needed, they can be made before the big night, and make sure that wigs, hats or eye patches don’t block a child’s view. Additionally, costumes should be marked as flame-retardant and should have some sort of reflective features to make kids more visible on dark streets.
The weather in Texas can be unpredictable any time of the year, but late October could bring frosty temperatures or a two-month extension of a sweltering summer. Try to select costumes that can be worn with either long or short-sleeve shirts so you can add or remove layers as the weather dictates.
Navigating the Terrain
Once Halloween arrives, estimate how long you plan to spend trick-or-treating and try to start early enough that you’ll be back home before it’s completely dark, if possible. Make sure trick-or-treaters head out with an adult or responsible older child and be sure at least one of them has a fully charged cell phone in case of emergencies. Remind kids to stay on the sidewalks and avoid cutting across yards because of unseen hazards like holes, hoses and sprinklers.
When crossing streets, reiterate that they should always look both ways and never make assumptions about drivers — either that they can see your kids or that they will give them the right of way. Finally, each child should wear as much reflective clothing as possible and carry a flashlight with new batteries.
Fast Track to Candyland
New research from the American Heart Association shows that the average American child consumes around three times the daily recommended amount of added sugars, which increases his or her risk for cardiovascular disease later in life, so don’t be afraid to set limits on your kids’ Halloween candy consumption. Perhaps they get a few favorite pieces per day, and then after several days the rest is tossed or taken to the office break room. A few other candy-related tips for Halloween include:
- Check each child’s treat bag for any unwrapped or suspicious treats, which should be thrown away.
- Don’t allow them to consume any home-baked treats, unless you’re sure they came from a relative or family friend.
- Read labels to check for any potential allergens, which can be potentially life-threatening. When in doubt, throw it out. (For more information about creating an allergy-safe Halloween for kids, check out Food Allergy Research & Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project.)
- For smaller children, beware of choking hazards such as hard candy, gum and nuts.
For even more tips to keep your kids safe this Halloween, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website.