How to make trick-or-treat safer and healthier

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Trick-or-treat banner

It’s almost time for our little trick-or-treaters to begin their annual collection of Halloween goodies. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite times of the year. All the hard work that went into making her costume finally pays off as she rushes from house to house, collecting candies.

Every year we have a blast trick-or-treating. We want to keep it that way and we want everyone to be able to enjoy it. Making sure your child is safe and considering the safety of other trick-or-treaters should be a priority every year.

Know before you go

Before you leave the house, make sure to run through some guidelines to keep your child safe.

  • Children shouldn’t eat trick-or-treat candy until you’ve had a chance to go through it. To keep your child from snacking, offer a light meal beforehand.
  • Tell children not to accept or eat anything that’s not commercially wrapped.

Inspecting treats

When you’ve finished trick-or-treating you should go through your child’s candy and look for the following:

  • Homemade treats should be discarded unless it’s from someone you know and trust.
  • Throw out treats with damaged wrapping.
  • Inspect all goodies for signs of tampering — unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers — and throw away anything that looks suspicious. When in doubt, throw it out.

Save some for later

Once you’ve checked all of the treats, encourage your child to eat in moderation. I usually let my daughter pick a few pieces before we stash the rest away. If she’s still hungry, I offer her an alternate, healthier option that I know she likes.

So, what do you do with all the leftover candy? I usually pack a couple candies a day in her lunch for school and let her pick a few things every night after dinner until it’s gone. The key is to work out a plan that allows you to moderate the sugar intake.

Healthy handouts

You can’t control what your child brings home, but if you want to encourage healthy eating you could give the trick-or-treaters that come to your house healthier options. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cereal bars
  • Granola bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Baked pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Trail mix
  • Packages of crackers with cheese or peanut butter filling
  • Animal crackers
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Cracker Jacks
  • 100 calorie packs of cookies or crackers
  • Beef or turkey jerky
  • Single-serving boxes of cereal
  • Raisins and chocolate covered raisins
  • Fig cookies
  • Sugar-free gum or hard candy
  • Fruit snacks
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Individual juice drinks (100% juice)
  • Snack pack pudding
  • Jello with fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Packets of microwave popcorn
  • Sugar-free hot chocolate or apple cider packets

Alternatives for children with allergies

For some trick-or-treaters, allergies make it difficult to participate. However, you can keep them safe by joining the Teal Pumpkin Project and providing non-food treat. All you have to do is place a teal pumpkin outside your home to let children with allergies know you’re offering a safe alternative and hit the dollar store to stock up on treats.

Short on ideas? Here are some suggestions:

  • Stickers
  • Crayons
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Yo-yos
  • Sprider rings
  • Activity books (word search, cross word, coloring books)
  • Mini books
  • Bouncy balls
  • Bubbles
  • Whistles
  • Kazoos
  • Small toys and pocket-sized games
  • Glow sticks
  • Costume jewelry (plastic rings, necklaces and bracelets)
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Markers
  • Bookmarks
  • Children’s magazines or comic books
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Jump Ropes
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Frisbee
  • Character Band-Aids

Taking the time to plan ahead can make trick-or-treating more fun for your child and the rest of the neighborhood. Be sure to encourage healthy habits and food safety this Halloween.

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s online content producer. Raised in Portage County, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and outdoor recreation.

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