Remember your first Halloween? Most likely, you don’t. Like many kids, you were probably just a toddler when your parents dressed you in a costume and took you house to house in search of candy and other treats.
Now that you have a child of your own, preparing him or her for their first Halloween adventure can be a bit overwhelming.
Here are 7 tips to help ease parents and toddlers into the Halloween tradition:
1. Allow for plenty of prep time to help your child understand what Halloween is all about. Reading books and stories to your child about trick-or-treating—and Halloween in general—are great ways to help that discussion. You might even want to have your child practice in his or her costume before the big day. Toddlers need to know that Halloween is just for fun and the scary stuff is simply pretend. Some children may feel intimidated by costumes and crowds of people. If your little one doesn't want to partake in Halloween, then let that be okay. There is always next year, and 12 months can make a big difference!
2. Go out before it gets dark. If you’re planning on trick or treating in your neighborhood, try and time your outing before the sun goes down. This can help your child stay on his or her regular evening schedule. Toddlers need a consistent bedtime and starting early helps them keep that time in check. If your neighborhood tends to start Halloween festivities after dark, you might consider a center where activities are offered earlier in the day.
3. Watch out for tripping hazards. Toddlers aren’t quite in control of their walking abilities – even on a good day when nothing much is going on - walking can be a balancing act for tots. While you won't be able to prevent all of the tumbles, choosing a costume that is not too long or too bulky will help a great deal. Be sure to check the forecast before you go out and try to include layers if needed. Also remember to help your little one climb up and down any steps and porches.
4. Always have another costume on standby. Lots of toddlers are prone to toilet training accidents. If potty-training is still in its early stages, then there's a narrow window between "I have to go" and an accident. Keep that in mind when choosing a costume – the simpler, the better. There is also no harm in putting him or her in an easy-on, easy-off diaper.
5. Know when to pack it in. You never know what you’re going to run into on Halloween. If a house or costume is too scary or he or she takes a tumble or maybe your toddler has had a rough day already, then you already know that a temper –tantrum could be right around the corner. Once your tot gets too tired or just can’t seem to cope any longer, it’s time to head home. But all is not lost! Once your little one is home and has recovered, you might want to see if he or she would prefer to help hand out candy to all the "big kids" for a little while. You know your child best and can read the signals he or she is sending. An hour or less of trick or treating may be plenty for a first time out.
6. Watch out for sugar overload. While Halloween and candy go hand in hand, make sure your little one doesn’t over do the sweets – besides all the common sense reasons children shouldn’t be eating too much candy - a sugar crash can make kids more susceptible to overwrought tantrums.
7. Keep an eye for any choking hazards. It's best to avoid eating while walking or running. Once your child is ready to enjoy treats at home, keep in mind that babies and toddlers should not have any hard candies, caramel apples, popcorn, gum, small candies (jelly beans, etc.), gummy candy, pumpkin seeds, or anything with whole nuts. Candy wrappers, stickers, small toys, or temporary tattoos can be a choking hazard, for tiny throats. As all parents know, babies and toddlers will put just about anything into their mouths!
Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. The holiday has been observed and celebrated since ancient times and has also become an American tradition; exciting children’s imaginations every October 31st. If this is your little one’s first Halloween, be prepared, have fun and don’t forget to take lots of pictures to share with family and friends!
Story source: Dina DiMaggio, MD, FAAP, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Easing-Infants-Toddlers-into-Halloween-Fun.aspx