Fall is in the air folks. The heat of the summer is giving way to cool and crisp mornings and I could not be more excited. Fall to me means pulling out those cozy sweaters, sipping on warm drinks, enjoying pumpkin spice treats and being amazed by the changing landscape from vibrant greens to fiery yellows, oranges and reds. It also means Halloween is right around the corner and, if you are the parent of little ones, there are few holidays that bring more joy (and cuter photo opportunities) than Halloween. Right now you may be in the midst of deciding on costumes, so I'm hoping that this post crosses your path at just the right time. While Halloween is super fun, we also want to make sure you know how to keep your kiddos safe for trick-or-treating.
When choosing your child's costume, make sure you choose a costume that is well-fitting and age-appropriate. You want to be sure that it's free of anything that could be hazardous like it being too long of a length that they could trip over; a sword, cane or stick that goes along with the costume that they could accidentally be hurt by; or a hat that's too big and blocks their eyesight. Speaking of eyesight, it would be a good idea to consider using non-toxic make-up instead of using face masks as those can often block your child's line of sight. Just be sure to test out the non-toxic makeup ahead of time to avoid any skin reactions on the big day. When buying a Halloween costume or accessories, make sure the label reads “flame retardant/resistant”. It may also be a good idea when picking out a costume, if possible, to choose bright colors or to add reflective tape to it or their treat-or-treat bag that will help make them more visible to motor vehicles and other people. Finally, it can be hot or cold on the night of trick-or-treating and it’s always a surprise what mother nature decides to do, so make sure your child is appropriately dressed for whatever she decides.
If pumpkin carving is part of your family's Halloween tradition, make sure that young children never do the carving. Have them draw a face or design and then you can do the actual cutting. Most kids don’t care to do the carving anyway, the real fun is getting to grab the squishy and gooey pumpkin contents. Also, don’t throw away those seeds; after separated and rinsed, you can bake those pumpkin seeds and they are delicious, healthy snack. If possible, avoid using real candles to light up your pumpkin as this presents a fire hazard. If you need to use real candles, votives are the safest. In addition, be sure to place your beautiful masterpiece on a sturdy table, especially if using real candles.
Now for the main event: the night of Halloween and trick-or-treating. Try to offer your kiddos a good meal prior to going out; this will ensure they don’t fill up too much on those goodies. A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children trick-or-treating. If your child is old enough to trick-or-treat alone, which depending on the responsibility and maturity level of your child is usually between the ages of 10 and 12, be sure that they go in a group, as well as assign a buddy within the group. Review the route that is acceptable to you and the specific time they should be home. Also review how to call 911 in the event of an emergency or if they become lost. Be sure that all trick-or-treaters and their chaperones have a flashlight with fresh batteries. Only visit homes that have a porch light on and never, ever go into a home or car for candy. Always walk on sidewalks and well-lit streets and, if no sidewalk is available, walk along the farthest edge of the roadway. Do not cut through yards or alleys and always cross the street using crosswalks. Also, do not assume that you have the right away, many times drivers cannot see you; stop, and if you see an approaching vehicle, wait until the roadway is clear before crossing the street.
At the end of the evening, wait until you are home to go through your child’s Halloween loot and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Once sorted, you can give the stash back to them--but, if the idea of them on a non-stop sugar high for the next week makes your skin crawl, you can try one of the following ideas:
Information presented adapted from:
Mary-Faith Fuller, CPNP
I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has worked at ABC Pediatrics since January 2014.